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Tekken 8 - The King of Fighting Games is Back - Review

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About the Game:

Tekken 8 is the return of the fighting game that has seen many contenders come and go; and outlasted them all. Soulcalibur and Injustice both have been vanquished; and now the king reigns supreme with one of the best instalments in the genre. Like most long-running series how do you improve on a formula that has redefined the genre already; shaped it over and over and over again – but in the case of Tekken 8 it very much succeeds in making itself justify an essential purchase for fans of the game. After all, Why fix what needs to be broken?  


The combat mechanics are swift, brutal and unshakeable, button mashing is unstoppable and a real force of nature in this game. Recoverable health shakes up the narrative making it no clean break and it’s deployed countless times through the storyline of the main campaign, which runs for under ten hours but is effectively short and brutal. You won’t recover by standing and blocking – the game encourages forward thinking combat and getting stuck in, this is a fighting game after all and not a game that encourages defence. 

That’s what makes this game so refreshing from past fighting games where a blocking system was encouraged; that isn’t present as significantly here. The heat system means each battle feels like a bloody brawl, that is drawn out, ruthless and rife with carnage. Heat Smash gives each character a unique upgrade and can only be activated once per round, but I never found it too indifferent with the balance between the power-ups – everything feels evenly balanced and it’s all about the skill of the player. It brings out the personality of the characters in their combat too – everything of Jin, the main protagonist of the campaign – is tied into his ability to harness the power of the devil. 

His fight against his father Kazuya Mishima requires a bit lore – it’ll help to have played prior Tekken games but if you’re just here to fight the campaign offers up good practice against an intelligent AI that never feels easy to beat no matter the difficulty; always capable of bringing something to the table to surprise. I really enjoyed testing my experience with a difficulty climb in the Arcade Quest mode and the training mode really feels developed and tacked on with the aid of the campaign to guide you. The training also borrows from sports games to show you the damage that you could’ve made in each attack; and tells you what would’ve been more beneficial – with the replays playing into a key part of that. It’s like FIFA letting you watch the highlights at the end of every match, you can pinpoint where you should have done and hopefully learn for the next match. 

 I really liked exploring the new characters that Tekken has available. Victor, the French UN Agent, is as cool as they come – and Reina brings some enigma to the table and acts as a foil to Jin in the main campaign where she’s more than she initially appears. Don’t go in expecting anything subtle as the game doesn’t keep its cards close to its chest story-wise, but then again – Tekken 8 is not a game that you show up for story – even if it is, it will keep you entertained for many hours before you even start multiplayer. The cut-scenes take up much of the narrative giving the game its weight to establish the stakes of a global contest of champions – with The Dark Awakens headliner showcasing its long-term appeal to fans of the franchise. The special style controls are at their best here - with the game purposely acting as a showcase for the newer models of the game allowing new players to get used to the combat. Jin is a good lead – and he has the character story and experience needed to give him a cutting edge. This is probably the least accessible moment of the game as plenty of story beats require knowledge of previous games; but the combat is the priority here. It feels like Tekken 8 leans hard on the anime tropes and visions – with a variety of character endings that you can deploy by playing multiple battles with each of them. I really liked the wide variety of the 32 characters in Tekken 8, I enjoyed my time with Jin as much as Kuma – Alisa the android has her own quirks and each of them feel new. 

You can mix and match t-shirts and costumes with characters to add to comic effect, especially when characters who have history in the campaign fight against each other – and I really like how much the game leans into it being self-aware of its own over-the-top nature.


The visuals are beautiful across the board – each character is colourful; well-designed and wholly unique to enhance their trumped up abs. The main costumes are impressively detailed – even the sheer variety of unlockable outfits feel fresh and worth grinding for. You don’t have to spend too much time on them though – Chapter 1 of Arcade Quest and the final round on the map gives you access to this. I really liked the creative cutscenes among the character stories and even the world-building – the visuals really flow and do a great job at capturing the stakes and scale; there’s a few beautiful shots early on of a planet in sheer chaos. The fighting arenas are appropriately grand and feel visibly intimidating – a packed stadium plays host to one of our first combat sequences in the campaign and it feels just as sprawling as a ruined city that’s a wreck of Kayuza Mishima’s making. It’s a testament to the game’s attention to detail that not a speck of visual flair is lost from first to last.


One of the key features of the single-player modes in Tekken 8 that is worth highlighting here is the Jukebox feature which enables you to utilise the soundtracks of the past Tekken games, including those that aren’t part of the main series. If Tekken 3’s Character Select isn’t a favourite of anyone’s your doing it wrong – that’s not to say the triumphant soundtrack of Tekken 8 isn’t bad, the music comes from a variety of composers through Bandai Namco’s Game Music, and the involvement of Ryoko Shiraishi and Robbie Wyckoff among others makes the game’s sound a real treat. For both newcomers and longterm fans to seems to be the watchword of Tekken 8 but when that extends to even the music; you couldn’t have foun da more perfect balance of nostalgia vs. something new.


For all the attention of the campaign it is a trailer to the main narrative. Tekken Fight Lounge is where the heat of the game lies – and Quick, Group, Player and Ranked matches allow yourself with plenty of variety. Online was smooth and easy to play with little difficulty – and there were no lags or visible decreases in performance on the PS5. It’s a smooth run thing and the game has some of the quickest main menu to combat screens that I’ve seen.


One of my favourite features of the game with this release is Super Ghost Battle, which the CPU can learn from your own combat and counter you – train your own ghost to learn your own weaknesses, everything about Tekken 8 feels geared towards improving you and being largely accessible before you jump into the online death matches. Move sets of returning and new characters are both new player friendly and Tekken 8 succeeds in finding the right balance between newcomers and hardcore fans – a perfect jumping on point in terms of gameplay to the franchise couldn’t be more needed.


There are hours and hours of content on Tekken 8 and that’s just the campaign. The multiplayer offers the chance to play as someone beyond Jin who is the main focus of the offline mode and the sheer variety of the characters involved is a true highlight. I never once grew tired of switching between characters and with an online gameplay that runs as smoothly as Tekken 8, fans are in for a real trait. Rematches online load faster allowing you to jump straight in and go back to fighting against a foe with little disparity – it’s safe to say this game gives fighting fans a perfect experience.


By this point in the review you’re probably sick of me saying that Tekken 8 is perfect for fans both new and old alike but it couldn’t be a more accurate description of this game; it’s a stellar fighting game with just the right amount of new features to make it worthwhile. Whilst the promise of DLC and paid content on top of the base game coming soon may be a drawback; Tekken 8 arrives as a fairly complete game with plenty of more content than most other games of its ilk that have required as such. It’s a complete launch that encourages your attention and runs smoothly with a way to catch the eye. For fans of the genre, it's a must buy.

Gameplay: 8/10 
Visuals: 8/10 
Sound: 8/10 
Performance: 8/10 
Replayability: 8/10 
Overall: 80/100

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