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Tekken 8 (PS5) Review

February 13, 2024 | Posted by Marc Morrison
Tekken 8 Image Credit: Bandai Namco
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Tekken 8 (PS5) Review  

I’ll be upfront about this from the start: I’ve never particularly enjoyed Tekken at all. The most Tekken I’ve ever played was with Tekken 3 and that was just by using Eddy Gordo to button mash out stuff. From a fighting game system perspective, I guess I always enjoyed Soulcalibur’s more weapon-based stuff, or even DOA’s more flashy style. Tekken 8 didn’t really change my perspective too much but I can at least appreciate/respect what it is trying to do.

One thing that I do kind of dig about Tekken 8 is that it is still continuing on the story from the past Tekken games. There is literally a gallery video option for “What happened in the past Tekken games?” going through Tekken 1-7. While it’s likely not as fully featured as a Tekken fan might want, it gave me, a relative newcomer to the series, a decent launching point.

The actual story of Tekken 8 is, as you would expect, utter nonsense. I mean that in a pretty endearing way though. Devil Kazuya fights his son Devil Jin in Manhattan, overpowers him and causes his devil gene to be suppressed. He also destroys a large chunk of the city, killing millions of people. Jin is rescued and now joins a band of fighters to try and bring Kazuya down and to restore his own devil gene, which they think is the only way of overpowering Kazuya.

As for the fighting system, this one almost made sense to me. Basically, Square and X control your left arm and leg respectively, while Triangle and Circle control your right arm and leg. Having it spelled out in the tutorial actually made a lot of sense. So if you want to do a combo with two right punches and a left kick, you would need to tap out, Triangle, Triangle, X for it to work. Really, having only four face buttons is 95% of where Tekken’s fighting comes from.

The only two other buttons you use is R1 and R2. In Tekken 8 there is a “Heat” system where you can press R1 to enter a Heat state. While in Heat, you do a bit more damage and you have access to more special moves to dish out against your enemy. This state only lasts about 10 seconds or so and can only be used once per match. You also have access to a “Heat Smash” attack that consumes whatever you have left of the Heat bar to do a more cinematic attack and deal out damage to the opponent.

Some moves activate Heat on their own though, so you don’t have to press R1. Victor has a move if you press forward and both punch buttons where he uses his sword to do an arc slash, which starts his heat mode. Meanwhile, Reina can do a quick dash and a left kick to do an overheat kick, which activates heat. I’ve found that if the camera cuts away during a move into a slightly more cinematic moment, it activates heat.

The other button you use in the game is R2 and this activates your Rage move. You enter a Rage state when you are at 25% health or below, with your health bar having a fire effect. When in a Rage state, you can do your Rage move, which is kind of like a one-shot Super move from Street Fighter, or an X-Ray move from MK. It’s a much more cinematic attack that deals massive damage to the enemy but you can only use it one time.

There is one other button that the game uses but it’s a bit odd. You can use L1 to toggle, basically, “simple” controls to use, instead of the default ones. This is akin to Street Fighter 6’s “modern” controls, but it happens with a toggle. It’s a weird inclusion because if you don’t know what you’re doing and accidentally hit the L1 button, new button prompts appear on screen, and it can get a bit disorienting. Thankfully, you can turn this off in the menu, but I think the way other games do this by having it when you pick your character at the start, or pick your starting control scheme, would work better.

Tekken 8 has basically three types of story mode: actual story, character story and avatar story.

The main, actual story is “The Dark Awakens”. This is a 15 chapter story where you play primarily as Jin, but occasionally other characters, as you try and stop Kazuya from becoming a fully demonic character. It’s not quite as flashy or interesting as Mortal Kombat’s more recent affairs but it is still a very solid effort. It won’t take you too long, clocking in around 2-3 hours, depending on your skill.

Character Episodes are what they call the character story stuff. These are basically a five fight arcade mode where you get a nice FMV ending when you beat it. I actually dug this mode a lot since five fights isn’t a lot, in the grand scheme of things. You can complete a character’s story in about 20 minutes or so, and then get some fight money along the way.

The last mode is what they deem “Arcade Quest”. In this mode, you create a little avatar and the story setup is that you are a new Tekken arcade player with aspirations of getting to the “TEKKEN WORLD TOUR Master Event” and taking on a vain/snobby player named Orochi. The real set up is that “You go to an arcade, are challenged by the arcade leader but you need to reach a certain fighter rank to get to them. You fight nameless other players until you reach the required rank, fight the arcade master, then leave the arcade to go to a different one and begin the cycle all over again.” Rinse & repeat.

This is a decent little diversionary mode. It’s actually semi-required in spots since this is also where the tutorial mode lives, so if you need help on actually playing the game, you’ll find it here. You can also get a lot of fight money from this mode, which you can use to unlock new customizable parts for fighters, the UI, or to for avatar customization as well.

Aside from the online, which I’ll get into a bit below, there are really only two other modes Tekken 8 offers: Ghost Battles and Tekken Ball.

Ghost Battles are basically like avatar training that other games sometimes have. You fight against a mirror of your character and the game can analyze your play style and try to replicate it. You can train your ghost to be more challenging based on your own play style. You can download ghost characters from other players or the developers to try your skill at them.

Tekken Ball is the requisite “goofy” mode in Tekken and it fits it to a tee. It is basically a volley ball mode where the stronger you hit it, the more power the ball has when it is going to the opposite player. If they hit it with a stronger attack, then the ball goes flying at your character. Being hit, or hitting the other player, with the ball is the only way of damaging each other.

As you might expect from a competent, modern fighting game: the online in this game works! You can fight in quick battles, ranked play, or even Tekken Ball, if you want to. There is a lag/rollback counter on screen but I didn’t really have any issues with it. All the online modes just work, though I wish there was some slightly goofier stuff to do in the arcade lobbies.

The only real criticism I have with Tekken 8 is based on my own view point: I find it just kind of a slow/methodical fighting game. Like, once you get knocked down, it can take you a while to get back up. Or there’s not really, to me anyway, a way to knock an enemy out of a combo if they are really hammering you. I’m sure this is a skill thing and if I had mastered Tekken I would know how to get out of these situations but I don’t, so I found it just kind of vaguely frustrating. I also kind of wish the game did a better job of introducing you to the roster. The “The Dark Awakens” story mode does it a bit by having you play a bunch of different characters, but I wish the game had more of a tier system for: beginner, moderate and advanced levels of difficulty, when it comes to the roster.

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
Tekken, still, really isn’t for me, but this is a very quality fighting game. It is among the best looking on the market, has a lot of modes to keep you busy, is well balanced, and has a fun roster. The fighting engine might seem simple at first but there is a lot of hidden depth to it, if you can suss it out. It’s worth a look if you want a precise fighting game, or if you’re a fan of the franchise. The only thing preventing this game from getting a 9.0? The fact that Doctor B. isn’t in it…yet, at least.

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Tekken 8, Marc Morrison