It's something that doesn't happen often, but within a few months, we've had new releases from all the "big" fighting franchises. Capcom with the excellent Street Fighter 6, NetherRealm Studios with the interesting but a bit lacking Mortal Kombat 1 and now it's Bandai Namco's turn to present their own take on the much-played Tekken series. Although the Japanese company was rather late to include PCs in its release range, the very good sales performance of Tekken 7 on Steam, and fighting games in general in recent years, led, without much thought, to the simultaneous release of Tekken 8 on PS5, XBOX and PC.

A game that confirms that Bandai Namco's in-house development team is in great shape. A team that doesn't rest on its laurels, but constantly strives to innovate, even if it has been preceded by a very successful "episode" like Tekken 7. While Tekken 8 keeps intact the backbone of its gameplay, which has elevated it to its current high levels, it incorporates a new system called heat, which promises even faster and more competitive battles, where the outcome often hovers on a razor's edge. I have to admit that I didn't experience such stressful duels in ranked matches even in the recent and beloved Street Fighter 6, something I'll probably have to watch out for, as I'm at a... "sensitive" age (ouch!).

The classic Tekken gameplay is presented here, faster and more impressive than ever before.

However, Tekken 8's content isn't just for those looking for ways to raise their low blood pressure. The game is one of the few instances of our times that is truly complete, both in offline and online content, which as we know, is the quintessential modern fighting game (since "hot-seat in the same room" probably belongs to other decades).

First, there's the story mode, titled The Dark Awakens, which lasts about four hours of anime extravaganza. Contributing to this is the almost bizarre scenario that the entire Tekken franchise features, with frequent character resurrections, family members killing each other, demons, angels, and such, which goes far beyond a typical "beat-em-up tournament". Nevertheless, the game's story is well-directed, interesting with its epic battles and twists and turns, and adopts as its main protagonist one of the franchise's most beloved characters, Jin Kazama. Besides, if you want to delve into the backstory of most of the game's heroes , there are the so-called Character Episodes, which consist of a series of battles (like a short arcade mode) and are the only ones that feature a cutscene finale, unlike, surprisingly, the "regular" arcade.

Rage Arts are the last ace up our sleeve, if everything has gone wrong. 

An arcade mode that naturally corresponds to what you would encounter if you visited an "arcade room", if they still existed in the form we knew them in the '80s-90's. Choosing a character from among the 32 available and eight duels of increasing difficulty until the final "bad guy" is almost always the first mode one tries in a first-run fighting game. While we're on the subject of character rosters, Tekken 8's starting roster falls slightly short of the one that Tekken 7 started with (32 versus the latter's 36) and there are only three new faces to try (Azucena, Victor Chevalier and Reina Mishima), but it's hard to complain that there isn't a lot of variety. Perhaps the absence of Eddy Gordo will "hurt" some more hardcore Tekken fans, but he (guess what) will be part of the first DLC to be released in the near future.

Beyond the standard arcade, a very nice addition is the Arcade Quest, which is essentially an extended tutorial disguised as a mini-adventure. Namely, we make a "chibi" avatar and enter various arcade rooms around the country in order to become Tekken World Tour champions. Sympathetic as an idea and as an implementation, aimed mainly at newcomers, but won't bother at all those who feel "rusty" and would like a solid reminder. The offline mode is rounded off with the classic VS (CPU or human player) and Practice, while Tekken Ball returns from Tekken 3, where, as the name vaguely suggests, we try to hit our opponent, not with kicks and punches, but with a giant... ball. However, this mode is only a fun interlude and nothing more.

While we're waiting to play online, we can practice a little bit against some bots.

Moving to the online mode now, it immediately makes a good impression thanks to its impeccable netcode, which has both rollback features, eliminating lag, and cross-play capabilities, multiplying the number of available players at the same time, since it puts PC and console players in the same pool. As for its content, it includes the familiar player and ranked matches, while there's also the Street Fighter 6 Battle Hub analogue, the Tekken Fight Lounge, where we can play with other players on the same server, test our luck and skills in group fights and even Tekken Ball. Very useful is the ability to download ghosts (of our own or other players'), which help a lot in improving our skills, either by fighting against ourselves or against other, more experienced players. Of course a skill that improves the more we dedicate ourselves to the game and learn its secrets, either by playing the traditional or the more... newbie way, the so-called Special Style.

Tekken 8 also includes special mechanics that make it more accessible to new players, but thankfully a far cry from Street Fighter 6's modern control scheme. Special Style maps some complex combos to a button, making life easier, but it's not a huge subversion against an experienced player who knows the game mechanics in depth. Because, as much as it may not seem like it at first to a first-time player picking up the series, Tekken 8 is far from ruthless button-mashing.

Arcade Quest combines tutorial and "story". Although for the latter, we are have our doubts...

A fact that "shouts" clearly from the heat system mentioned at the beginning of the review. In this system, in every duel and only once per round, we have the option to enter a heat-mode that on the one hand strengthens our character's hits to the point of "breaking" even defenses and on the other hand opens new paths for powerful combos and enhanced moves. The heat mode lasts for a few seconds, so it's crucial to learn to choose the right moment to execute it, because it's very easy to waste it. However, thanks to it, it is possible to "turn around" an almost lost battle, and if everything goes wrong and we are now on the verge of defeat, as a last resort we have the already known Rage Arts, which, if they hit their target, inflict crushing damage to the opponent. In general, Tekken 8 is very much in favour of an aggressive style, even rewarding players who don't rely too heavily on their defence by replenishing a small amount of health, lost under certain circumstances (such as after a kick received while being grounded), every time we land a hit.  

The consequence of this system and offensive philosophy is that Tekken 8 is probably the top Tekken title in terms of intensity, speed and tactics combined, but it's not perfect, precisely because there are imbalances between the characters. Something that's very much seen in the characters we face in the online mode, which are pretty much the same (no more Yoshimitsu, please). To be fair, this happens in all fighting games without exception, however, based on feedback from a certain portion of players, there are complaints about the performance of some classic characters. Time will tell if these claims hold water and/or if Bandai Namco will move forward with balancing patches.

One of the character episode finales. Too bad they don't appear after we complete the arcade mode.

Where it won't need to release many patches is probably in the graphics aspect. Being a game that uses Unreal Engine 5, even if it doesn't take full advantage of it, the result is highly impressive both in terms of design, detail and aesthetics. Excellent work is also heard in the soundtrack, whose variety of moods and musical genres fit like a glove to the thunderous style of its gameplay.

So with the help of its abundant content and very entertaining "easy-to-learn/hard-to-master" gameplay, Tekken 8 is undoubtedly another masterpiece title for fans of the genre, capable of keeping the aspiring player's interest for dozens of hours.


Many thanks to Bandai Namco Hellas for providing the review code.

Go to discussion...

RATING - 90%


I...control everything!

Tekken 8 is another impressive addition to Bandai Namco's highly successful line-up of famous fighting games.

Γιώργος Δεμπεγιώτης

Lover of action, shooter, adventure, RPG's and sometimes racing games, he prefers mainly single-player gaming. Every now and then he breaks out into a multi, but he doesn't overdo it.

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