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Tekken 5 review
Tekken 5
* Developer: Namco (2004) * Testers: Sophie & Nomax

Three years after the last opus, the Tekken series comes back full-force for its 10th anniversary! Namco took his time to prepare this new episode and avoid the license to fade out. Did they do the trick?

* Heihachi Mishima is dead
The Mishima family drama continues in this new episode. It begins just when the fourth one ended; it opens on the fierce battle between Kazuya and his son Jin at the Honmaru. This last takes the top and Heihachi intervenes: a new fight starts. Jin, turned into Devil Jin, wins but has mercy on his grand-father and fly away. Helicopters arrive and unload hordes of Jacks on Kazuya and Heihachi who unite to push them back. But those are too numerous and Kazuya betrays his father to escape by pushing him in the middle of the robots. An enormous explosion occurs devastating the Honmaru. A short distance from there, a man dressed in black witnessed the whole battle and transmits by radio: "Heihachi Mishima is dead". From ignited debris emerges a creature breaking its chains. Curiously Heihachi's death doesn't have affected the operation of the Mishima Zaibatsu company and it's under these mysterious conditions that following month, the King Of Iron Fist Tournament 5 is announced.

Feng Wei. Fear on the city. Asuka Kazama.

* Choose your fighter...
That's what the beautiful FMV (Full Motion Video) intro shows. The story is intersected with short scenes introducing the 3 new characters. First, there's Feng Wei, chinese Kempo fighter who dreams to become the strongest fighter on earth. Asuka Kazama follows, she uses traditional martial arts (Jun Kazama was using in her time). She joined the tournament to find the one who assaulted her father's dojo. And last but not least comes the mysterious Raven (Blade-like), a Ninjutsu practitioner secret agent who's looking for informations about the new Zaibatsu Corporation leaders. This brings the total to 20 fighters to begin with. 13 others will be added by time release (including Devil Jin, Eddy Gordo, Anna Williams and more whimsical characters like Panda and Roger Jr the kangaroo). Namco made a nice effort for this number 5: all fighters are quite balanced therefore no more matches lost in advance!

Other characters will be unlocked later. Let's fight!

* The first match
After having chosen a challenger, the combat can start. First impression: the game is faster than previous Tekkens which makes the gameplay more nervous. This could attract series' detractors. The game is more beautiful and has a better finished look, not only graphically but also on the animation side: many blows were reconsidered and improved (projections, special blows...). The handling is easy but specific to the Tekken series: 4 buttons for left punch, right punch, left kick and right kick. Basic movements are full of useful to know subtleties: guard is done atomatically in neutral position but to protect oneself from a low blow, back/down have to be made. Take this!Jumps height varies according to the duration you hold top direction and the dashes are done by pressing 2 times forward or back. It's the judicious use of left-hand/right-hand side blows that makes the gameplay rather technical. Each character has many special blows, techniques of projection and combos which you'll have to discover! Good surprise: the return of the limit-less arenas in certain stages, for the others, the walls are still there (whose can be used to inflict damages to your opponent by projecting him against). Now, the stages are on only one level contrary to the preceding opus where the landscape was in relief. The on-screen info is minimalistic: the character's name under his life bar, the remaining round time and the number of won rounds. The energy bar is smaller than in Tekken 4 so the rounds are shorter and more brutal. The collision system was also revised: it's more precise and thus more logical. Now, impact points of high and low blows are differentiated: so you can't hit a jumping adversary with a low kick anymore!

A determined man. Castlevania?

* Tekken-ique
The ground blows because of the impact. Tekken 5 runs on System 256 which is 33% faster than System 246 of Tekken 4 and Time Crisis 3. This hardware change is noticed by a higher number of polygons, finer and more detailed graphics and more spectacular special effects (eg special blows). The characters are very well modelled (expressive faces, clothing and hair moving according to the movements) and the human characters are very realistic. The sceneries are varied and animated (waterfall, pinguins, rain of petals, undulating grass, light signs...). Unfortunately, if some are splendid like the stage with the full moon and the balancing white flowers, others are a little dull (in particular the one with the stone dragon). Some stages are particularly neat like the temple on fire where the flames' heat makes undulate all the scenery. There are also some interaction with the scenery; when an opponent is projected, the ground blows into pieces under the weight of the victim but it is a pity that no trace of the impact remains (animation is summarized with blocks spouting out of the ground). On the other hand, if he falls into a garden of flowers, petals fly away. The musics and the sounds are effective but traditional for this game type.

Better not bother the gardener! The whole picture ondulates because of the heat.

* Customization
Some Tekken 5 cabinets allow the usage of a card. It mainly allows one to customize his character (as in Virtua Fighter 4) and saves data such as the number of victories and defeats, the nickname and the rank which varies according to the level of the beaten characters (one can reach the maximum rank of 3rd dan). With each won or lost match, one accumulates points thanks to which one can customize his fighter with various accessories he buys (hat, glasses, jacket, alternate haircut). The card remains valid for 500 games after which he has to buy another one and transfer his character. All of this is automatically handled by the machine. As in Soul Calibur II, one can fight against the ghost of another person who played on the same cabinet because the machine has learned his way to fight!

A beautiful waterfall. Notice the sun's reflection on the building.

* Sum up
Namco won his bet by reconciling the players of the first hour and the allergic ones to the Tekken series. Tekken 5 doesn't renew the genre but has many good sides (many characters, fun gameplay, beautiful graphics, card support). It's a very good fighting game that a wide range of players will like.

It's time to leave this place... Night heat.

* Score

Attract 18/20
The introduction FMV is superb and will not fail to attract the glances. It intersects the ranking and actual fights sequences.
First impression 16/20
Good fighting game but without surprise.
Originality 15/20
Interactivity with the scenery.
Addictiveness 16/20
Bad losers will play again! Others will try all the fighters. There's also the pleasure of facing other human players. Having his customized fighter on a card and trying to reach the highest rank greatly increases game's lifespan.18/20
(with card)
Graphics 16/20
Realistic models, attractive scenery and some nice effects.
Sound 15/20
In the mood musics and effective sound effects.
Gameplay 16/20
The characters are responsive. Less accessible than Soul Calibur but more than Virtua Fighter.
Overall 17/20
The best Tekken. This game will please all audiences.

Text: Sophie & Nomax. Pictures: Nomax & Namco.
Thanks to
Namusco

Where to play?
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