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Quality of ‘Tekken’ series continues with ‘Tekken 5’

Mark Bemenderfer | Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Very few games have the longevity to endure through the years – many of them hardly last longer than a few weeks. A lot of the original Nintendo games fall under this category, as well as “Halo” and “Super Smash Brothers Melee.”But now, another year has come around and another “Tekken” has been released. The general principle has remained the same as previous “Tekken” games. The player first chooses his virtual avatar from a rather large assortment. The player then proceeds through many rounds of a fighting tournament in hopes of becoming the victor. Not entirely original, but there weren’t any elements that really needed to be improved a great deal in the first place.”Tekken 5″ is the latest in a long line of fighting games. Actually it is the sixth game of the series and is the third iteration on the Playstation 2. Being the latest in a long series, “Tekken” has aged as gracefully as one could hope. It is definitely one of the better, if not the most polished, fighting game currently out on the market. For being a fighting game, the individual storylines for each of the characters can be quite engaging. The Mishima Corporation is in turmoil because it’s leader, Heihachi Mishima, dies in the introductory cinema. Let it be known that Heihachi has been a staple of “Tekken” since its inception. By killing him off before the game begins, it shows that Namco is willing to shake things up a little in the name of innovation.After Heihachi dies, the King of Iron Fist Tournament is once again scheduled. This is the tournament that “Tekken” bases its storyline on in the previous versions. However, Heihachi was usually the sponsor and therefore a bit of mystery is created concerning the sponsor of the tournament. This question is what drives some of the participants. Other characters are fighting for personal reasons, some for control of the company and some just for the money. All of the characters have some motivation to be in the tournament and each one has multiple story-driven fights, as well as a final fully-rendered CGI cinema. This is a major plus, as it gives more depth to each of the fighters.Of course, storyline would not mean so much if the actual game plays did not back it up. Let it be known first that the execution is near flawless. Moves are not difficult to pull off, yet they are still above the level of the average button-masher. Anyone can hop into the game and win some rounds with any character. However, it is only by taking time to study the intricacies of the characters that one can learn the really cool moves and long combos unique to each character. Each character has a distinct personality and fighting style – a step up from previous versions. Namco has rid the game of the clones that plagued previous versions and have created more diversity between the ones that remain. Namco got also rid of the game of slanted levels in “Tekken 4,” but they did retain the destroyable terrain. This is a nice bonus, as slamming a guy into the glass to see it shatter under the force is quite satisfying.The game also has a wealth of bonuses. One can modify their favorite characters’ appearance, changing both smaller and larger aspects of their appearance. This allows people to associate even more with their favorite fighter, as they can change them to become more to their liking. Also included are some of the previous versions of the game. “Tekken 1” through “Tekken 3” is included with the game free of charge. They are arcade perfect ports, so they may not be exactly as some recall. Also included is a secret un-lockable old arcade game made by Namco.Rounding out the extras is the “Devil Within” mode. The player gets to play an old-fashioned beat-em-up style game, where one guides the fighter Jin through rooms while fighting a near endless supply of bad guys. Similar to the previous extra “Tekken Force,” it’s a nice free add-on but gets old rather quickly. For those hardcore “Tekken” fans, Namco has released an added treat. For the hefty price of $100, one can purchase the game with an arcade joystick in a collector’s case. The arcade stick is of very high quality, being mostly made of steel. It has some heft to it and responds well to inputted commands. However, for those not used to it, it can be distracting. It’s perfect for the fans of the arcade versions, but may not be appropriate for all. “Tekken 5,” as far as fighting games go, is a great game. It’s a perfect continuation of the beloved series and it incorporates old characters with new characters flawlessly. Whether one is a newcomer or a veteran to the series, one will feel at ease jumping right into the game.