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Tekken 4
Tekken 4
Platform:Playstation 2
Release Date:August 2002

Namco delivers another solid game with Tekken 4 that should keep fighting game enthusiasts occupied for many hours. The previous installment, Tekken Tag Tournament, brought the first three games together by featuring all of the characters that had appeared in the series. Tekken 4 continues the story where Tekken 3 left off, bringing back many favorite characters and introducing several new fighters.

Twenty years have passed since Heihachi defeated Kazuya and cast him onto the side of a volcano. However, Kazuya was far from dead. The G Corporation revived the fighter merely days after his defeat. Kazuya allowed the corporation to conduct extensive experiments on his body in hopes of understanding the exact nature of his "Devil Gene." While Kazuya sought to fully unlock his hidden power, Heihachi focused his efforts on creating a new life form using the genetic material he managed to obtain from the magical creature known as Ogre.

The bioengineers working for Heihachi discovered that the Devil Gene was the key to the success of their project. Further research eventually lead Heihachi to the G Corporation. Upon finding out Kazuya was still alive, Heihachi ordered an attack on the corporation. Kazuya eluded capture and disappeared. In order to get the Devil Gene, Heihachi came up with a new plan. To lure out Kazuya, he announced the King of Iron Fist Tournament 4 and offered his entire Mishima Zaibatsu Corporation as the prize. Contestants from all over the world entered what promised to be a great fighting event.

The game play in Tekken 4 should be familiar to those who have played the previous titles in the series. The returning characters are equipped with many of their usual combos, with the exception of Jin, who features a new set of moves. If you are familiar with the characters from the previous games, you should have no trouble adjusting to Tekken 4. However, the game does have some brand new features. For instance, each character is equipped with a move that allows them to switch positions with their opponents. This move gives players a way to avoid getting cornered against a wall. Tekken 4 also features a number of small arenas that can make for interesting matches. The close walls can be used to easily execute devastating combos. A few arenas also feature uneven surfaces, which might require some adjustments to your style.

Many of the major characters from the series are back in Tekken 4. Paul, Law, Hwoarang, and Kazuya are back along with the assassin Nina, wrestler King, and swordsman Yoshimitsu. The new characters include the boxer Steve, Vale Tudo fighter Marduk, and Capoeira artist Christie. The diverse set of fighters in Tekken 4 does keep the game entertaining for a long time. Tekken Tag Tournament technically featured more than 30 different characters. However, some characters played as carbon copies of one another. In Tekken 4, each different fighter does have a distinct style and a wide range of moves. Controlling boxer Steve feels completely different than playing as Hwoarang with his highly effective kick combos. The heavy-set Kuma and Marduk demand different approaches than the more agile Nina or Yoshimitsu.

Despite the notable differences in their fighting styles, the solid game play mechanics behind Tekken 4 make each character very easily-usable. While some of the combos can initially prove difficult to pull off, the basic moves of each character should be more than enough to get started. In addition, many highly effective moves simply require players to tap attack buttons in a specific sequence rather than demanding difficult directional button combinations. Given the large number of different moves for each character, it takes time and practice to master any one of them. Fortunately, the game is designed to prevent this from being too much of a problem. Especially on the lower difficulty levels, players should have little trouble completing the game with different characters only using the simpler combos.

Tekken 4 comes with a number of different game play modes. The story mode allows players to go through the King of Iron Fist Tournament 4 from the perspective of different characters. Each character has a prologue that will reveal what they have been doing since the previous tournament and their motivations for entering the fourth tournament. Upon completing the game, you will be rewarded with an epilogue and a short movie. The story mode also unravels differently for some of the characters and features events that will take place as you move from one fight to the next. In addition to the story mode and the mandatory two-player versus mode, the game features a time attack mode testing how quickly you can get through the game. The survival mode puts you against a series of opponents with a single life bar that only gets partly replenished after each fight. The goal is to hold out as long as possible and defeat the highest number of opponents. Tekken 4 also features a new version of the Tekken Force mini-game introduced in Tekken 3. The mini-game is a simple beat-‘em-up where you can take on a seemingly endless horde of soldiers as you move through a number of different levels.

Overall Tekken 4 is a great fighting game. The beautiful visuals and solid game play mechanics should make the game enjoyable to series fans and newcomers alike. The engaging story mode will likely make players want to beat the game as each character and see the different endings and unlock the hidden characters. The different game play modes can keep the players occupied long after fully completing the story mode. However, those who have played the previous games should not expect to find a completely reinvented Tekken experience. Tekken 4 simply represents the next chapter in the Tekken story. Thus, Tekken 4 is ideal for Tekken fans looking for new content in the series. Given its ease of play, Tekken 4 can also be easily recommended to the uninitiated. However, the game can disappoint the series fans looking for a completely new experience.

The final grade is 85/100