This edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Namco Bandai's tag-team fighting game Tekken Tag Tournament 2, which reviewers describe as "the most polished, well-executed Tekken game ever made." Tekken Tag Tournament 2 currently earns a score of 80 out of 100 at Metacritic.com.
Jordan Mallory at Joystiq gives Tekken Tag Tournament 24.5 out of 5 stars. "Everything that's ever been good about Tekken is in here," he praises, "from its surprisingly deep, accessible gameplay mechanics to its bombastic and hilarious attitude -- all presented in a package more polished and refined than ever before."
Mallory continues: "By sticking with the same ideas that have driven this series for the last 18 years, rather than attempting to reinvent the series or fighting games as a genre, Namco Bandai has produced the best, most complete Tekken there's ever been. It has also, perhaps inadvertently, published a dissertation on how to design an incredibly solid, full-featured fighting game."
The game manages to balance depth and accessibility. "For those that want it, TTT2's depth is rivaled only by Virtua Fighter, with each fighter having a command list several hundred entries long," Mallory explains. "It was not uncommon to be accosted by moves I didn't even know my characters had during online mirror matches."
"This may sound like common sense, but the degree to which fresh faces are pounded in Tekken is more severe than in other games like SoulCalibur 5," Mallory adds. "By being so immediately accessible, though, getting good at the game doesn't feel like an impossibility, so there's more motivation to learn and improve. This often isn't the case with more technical fighters, which often have a skill prerequisite rather than a learning curve."
"The ideas presented here are nothing new, but it doesn't feel like a rehash or cop out," Mallory writes. "Rather, it feels like Namco Bandai has slowly been evolving the same idea over the past 18 years, and this is the culmination of that effort. This is, without a doubt, the most polished, well-executed Tekken game ever made."
Official Xbox Magazine UK's staff scores the game at 8 out of 10. "Presuming the fighting game was in renaissance, it's now in danger of eating itself," the reviewer observes. "Barely a month passes without another stalwart series making a fleet-footed plunge for your wallet, as if somehow our brains are up to the task of memorising an infinite number of systems, combo lists and chisel-chested characters."
OXM continues: "Seemingly aware of this relentless overexposure, Namco has decided to let Tekken become what it was always destined to be: the first fighting game comedy. Everything in Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is funny. The backgrounds are bizarre and hilarious. The roster is mental -- for every karateka or judo guy, there's a giant bear or a dinosaur. And the customisation options are so robust that you can legitimately go into battle with a wet fish in your hand and a helicopter cap on your head, and no one will bat an eyelid."
Tekken Tag Tournament 2's gameplay also shines. "The two-on-two dynamic does change the flow of the action, but not as dramatically as, say, Marvel vs. Capcom or even Street Fighter X Tekken," OXM explains. "This is still the four-button-four-limbed assault it's always been, and those versed in the ways of the Iron Fist can still bust out combos like it's 1996. You switch teammates sparingly, usually when one is in trouble (a single KO is enough to defeat both combatants), and it's entirely possible to do well fighting as a lone wolf against a team of two."
"Tekken Tag Tournament 2 doesn't offer quite enough over its predecessor to warrant any sort of classic status," OXM admits, "but it's unquestionably another masterful piece of work from a team who have been doing this sort of thing forever. Like Street Fighter IV before it, this is a scrapper that should satisfy the hardcore while also giving a big warm nostalgic hug to those who ditched digital fighting back in the '90s."
Edge Magazine rates Tekken Tag Tournament 2 at 7 out of 10. "There's still a button for each of your chosen fighter's limbs, but there's now a fifth with which you can switch characters," the reviewer explains. "As in [Street Fighter x Tekken], tagging a partner mid-battle is a risk, and should only be executed when your opponent is on the floor or a significant distance away.
"Safer options include tag throws -- activated with a simultaneous press of tag and right punch -- and tag cancels. But the latter, in contrast to SFXT's freeform combo system, can only be performed after a handful of each character's moves."
The sequel makes an effort to be accessible for new players, but comes up short, according to Edge. "This is a game for old hands, the sole concession to newcomers coming in the form of Fight Lab," Edge notes. "It's a tutorial of sorts that puts players in control of Combot, a robotic fighter whose moveset expands as you progress, pilfering from the game's roster of over 50 characters.
"You'll finish it thinking you've got a good grasp of TTT2, but you've not learned how to play the game, just how to play as Combot. Soon, you're locked into the core Tekken loop of dipping into the pause menu's command list, experimenting, mucking about, but never being entirely sure you're improving. And now you have to learn two characters, not just one."
"This is as fluid as Tekken has been for years, the tagging doing much to revitalise a combo system that, with its over-reliance on juggles and wall combos, was in danger of growing stale," Edge concludes. "But it's taken a 12-year-old mechanic to do that, and other games in this increasingly crowded genre boast a deeper level of mechanical complexity as well as a more generous welcome to newcomers. With the back catalogue pilfered, the lingering question is where the series can possibly go from here."