The Tekken series makes a return this holiday season for more fisticuff combos but in something of a reduced form in preparation for next year’s major instalment. In many ways, what we have here remains true to its namesake; this a hybrid of sorts that presents fans with a handful of bite-sized chunks to whet their appetite and remind them that the franchise is still very much alive and kicking. Hybrid features a rendered movie, an HD port of the original Tekken Tag Tournament and the Prologue for that title’s upcoming sequel. The lower price point might make this package stocking friendly, but does the game have enough substance to bring about the Tekken cheer this Christmas?
The first part of Hybrid is Tekken: Blood Vengeance, a full length Blu-Ray feature film that focuses on high school student, Ling Xiaoyu as she unravels the mystery surrounding a student hiding a dark secret. The film opens with a bang and the final battle does impress if you’re into over the top fighting antics, but you may be surprised by the lack of action in the middle act. The film spins a tale of friendship and loyalty, but also tries to hit gamers with the typical ‘fighting is pointless’ lesson, which coming from Tekken film doesn’t exactly ring true. The dubbing is laughable in a kung-fu movie kind of way, and while the CGI is effective – and at times beautiful – you probably shouldn’t go in expecting Tekken’s answer to Final Fantasy’s Advent Children. There’s an emphasis on the budding friendship between Ling and Alisa, and this plotline provides all the Japanese silliness that Blood Vengeance can handle without becoming utterly laughable.
Tekken Tag Tournament HD will likely be the meat of the package for avid fans out there, though we remain unconvinced that it’s an HD port that most would have asked for. Tag is an older title that hasn’t aged too well in the presentation department, but if you’re a fan harbouring fond memories and can’t wait to dive back into the fight then you won’t have much reason to complain here. The game (which has been ported over from the improved Playstation 2 version) allows you to play as the usual host of characters and centres on two-on-two battles. Unlike in the tag mode for Dead or Alive however, the round ends when a single opponent is knocked out, making strategy as much a part of the fighting process as learning the combos and special techniques.
Things still handle exactly as before, meaning that while the thoroughly outdated graphics may be an issue, the gameplay itself is strong enough to satisfy the aforementioned diehard fans. Everyone else can expect to find themselves perplexed as to the reason behind the port, other than to boost Hybrid’s content and promote the sequel. After all, there are better Tekken titles out there. Online support isn’t provided, so you’ll need to call a friend over for some much needed trash-talk and cheeky taunting; this remains the best way to enjoy a fighting game anyway, so we don’t expect this to be a major issue, especially as online modes weren’t provided with the original release all those years ago.
The third and final part of Hybrid is Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Prologue, with the ‘Prologue’ name serving as a generous cover for what is a very basic demo. Four characters are available (unsurprisingly the ones most heavily featured in Blood Vengeance) and offer a small taste of what promises to be a popular fighter in the coming year. The graphics aren’t quite the leap that you might have hoped for, sporting a somewhat grainy and blurry look that will be eclipsed should the final build fail to improve. You will get to sample a number of locations and learn to become proficient with the characters available, but the sheer level of limitation here will no doubt frustrate and disappoint. Trophy support does not make up for this, either.
Those who absolutely must have a slice of Tekken action this year will no doubt find something to enjoy in Tekken Hybrid. The game is a rather thin package that won’t appeal to anyone unaccustomed to the series, and indeed, this would be a terrible place for them to start. What we have is fan service at a knockdown price, thus making for a solid distraction before the real title hits store shelves. Tekken Hybrid at once attempts to tantalise with the promise of the new while providing a port from the days of yesteryear, throwing in a CG movie to bolster the deal. Your level of enjoyment will therefore depend entirely on your familiarity with the franchise… making it a solid choice for fans, but an obvious one to avoid for everyone else. That said, at least you’ll get to see a panda jet-boosting across a lake.
Have you downloaded the latest issue from GamerZines yet? Check it out here!