- Publisher: Namco Bandai
- Developer: Namco Bandai
- ESRB Rating: “T" for Teen
- Genre: Fighting
- Pros: Huge roster; customization options; excellent and deep gameplay; tough oldschool-style A.I.; great music; ghost battle mode
- Cons: Cheap final arcade boss; performance issues on certain stages
The first thing you need to know about Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is that it isn't meant to be a serious Tekken game storyline-wise. The story in the series is already crazy and long and convoluted at this point with a half-dozen Kazamas and Mishimas (the main families in the story), robots, kangaroos, bears, dinosaurs, and many more strange characters running around. Tekken Tag 2 is a side game with goofy costumes, funny ending movies (yes, there are actually full CG ending movies for all of the characters! haven't seen that in a fighting game in a while) and a more light-hearted approach to everything (except the gameplay). Expect a lot of silliness. There are more than 50 characters, with more on the way as free (yes free) DLC, and dozens of stages in TTT2. Good times.
Modes include online matches (that run silky smooth, by the way), and a decent selection of offline modes. Arcade mode has you fighting through a ladder of opponents en route to a final boss. The best thing, and the absolute worst thing, about arcade is that the final boss is a totally oldschool-style fighting game boss that is basically operating in cheat mode 100% of the time who will absolutely wreck you. In my first 100 matches in TTT2 arcade mode I was only 33-67 with almost all of those losses coming at the hands of the final boss. Even on easy mode (which, actually isn't all that easy here compared to other fighting games) the final boss will mop the floor with you. Not since Alpha 152 in Dead or Alive 4 has a final fighting game boss been so cheap and frustrating.
Thankfully, you can still unlock the ending movies and other unlockable goodies outside of arcade mode by playing through a ghost battle mode where you play against pre-programmed ghosts of other players. Ghost battle mode is a lot easier to get into by offering three different matchups for you to choose between (pick the matchup in the gold box to earn extra rewards like the endings) so you can try to keep the opponent skill level a little closer to your own, and even if you lose you just move on to the next fight with no worries.
The final mode is Fight Lab which teaches you the basics of the game (similar to Persona 4 Arena's lesson mode), but keep in mind that unlike Persona not everything applies to every character and launchers and binding moves (the keys to making flashy mid-combo tags with your partner) are different for everyone (look for green or red boxes next to moves in each character's command list to see what moves you'll need to use). Fight Lab also lets you unlock moves and assign them to a fighting robot named Combot, which lets you fully customize a character to fight however you want. One note about Fight Lab is that the trials you have to go through can be very challenging, despite supposedly being a teaching tool for the basics, and some of the tests can be very hard. You have to execute the specific moves the game wants with absolute accuracy or you'll fail.
Tekken as a series is very much based on execution. You have to hit things with precise timing and spacing for it all to work right. Unlike a lot of fighters that let you get away with button mashing and being aggressive, Tekken will punish you if you aren't patient. Yeah, novice players can jump in and play against each other and have a great time, but go online against real competition (or against tougher A.I. opponents) and you will get destroyed. Tekken is also a series that is very rewarding when you do learn how to play effectively, though, so despite frustrations early on for newbie players, if you keep at it the payoff is definitely worth it.
The presentation in Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is nice for the most part. It isn't the best looking 3D fighter around (Soul Calibur V and Dead or Alive 5 both top it), but it does have nicely detailed character models with great animation in fight set in some nice looking stages. The game mostly runs at a solid framerate, but there are some stutters (or out and out half-second freezes) on certain stages that are hard not to notice. The background visuals for online matches are dumbed down a bit to help performance, but it keeps the game running smoothly so we can't really complain.
The sound is also quite good overall. The music in particular is very catchy (we were hooked as soon as we heard the main menu music) and the ability to select the tracks you want to play on each stage (including your own music or even songs from previous Tekken titles) is pretty awesome. The dialogue is mostly in Japanese, but there are some English characters thrown in here and there.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is one of the most fully-featured fighters on Xbox 360 and has some of the deepest gameplay you'll find in a 3D fighter to back it up. It just plays so darn well and every time you learn something new that helps you accomplish something you couldn't do before, it is one of the most satisfying experiences you'll ever have in gaming. With so many characters and so many modes to play through, along with excellent online play, TTT2 will keep you playing for weeks whether you're playing mostly online or offline against the A.I.. The overwhelming value is just too hard to pass up here for fighting game fans. We highly recommend Tekken Tag Tournament 2 for a purchase.