Tekken Tag Tournament
While the PS2 version will be completely faithful to its arcade counterpart, Namco have already started hinting that there will be a host of additional modes incorporated into this version that will extend the life-span of the game immeasurably.
Unofficially we have been advised that a 'story mode' is on the way that will see your character travelling around the world meeting and defeating each of the 30+ other fighters in the game, while gradually revealing a little more background on your character as you progress.
With the size and format of the new memory cards in PS2, some of the characters will only be unlocked on an arcade-style 'time release' basis, meaning that you will have to put some serious playtime into the game if you are to reveal ALL of the fighters.
At the moment only six of the fighters are playable, but the very fact that Namco were keen to show this work in progress to the masses, showed how confident they were in their coding ability on the PlayStation2. Having attended a few demos of videogame software, let us tell you that there is nothing more embarrassing for the developers than seeing their game fall to pieces in front of the world's press.
The graphical definition of the fighters was way beyond what even the stunning hi-resolution Tekken 3 could produce. The camera zooms right into the action making the characters appear much larger than previous versions, while at the same time allowing you to fully appreciate their detail.
As before the faces of the fighters turn to follow their opponent, but now they grimace and stare using several different expressions. The skin and muscle tones on the male fighters are truly stunning and really need to be seen to be believed. The best way to describe them is to say that the in-game fighters now look better than those shown on the intro movies of Tekken 3, bloody hell, they even make the arcade version look a little lame.
While all of the Tekken games have tried to recapture the smooth movement of long hair and garments, Tekken Tag Tournament takes this to a whole new level of realism. This is the first time we were able to truly appreciate what Sony meant when they named the main processor in the console an 'emotion engine', because this is exactly what separates this game from its predecessors - the realism of the fighters.
Namco seem to have the camera positions and operations pretty much finalised, but they still have some fine tuning to do on the animation and general movements of the characters.
Pulling off the moves is still typically Tekken, in that you find it easy to execute the simpler combos. But mastering the more complex moves takes real skill and often a bit of luck.
Tekken Tag Tournament really does move the fighting genre forward by the way that it introduces a whole new tactical element to the game. As soon as you feel that your opponent is getting the better of your fighter, you can quickly 'Tag' your team member, who quickly enters the scene to inflict some retribution on your enemy. At the same time your other fighter now has the chance to rest and recharge some of his energy.
Much of the skill comes from selecting the best combination of fighters for your team. As all Tekken gurus will know, the game has evolved to include many different martial art and wrestling styles.
Each of the characters in the game has their own strengths and weaknesses - some posses devastatingly fast hand speed, others have lighting kick-speed or 'bear-like' strength. Some of the team combinations have special 'Tag Throws' that allow you to pick up your opponent and throw them towards your other fighter. At this point your second character can join in and give them a quick kick from outside of the arena.
Another new move is the 'Juggle', which allows you to launch your opponent into the air and then keep him up with a combination of uppercuts and high kicks. The correct timing and moves will virtually wipe out all of their health. You can even quickly 'Tag' your partner and get him to continue this hilarious move if your very quick..!
A great side effect of this team tournament is that each round will last far longer than the usual one-on-one affairs.
You can be sure that all of your favorite characters trademark moves will be included, together with a host of new moves for you to master. Namco have also promised that the extra power and memory of the PS2 has allowed for much more complex artificial intelligence routines to be written for the computer opponents, learning your fighting technique and then avoiding even your most devastating moves.
Probably the largest change in Tekken Tag Tournament was in each of the fighting arena's backgrounds. As each of the previous versions of this series have pushed the PlayStation to the limit at the time they were released, its understandable that the programmers were left with a tiny amount of processing time and memory space for the backgrounds. The new PlayStation2 has 16 times more memory onboard than the older console and so at last Namco have been able to make the scenery a lot more interesting.
In the street scene for example, neon signs flickered, bystanders cheered and moved around the massive level stopping to talk to each other while smoke billowed from manhole covers in a very realistic way.
When bearing in mind that this game still has months of development time by one of the largest and most respected programming teams in the industry, it clearly shows that this game will give us all those same 'goosebumps' that we felt way back in 1995 when the very first Tekken made its debut on the original PlayStation console.