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Tekken 8: the reviews are in, and it's looking good

The latest game in the Tekken franchise is finally out. The eighth title in the long-running street fighter series – often referred to as one of the ‘big three’, alongside Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter itself – is released on consoles today, and so far, the reviews are looking good.

Tekken has been on the go for a whopping thirty years and though the plot varies, it generally follows the events of the King of Iron Fist Tournament, which is hosted by the Mishima family corporation. Players can control various characters in an attempt to win the tournament and gain control of the company, as well as play out the infighting in the Mishima family itself.

Tekken 8 continues that tradition: this time, the storyline revolves around the final confrontation between Mishima father-and-son duo Kazuya and Jin, who want to kill each other (long story short: they both have a supernatural power called the Devil Gene, and Kazuya wants to take over the world).

In good news for fans, it has already been praised by critics: The Mirror’s Scott McCrae called it “another great version of the premiere 3D fighter.”

Even better, from the looks of things, Tekken 8 offers players brand new ways to beat seven bells out of each other. “It’s fair to say that Tekken 8 has the most aggressive gameplay of the series to date thanks to the new Heat system. This is a bar that you’re able to activate during a round to give you benefits during the match,” he wrote.

 (Bandai Namco)
(Bandai Namco)

“This makes for an interesting meta-game on deciding how best to use this resource in a given round. Time will tell how this affects the game in the long term, but so far I’m loving the more in-your-face style of Tekken 8.”

Tekken 8 also introduces another new concept: recoverable health. “Movement, spacing, block punishing, and whiff punishing all remain as vital as ever, but two significant additions also twist those mechanics in exciting ways: recoverable health, and the Heat System," wrote Ronny Barrier at IGN.

“For the first time in Tekken history, other than the Tekken Tag Tournament games, recoverable health plays a major part in matches. Blocking big attacks and taking chip damage, absorbing them with a Power Crush, or being hit after getting knocked airborne will do partial gray damage… you have to go on the offensive to reclaim your life, and this made me adapt my mindset in a wonderful way.”

In contrast to previous Tekken games, the game’s content also seems to have been beefed up drastically. Tekken 8 sees the introduction of the new Arcade Quest mode, which follows the player’s avatar as they team up with fellow Tekken fans and visit arcades around the country, while also learning about the mechanics of the game.

Even better, the game’s supporting cast also get the chance to shine. “While some are relegated to comedic relief roles – like my favourite jobber Paul Phoenix – it’s nice actually to see them get involved at least,” McCrae wrote. This includes the return of Character Episodes from Tekken 7, which gives the player the chance to win a series of fights as different characters from that same supporting cast.

And as for the plot: predictably, it's dense. “We still don’t think anyone but hardcore fans is going to have a clue what’s going on but it’s easy enough to grasp the basics, with a family feud between heroic but demonically-tainted son Jin Kazama and his father Kazuya Mishima, who is both an evil corporate overlord and a supernaturally powerful martial artist,” wrote Metro.

 (Bandai Namco)
(Bandai Namco)

“There’s a lot, lot more to it than that but while we quickly started to lose a grip on who was doing what and why the wonderfully over-the-top cut scenes are consistently entertaining and a fine reward for persevering.”

That said, Patrick Gill at Polygon was less enamoured with the game’s campaign. “Unfortunately, there’s not much here to keep you playing after you wrap up the brief story, and the tutorials still leave a lot of important fundamentals unexplained,” he wrote.

“Tekken is my favorite fighting game series, and I wish Tekken 8 had the beginner-friendly appeal needed to pull all my friends into its orbit.”

That said, for long-time lovers of Tekken, the game seems to have lived up to its expectations, and then some. As Metro puts it, "fans are certain to welcome it as one of the best entries in the entire franchise.” High praise indeed.

Tekken 8 is out on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S and Windows. Buy it here