I’m a sucker for a good fighting game, as my endless piles of reviews on pretty much every single one that’s come out over the past few years will probably attest. There’s a certain satisfaction to finally nailing a combo in Practice, then making it work in a live fight, that tickles my brain somehow.
Few fighting games are better at rewarding that sort of dedication than Tekken, but thanks to the near-demise of the classic arcade it’s been a long wait to get my hands on the most recent addition to the family. So imagine my joy when I finally got a chance to try Tekken 7 at home – and on my PC!
The King of Iron Fist tournament is in full swing once again and fighters from around the world have come for a shot at the title. The usual suspects are here, of course – your Mishimas, your Steve Fox, your Julia Chang, your aggravating flip-kicking Eddy Gordo and so on – but as with most tournaments we’ve got some newcomers as well. These range from a new heavy-hitting big guy in Gigas to the acrobatic Shaheen to Lucky Chloe, who, uh…popular online, I’ll give her that much. Did I mention Street Fighter’s demonic Akuma makes a publicized appearance? Heck, he’s right there on the box!
So you’ll pick your character and you’ll pit them against other people’s selections in traditional fighting game fashion. You’ve got a variety of modes in which to do said fighting, including a robust and reliable online mode; I played on PC and rarely ran into connectivity issues, with lag in maybe one out of ever twenty matches I got into. Let’s not kid ourselves and pretend that this isn’t the real reason that most people are going to pick this game up. There’s a cinematic story mode much like Injustice or Mortal Kombat X which isn’t too bad, as well as short story vignettes for various characters…but you’re really here for online play, and it’s present, accounted for and surprisingly well done.
The fighting itself is robust and deep; it’s almost intimidatingly robust and deep, actually. Tekken doesn’t play much like the 2D fighters I’m used to, particularly with its much greater emphasis on entering your moves in advance rather than mashing them out in combos. Carefully executed combos and special moves typically take a fair amount of skill and practice to pull off, so they’re both visually and technically impressive. The vast selection of characters makes choosing one to invest your time into learning even more difficult, since fighting styles tend to vary significantly from one to the next.
It’s fortunate, then, that there’s a fairly involved training mode available to help you get a handle on things, but you’ll still be spending some time in Practice learning what makes your character tick. On top of that, once you’ve gotten attached to your chosen fighter after hours of practicing combos and finally locking them down, you’ll probably want to spice up their look a little for your online matches. Tekken 7’s happy to let you do that, of course; as you play you’ll earn Fight Money that can be spent on new customization options and parts for both your fighters and your personal profile. This can result in some impressively bizarre creations, particularly with my preferred accessory: the deer mask. Nothing like beating the hell out of your foes as a deer.
Look at those screenshots and you’ll notice something else: it’s real purdy. I played on PC and my big dumb expensive computer crushed the game pretty much exactly as expected, as the game comes enhanced for the best video cards. There’s even 4K modes if your rig can handle all those resolution-busting pixels! But the console versions run pretty great, too, and the gameplay is exactly identical on all versions. Tekken’s fairly friendly to controller players, so that’s another plus; you definitely don’t want to play this one with a keyboard, trust me.
We’ve seen Tekken 7 earn plenty of accolades on PC, and that’s a pretty significant accomplishment for a fighting game on the platform. It’s popular for good reason: this is a fantastic example of the 3D fighter, probably the best available on PC and one of the best available on consoles. Fans of the genre, particularly those looking for a change from Arc System Works, Capcom and NetherRealm’s take on 2D combat, would do well to give Tekken 7 a jab or two.