As fans of Namco's games will attest to, not an arcade-to-home port comes out that isn't enhanced by the inclusion of an extra mode or two, and Tekken 4 is certainly no exception. Fighting-game veterans familiar with the progression of the series will recall the Tekken Force mode included in the PlayStation version of Tekken 3. Tekken Force let you pick any of 7ys characters and sent you on a side-scrolling Final Fight-style beat-'em- up adventure. Movement into and out of the 3D plane was featured but extremely limited.
In Tekken 4, Namco continues the theme with the Tekken Force Assault mode, but this time the battle is fought in full 360-degree 3D. As evidenced by these screens, over half a dozen enemies will attack you at any given time, unlike the one or two opponents who would pester you in Tekken 3. Once you've beaten down the waves of hooligans on each level, you'll encounter a boss who's waiting around to hand you your ass and show you the door. Naturally, your only recourse is to kick boss butt and emerge victorious. Tekken 4 comes out in Japan this March, and the U.S. later this fall.
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Tentatively scheduled to arrive this spring, the fourth installment of Namco's Tekken series (not counting Tekken Tag Tournament or Tekken GBA) will soon make the trip home from the arcades to the PS2. Regarding Tekken 4's newly interactive 3D backgrounds, director Masahiro Kimoto says, "Depending on the character you choose, a stage can give you an advantage or a disadvantage." Sounds good to us.
This month we sat down with a playable version of Namco’s Tekken 4 for PS2. While certain features weren’t available for us to play, like Tekken Force Assault mode (revealed last issue), we still got to see what sort of strides Tekken has made since T3 and Tekken Tag Tournament. A nearly perfect port of the recently released arcade version, Tekken 4's main enhancement over previous installments is the addition of interactive environments. Get your opponent up against the wall, then drive his head into it.
The fighters look great and the control is tight, but getting used to the severe character tweaking was the hard part. Bryan Fury, for example, has been totally neutered, with his once-formidable cannon punches and wicked sidestep attacks now nearly nonexistent. One of the new guys, Craig Marduk, is so tall, it seems like all he’s good for is taking shots in the groin. Thankfully some of the new characters like Steve Fox (the boxer) and Christie (Eddy Gordo clone) add energy and variety to T4. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Tekken 4 won’t hit the U.S. ’til about September or so. So break out Tekken Tag and practice!