For fans who have been eagerly awaiting that resounding command of "Fight!" to kick off a new Tekken challenge, the time has come. Tekken 5 is finally here and trust us -- it's been well worth the wait.
Utilising a completely new graphics engine, Tekken 5 impresses from the moment you power up the console. The opening movie sets the scene for what those familiar with the series know as the King of Iron Fist Tournament. We find ourselves at Mishima Zaibatsu headquarters, where leader Heihachi Mishima has come under attack and is quickly proclaimed dead. Instead of being the end of the reign, the fifth King of Iron Fist Tournament is announced and the battle begins.
With three new contenders stepping up to the plate, Namco brings us a 20-strong cast of characters on default, and the possibility of unlocking 13 more as the game progresses. Old favourites such as King, Nina Williams, and Yoshimitsu are joined by newcomer Asuka Kazama, who shares her last name with existing fighter Jin (and we're guessing is his sister or cousin as has been speculated). Also added to the lineup are Feng Wei -- a kung fu master with incredible power, and a mysterious agent code-named Raven, who looks amazingly like Wesley Snipes from the Blade movies. All of the new characters sport an impressive arsenal of deadly moves, while the existing fighters' moves lists have also been updated.
There are 15 beautifully rendered CG environments that fights take place on, and have names such as Acid Rain, Burning Temple, Cathedral, City at Sunset, Dragon's Nest, Hell's Gate, Moonlight Wilderness, Pirate's Cove, Polar Paradise, Poolside, Secret Garden, The Final Frontier, Urban Jungle, and Waterfall. Whether filled with lush greenery and serene elements of nature or industrial, futuristic surroundings, each brings something special. The final stage of the game is set in a barren, desert wasteland, with an eerie green alien-esque aura.
If you can switch your concentration away from the mind-blowing graphics to listen to the audio, you'll notice the soundtrack is quite diverse (especially compared to previous Tekkens) and blends smoothly with the theme of each background scene. Sound effects are sharp and intense, with the many familiar skull-shuttering reverberations complimented by various new additions. The characters also hold their own in the sound department, with each fighter offering verbal provocations to their opponents as well as physical force. They all speak in their own native tongue or accent, and even the non-human fighters such as Kuma the bear and Panda are able to communicate.
Tekken gets girly with the addition of prize money and character customisation. You can earn money (represented as "G") in each mode of play, which is then used to customise fighters with accessories and different coloured clothing. Make each your own by adding hats, gloves, sunglasses, mobile phones, and more, with each item unique to their character. Brazillian Capoeira princess Christie Montiero, for example, can purchase carnival headdresses, while Julia Chang complements her own style with a pistol and holster.