Preview: Tekken 8: the best defense is attack

Estimated read time 7 min read

If you are even remotely familiar with the time-honoured formula, tekken 8 won’t surprise you. In a 3D arena, our four main buttons control fists and feet, and the pause menu scrolls through lists of long commands like the penal code to print out or memorize by heart. Suffice to say that, if the grip at the most basic level is simple as pie, playing in the big leagues is a delicate exercise that requires training, patience and composure. This closed beta was clearly aimed at the old-timers. If a meager tutorial offers to teach us the basics, it remains very insufficient: any beginner who thought he would discover the franchise over the CNT has been misguided, everything here is thought out for typing enthusiasts who wear their knuckles out of the Electric Wind God Fist the chain.

Forged in the flames of online

And since this Closed Network Test is dedicated to evaluating the netcode, you can only play in a ranked match, although you can train between each fight. So I who was used to tekken late night, the one who rounds up friends in a happy brothel, I quickly ate my teeth. I was far from realizing that I would rub shoulders mainly with fierce people who were there to grind classification. Beta or no beta, they don’t want to know. The important thing is to climb. To make matters worse, my hand Steve is currently absent from the cast, and I had to learn Bryan and Lars on the job. My naïve enthusiasm therefore quickly turned into cautious excitement… the logical consequence of my solid string of defeats (I refuse to give the exact figure, I have a dignity).

tekken 8 nevertheless remains a game of very fine craftsmanship, with stunning arenas and particularly well-modeled characters, even when they are buried under a rain of particles (a knob to lower for the final version). The texture of the skin and the curvature of the muscles, in particular, mark the distance with Tekken 7 (already far from ugly). Same care on the audio side with a selection of brutal electronic pieces that make you want to tear off your t-shirt to play it fight club. In terms of pure gameplay, the controls are responsive, and the few updates to veteran movement are welcome. Bryan, for example, can trigger a buff named Snake Eyes after certain attacks to temporarily boost his punches. A cloud of gunpowder temporarily coats his forearms to mark this state of strength.

The smile of the guy who will take away 70% of your life points in a combo
The smile of the guy who will take away 70% of your life points in a combo

But, it must be underlined a second time, the visual effect of this buff got lost in the anthology of light effects that seems to justify the presence of tekken 8 on next-gen consoles. The fault, in part, to the new Heat mode, which we can activate whenever we want. Heat mode makes us stronger overall: boosted dash, damage in guard (chip damage for friends), improved moves, but also access to Heat Smash, a unique special move replacing the Rage Drive of the previous game. It is, concretely, a powerful tool to finish combos without spraining, triggering a big animation which inflicts a package of damage. Not to be confused with Rage Arts, special moves that can only be used when our life bar is close to death, and whose staging is always more spectacular.

raging paul

The versatility of Heat mode makes it a formidable offensive tool, able to roll over newcomers, unleashing even longer combos than before that drag you from one end of the arena to the other without you being able to do much. If the extended sequences are a trademark of the tekken modern, it must be recognized that tekken 8 are slowly veering towards abuse: they are easier to execute than ever and vaporize 50% of your health bar in the hands of a competent player. Suffice to say that the slightest mistake can be very costly. In addition, certain combos, nicknamed Heat Engagers, allow you to instantly engage Heat mode and start a very punishing sequence, which poses a permanent threat to the match. On the other hand, no defensive tools were introduced. ” Blood for the Blood God “, new motto of the franchise? While it is obviously fun to destroy your opponent with a spectacular combo, the hyper-aggressiveness of the game may offend some veterans.

When the opponent glows blue, they are in Heat mode, and if they are in Heat mode, then better raise your guard lest you kiss the tar
When the opponent glows blue, they are in Heat mode, and if they are in Heat mode, then better raise your guard lest you kiss the tar

The emphasis on the big show extends right down to the character introductions. When two rivals meet in the ring, a little skit can be played to put you in the mood, like Lars and Jin gritting their teeth before bumping their fists and starting the match with great fanfare. A welcome concern for presentation that extends to the arenas. As said, they shine thanks to the graphic improvements made by the teams of Katsuhiro Harada. The MMA ring shimmers under the spotlights and the wan glare of giant screens, while Times Square shines brightly at dusk.

Everyone will be entitled to their slap

But what about the netcode, the very one we came to evaluate through this Closed Network Test? Well, there was no noticeable slowdown or concern for us. A handful of post-match crashes have darkened the picture, but nothing too concerning in a beta setting – the gameplay itself proves to be perfectly stable. Like the rival street fighter 6, the SSD of the PlayStation 5 was used to launch the rematches as quickly as possible, another notable advantage of this new vintage of the tatane. The technique amply honors the well-oiled gameplay.

If the image above is taken from a cinematic, the visual polish extends to the gameplay, immersing us in more detailed settings than ever before.
If the image above is taken from a cinematic, the visual polish extends to the gameplay, immersing us in more detailed settings than ever before.

Finally, tekken 8 follows the trend with a handful of systems designed to facilitate the learning of noobs. On the one hand, the jewel of Bandai Namco finally yields to the sirens of combo challenges, offering a list of sequences to learn and memorize for all fighters. Enough to put his technical execution to the test, but also to complete his repertoire. On the other hand, a simple pressure on the L1 button activates the Special Style, a sort of semi-automatic piloting where all the combos come out by pressing the keys in random order. A good idea for duels at home? Probably yes. But leaving this feature online stinks of a bad idea. Proof of this: I just had to activate it to suddenly run over an opponent who was giving me a hard time, and I obviously suspect my rivals of having discreetly abused it at times. Come on, let’s say it was for the demonstration and that it will be confined to friendly matches by the final version.

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