Tekken 8 (PS5) Review

Tekken is back and is bringing the Heat.

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Fighting games have been around for as long as most gamers can remember, and with Tekken 8, the team over at Bandai Namco may have just made one genre-defining marvel. From the sounds of the announcer shouting out “Fight” until they say “K.O.“, every battle in Tekken 8 is as exhilarating and exciting as the next.

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When it comes to 3D fighting games, Tekken is pretty much the one and only franchise that always comes up. It has cemented itself in gaming history as “the 3D fighting game.

But what makes this entry in the long-standing franchise so unique and special? What exactly makes it stand out from the pack of currently trending fighting games such as Street Fighter 6, and does it actually build upon the incredible groundwork of its predecessors?

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To answer all of those questions with one word, yes, Tekken 8 lives up to the hype and then some.

Tekken 8 is set to release on January 26 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.

Some of the Best Presentation in Any Fighting Game Period

Tekken 8 looks absolutely stunning and plays even greater.
Tekken 8 looks absolutely stunning and plays even greater.

When it comes to visuals, Tekken comes up constantly in the debate of which game actually looks and presents itself the best. Tekken 5 may just be the best-looking PlayStation 2 game ever. Tekken 8 continues that trend with marvelous graphics that even put some non-fighting game titles to shame.

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Every punch, every kick, and every movement are so well animated and has such great sound design, that just experiencing the game makes you want to go for another round again. Though the particle effects take some getting used to, and maybe some camera cuts during gameplay can be a bit jarring, it still is such a blast to play. The thrill of the fight is real and makes battles all the more fun.

Tekken 8 maintains a steady and fluid framerate throughout, and the superfast loading times of the PlayStation 5 make it a breeze to go from one fight to the next.

The game’s excellent visuals and audio design are even more appreciable in its story mode, titled “The Dark Awakens.“. Every single prerendered cutscene is meticulously well-crafted, giving it the edge against other games in the series, and the transitions from cutscene to gameplay and back just add so much to an already fantastic experience.

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It is a huge step up from Tekken 7, which had noticeably glaring problems in both its story as well as its overall presentation.

Tekken 8 Puts its Own Twist on the Already-Excellent Gameplay of the Franchise

The new Heat System adds a whole new level of complexity to the already deep battle system.
The new Heat System adds a whole new level of complexity to the already deep battle system.

Before some players got their hands on the game via the Closed Network Test (CNT), Closed Beta Test (CBT), and the official demo, some were worried that the upcoming title may be a bit too similar to Tekken 7. After all, despite all of its faults, Tekken 7 had some of the best gameplay in the franchise. It was smooth and, most of all, fun.

So how does Tekken 8 live up to an excellent foundation set forth by previous entries? The answer is, by basically changing up most of what you know about the gameplay, while still keeping the core identity intact. Tekken has always been a more defense-oriented game, but with this game, Katsuhiro Harada and Michael Murray want you going all in on the offensive.

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Aggression is the name of the game, with much faster gameplay, and much more harder hitting attacks. The emphasis on aggression is even more apparent with the newest system implemented in the title, the Heat mode. By pressing specific commands, during any point of the battle, you can enter Heat once per round, and it puts your character into, essentially, overdrive. And every one of the 32 characters in Tekken 8 has their own unique Heat mode.

You have newer attacks, you deal chip damage with every hit that your opponent blocks, and you even get access to this game’s version of the Rage Drive, the Heat Smash.

All in all, this state that you enter should be utilized completely, and it adds a whole new spin to the Tekken formula. When to use it and how to use it—it’s all up to you. But getting used to the system is a lot of fun, and though at first it may not seem like much, the system is much more intricate than what first meets the eye.

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Aerial combos are also noticeably longer this time around but seem to have gotten much easier to execute. This may all seem like too much at first, but the recoverable health system balances it all out, making for a fair battle system in which everything works in tandem with one another. And as far as I can tell, there are no horrible balancing issues, at least for right now.

Offline Content? Online Content? Tekken 8’s Got it All

The Dark Awakens is an incredibly thrilling and exciting story mode.
The Dark Awakens is an incredibly thrilling and exciting story mode.

A big complaint that many had about the previous entry in the franchise was that it lacked quite a lot of casual modes that people less familiar with fighting games could get into. Tekken 8 aims to rectify that with a bunch of modes that you can immediately try out as soon as you boot up the game.

The Arcade Quest mode serves as an excellent way to introduce the mechanics of the game to newer players. This mode, coupled with helpful things like Special Style, easily makes Tekken 8 the most beginner-friendly Tekken game ever. The mode also has an awesome arcade aesthetic, which is sure to make veteran fighting game enthusiasts nostalgic.

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Tekken 8 continues the insane family feud between the Mishimas, this time between Jin Kazama and Kazuya Mishima. “The Dark Awakens” story mode is a ton of fun to play through and moves along the story of Tekken in a meaningful and engaging way. The way it brings together so many characters in its huge cast is a testament to how well the Tekken team can craft ensembles and stories.

Character Episodes return from Tekken 7, but unlike it, Tekken 8‘s Character Episodes are much more reminiscent of old-school Tekken, where you’ll fight a series of enemies before eventually getting an awesome CGI cutscene. This return to form is much appreciated, especially after the disappointment of the Tekken 7 Character Episodes.

The game also brings back Tekken Ball from Tekken 3, which is a really fun time killer if you’re looking to just go hog wild. If you get tired of all the fighting, you can head on over to the game’s much improved Customization mode. The options put on display here are genuinely commendable, ranging from whole suits all the way down to the type of shoes you want to wear.

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Compared to previous entries, Online Mode is a huge improvement. The net code has been improved a lot since Tekken 7, and that was already evident in the previous tests that the game had.

Ultimately, the greatest thing about Tekken 8 is that I can picture myself playing this game for years to come. Whether that be by myself, with my friends, family, or even a complete stranger, the fight will always keep bringing me back. Tekken 8 is a fighting game masterpiece and could even be a frontrunner for the best fighting game of all time.

10/10

10 out of 10

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Tekken 8 was reviewed on PlayStation 5 with a code supplied by Bandai Namco Entertainment. As featured on OpenCritic.

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Written by Adil Farooq

Articles Published: 93

Ever since he can remember, Adil has been deeply embedded within the world of video games, movies, TV shows, and music. And on his off days, you'll find him playing guitar, and working on his aforementioned music and the like.