Tekken 8 Review – Raising the Bar For Fighting Games
The fighting game genre is currently experiencing a remarkable peak in popularity, and Tekken 8 has arrived on the scene following the highly successful Tekken 7, which recently concluded its Tekken World Tour (TWT). With high expectations riding on its release, I can confidently say that Tekken 8 has not only met but exceeded these expectations, delivering an outstanding gaming experience.
Tekken 8 builds upon the fighting system established in Tekken 7, refining and enhancing it. The Rage Arts mechanic returns, but to encourage a more aggressive playstyle, Tekken 8 introduces a new feature called the Heat Gauge. This mechanic significantly shifts the game’s dynamics, moving away from the methodical emphasis on defense, pokes, and air combos. Instead, it now favors aggressive players who can exert pressure through a combination of the Heat Gauge, wall bounces, and Rage Arts.
Visually, Tekken 8 is a stunning achievement. It stands out as one of the most impressive 3D fighting games I’ve played in terms of graphics. The game is visually striking with its vibrant animations, flashy attacks, and intricately detailed character models. However, there is a noticeable drawback in the game’s visuals. With the transition to the new Unreal Engine, some characters, like Steve Fox, seem to have lost a bit of their previous visual appeal. Despite this, the overall graphical quality of Tekken 8 is remarkable, setting a new standard for what a current-generation fighting game should look like. While Street Fighter 6 also has its unique art style, it has started to feel a bit dated, and in this aspect, Tekken 8 effectively fills the gap, offering a fresh and visually captivating experience.
Tekken 8 sets a new standard for single-player content in fighting games. Comparing it to Street Fighter 6, which primarily offers the World Tour as its major single-player mode with a narrative, Tekken 8 harks back to the golden era of Tekken 3, known for its abundant single-player offerings and enjoyable Arcade mode, complete with unique cinematics for each character. In Tekken 8, the single-player story mode is filled with thrilling action and impressive set pieces, boasting a production quality that could rival a standalone movie. This mode, with over a dozen chapters, is significantly more substantial and engaging than the story mode in Tekken 7.
The story mode in Tekken 8 addresses the events following Tekken 7, and it includes an extensive recap covering the narratives of the previous games. This feature is especially helpful for those who are not fully acquainted with the game’s backstory. The game kicks off with a visually spectacular battle between Kazuya and Jin. Each fight in the story mode is interspersed with numerous cutscenes and quick-time events, ensuring that the gameplay feels interactive and not just like watching a movie. A particularly enjoyable aspect is the ability to choose fighters in a tournament-style event, allowing players to engage with their favorite characters. Compared to the story modes in Street Fighter 6 and Mortal Kombat 1, Tekken 8 arguably offers the best narrative experience.
Beyond the main story, Tekken 8 also excels in other single-player modes. Each character has their own story, typically involving a series of matches (about five) that conclude with a character-specific cinematic. These cinematics vary from humorous to character-enhancing, adding depth to the overall game. This approach to character stories, reminiscent of the Tekken 3 era, was a delightful addition for me, and I believe it will be for other fans as well. These character stories are filled with surprises and are worth exploring for anyone who appreciates the lore and characters of the Tekken series.
Tekken 8 brings back the much-loved Tekken Ball Mode, a fan-favorite since its introduction in Tekken 3. This time, it comes with an exciting addition: online playability. In this mode, players use their characters’ power or normal moves to hit a ball, charging it up with energy. The sheer unpredictability and fun of Tekken Ball Mode make it a perfect choice for playing with friends. The mode’s unique charm and wackiness are best experienced firsthand, and I highly recommend trying it out.
Another notable feature in Tekken 8 is the Arcade Quest mode. This mode is somewhat akin to the World Tour mode in Street Fighter 6 but with its own distinct design. Players create an avatar who embarks on a journey to become the world’s best Tekken 8 player, mirroring the concept of a Tekken World Tour within the game. This mode involves battling other avatars and climbing the ranks to ultimately become the Tekken 8 champion. It’s an excellent single-player mode for learning the game mechanics and provides a different flavor of gameplay apart from the main story.
The game’s online component includes the Tekken Fight Lounge, where players can engage in battles with others online. This concept is similar to the Battle Lounge in Street Fighter 6 but with a broader scope. One commendable aspect of Tekken 8 is the extensive avatar customization options, which thankfully are not gated behind onerous microtransactions, a stark contrast to Street Fighter 6. By playing through the offline or online modes, players earn in-game currency, which can be used for these customizations. Earning this currency is relatively straightforward, similar to the approach taken in Tekken 7.
The customization options in Tekken 8 are impressively comprehensive. There are a multitude of items available for both the fighters and player avatars. While most of these can be unlocked with in-game currency, some are reserved for DLC. This approach strikes a balance, offering players a variety of ways to personalize their experience without overly relying on additional purchases.
Playing Tekken 8 on PC has proven to be an excellent experience. The game is well-optimized, offering a range of customization options that allow it to scale effectively across various hardware configurations. Remarkably, you don’t need the most advanced hardware to achieve 60 FPS with respectable visuals. The inclusion of support for technologies like DLSS and FSR further enhances the game’s performance, making it a smooth and visually appealing experience on the PC.
A particularly noteworthy feature is the game’s support for ultra-wide screens. Tekken 8 runs on widescreen monitors without any need for manual adjustments, which is a pleasant surprise for players with such setups. In widescreen mode, the main menu and in-game battles are fully optimized, while cinematics revert to the standard aspect ratio, ensuring a consistent and immersive visual experience.
While Tekken 8 may not be as accessible to newcomers as Street Fighter 6, it still offers a range of options for players who are less experienced with fighting games. The game includes a special mode that simplifies move execution, enabling players to easily perform heat gauge moves, air combos, grabs, and special attacks with a single button press. Additionally, the comprehensive in-game practice mode is invaluable for learning both simple and complex combos. I found this particularly useful for improving my skills with characters like Azucena.
In summary, Bandai Namco has done an impressive job with Tekken 8. It stands a strong chance of being recognized as one of the best fighting games of this generation. Although it remains to be seen how it will fare in competitive play, the prospect of watching players adapt to and master the new game mechanics is exciting. The addition of new fighters, like Azucena and Victor, has also been a highlight for me, adding fresh dynamics and styles to the already diverse roster.
Tekken 8 Game Information
- Price: $69.99
- Publisher: Bandai Namco
- Developer: Bandai Namco
- Platform: PC and PS5 (Reviewed)
- Disclaimer: A review code was given by the publisher