VIDEO GAMING

Hands-on impression of Tekken 7 – Street Fighter’s Akuma will feel right at home

The latest instalment of the popular fighting game series introduces slo-mo action, ‘rage arts’ and a major Street Fighter baddie

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 June, 2016, 4:01pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 June, 2016, 4:00pm

For a while, it seemed as though Tekken X Street Fighter was dead. The crossover title between two fighting video game series was supposed to be launched opposite Capcom’s Street Fighter X Tekken. Unfortunately, the latter never really caught fire, so the former faded away.

But there’s a glimpse of hope with the introduction of Akuma in Tekken 7. At this month’s E3 , developer Bandai Namco showed off the Street Fighter antagonist as well as 25 other characters. I had a chance to play the game and check out the Mishima Story in the demo. It pits the Supreme Master of the Fist against Heihachi Mishima.

Akuma plays like he does in Street Fighter. The context of the Mishima Story battle is that Akuma has to fulfill a promise to Kazumi. The two men go at it, and the fight showcases some of the changes to the battle system. One of the interesting twists is the slow-mo introduced during pivotal moments of the brawl. It’s meant to give players a more cinematic experience. It usually happens when players dodge an attack and counter it. It may also happen if they find a perfect opening in the opponent’s defense.

As for Akuma, he plays as he would in Street Fighter. Players can pull off hadokens and hurricane kicks with the same quarter circles. But this being Tekken 7, there is some risk with these moves. Smart players can sidestep the attacks and punish Akuma players. It’s a reminder that this isn’t a Capcom franchise they’re playing.

The Mishima Story is capped off with a final confrontation where both sides regain health and Akuma gets his super meter. As Akuma, I had to inflict as much damage on Heihachi before he could unleash the special move he was charging. The fight has the feel of a demo, showing Tekken 7’s new wrinkles.

If players go into the versus mode, they’ll find a view of the 26-character roster that will continue to grow before its release. It’s also an opportunity to show off the game’s other systems including the Rage Mode. When a fighter gets below 30 per cent health, this ability activates. The character moves slightly faster and attacks do more damage. Combined with other attacks, it’s meant to act as a comeback mechanic.

One of those moves in Rage Mode is called a Rage Art. It’s essentially the equivalent to an Ultra in Street Fighter IV. It also scales up so if you’re really low on health, you deal more damage with the ability to cut away 65 per cent of an opponent’s health bar. Lastly, Rage Art has some armour built into it, so players can absorb some attacks in the process of pulling the move off.

Rage Drive is another option in Rage Mode. It lets players use a skill that further enhances their character. It’s different for each character. With Akuma, it can be especially dangerous because it allows him to do chip damage to foes.

When I was scanning the roster, I found five new fighters. They are the aforementioned Akuma; Claudio Serafino, an Italian who appears to wield sorcery; Katarina Alves, a Brazilian fighter with easy combos for beginners; Lucky Chloe, a girl dressed as a cat whose fighting style resembles dance; and Gigas, a giant mech-type character.

As for the stages, players should expect levels with destructible environments. They’ll have breakable floors or walls. This gives some advantages to some characters. For example, Lily tends to dominate other character on the Forgotten Realm stage, where players can break through the floor up to four times.

Tekken 7 is scheduled for release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC in early 2017.