Tekken 8 sees the return of The King of Iron Fist Tournament. The world’s best fighters are pitted against each other once more, this time in a bid to save their countries from the wraith of the demonic Kazuya Mishima.
With every iteration of the long-running Tekken fighting game franchise, I feel that the developers have backed themselves into a corner. Each release seems impossible to top. But every time, the team at Bandai Namco finds a way to up the ante and deliver another Tekken game that raises the bar even higher.
Tekken 8 is the culmination of thirty years of the franchise’s history. Decades of esoteric plots have been woven between the characters, many of which are starting to look quite old, themselves. A lot has changed since 1994, but a lot has also stayed the same. The game is now so much more than just the arcade-style series of bouts that it started out as. For Tekken 8, players are treated to an epic package that features everything from a cinematic campaign to the online social world of the Tekken Fight Lounge.
The story mode, The Dark Awakens, offers a blockbuster plot with series antagonist, the devil-possessed Kazuya Mishima, declaring all-out war on humanity but offering to spare the one nation whose fighter wins a new King of the Fighters Tournament. The plot is a bit clumsy, but no more so than any of the previous Tekken games. The dramatic cut scenes set together epic Tekken battles between fighters both familiar and new.
You can get to know the game’s colourful characters via the thirty-two Character Episodes. These are very similar to the original Tekken arcade mode, with the player treated to a unique ending after defeating a sequence of fighters. Of course, you can still jump straight in with arcade-style vs. matches against the CPU or other players, online or local.
The game’s online mode is based around a social area complete with the player’s cartoonist avatar. You can run around the Tekken Fight Lounge, talking to other players and visiting the different areas and lobbies.
Arcade Quest uses the same visual style as the Figh Lounge for an offline mode that is both a story campaign and a tutorial. Players take their avatar through a tournament story that switches from the cartoon-style world to Tekken 8 fights against the other NPCs in the arcade.
Tekken Ball from Tekken 3 returns, offering players something a little different. In a mash-up of a standard Tekken fight and volleyball, players must hit an oversized ball rather than their opponent directly. A good strike will knock the other fighter down and allow another hit of the ball to cross the line for a win.
The game already has something for everyone, but if you want some downtime, the character customisation gives players something to spend the credit earned in the fights. Each character can be customised with new outfits, hairstyles, and accessories. Each character has several slots to store your creations, allowing for hundreds of character variations to be selected for each fight.
The characters fill the screen with epic combat that is at once accessible but hard to master. I’ve been playing Tekken since the beginning, and whilst I might be rusty, I was easy pickings for the ninjas online.
Tekken 8 introduces new aggressive fight mechanics, with characters being able to unload “Heat” moves and devastating “Rage Art” attacks. These new movies complement the same sort of fighting styles that veterans will remember.
The combat feels solid, with every connection having weight. Some characters, like my old favourite Marshall Law, are all about speed, whilst Paul, whose once unrealistically proud flattop hairstyle now drapes over his face, is all about heavy strikes. Every character has a unique feel and special abilities that sets them apart from the others.
The game uses the new Unreal Engine 5, the result being intense action and visuals that leave your heart in your mouth. Uncompromising character models, backgrounds, and effects give the game a spectacular visual style. On PC, the game supports AMD FidelityFX, Nvidia DLSS, and Intel ARC XeSS. This allows for crisp, uncompromising, fluid gameplay, whatever your machine spec, as long as you have a supported GPU.
Tekken 8 is a modern, well-rounded iteration of the classic fighting franchise. It’s a game packed with modes and polished to a shine. Absolutely recommended.