All right everyone, remove all breakable objects from the room and prepare your thumbs for the blisters of a life time because Tekken 5 has arrived and it's ready to take up the mantle of its legendary predecessors.
Tekken 5 takes place straight after the end of the King of Iron Fist Tournament 4 (Tekken 4) with the opening movie getting us up to speed on the events that have lead up to this year's event. If this eye-poppingly amazing FMV doesn't get your heart racing and your fingers itching for the controller then you need your prescription checked immediately my friend. The opening credits serve the duel purpose of filling us in on the ever important plot and introducing us to the new characters. The movie starts out action packed as ever with Heihachi and Kazuya taking on an army of Jacks which ends with Kazuya bailing on his dad who goes and gets himself exploded. Cut to incredibly beautiful yet incredibly cheesy introduction scenes. So what does this tell us? Heihachi is dead and the King of Iron Fist 5 is announced, attracting fighters from around the globe in the hopes of inheriting the Mishima Zaibatsu (fortune) and realising their personal goals.
The different modes of this game stick closely to the standard Tekken line up; Story mode, Arcade mode, Time attack, Survival, Team battle, Versus and Practice. In Story Mode we learn all our characters motivations for entering the tournament and battle through nine stages to be rewarded with an epilogue movie.
Arcade mode in Tekken 5 is different from what we are used to. Here you choose a character and as you progress through each battle you gain ranks. You begin with the rank of 'Beginner' but will eventually be rewarded with the rank of 'Master.' Winning in arcade mode also earns you 'Gold' the currency of Tekken 5 which you can spend on customising your character.
The other game modes are plucked straight from the previous titles and help to test how proficient you are at your favourite characters. No surprises here sorry.
Don't be fooled into thinking that Tekken 5 is just another installment of the same ole same ole. Namco have packed many new surprises into this chapter of the Tekken saga. We have three new faces in the mix this time; the sinister and ambitious Feng Wei, the ninja assassin Raven who looks like the love child of Wesley Snipes and Spike from the Blade and Buffy respectively, and finally Asuka who is trying valiantly to give Xiaoyu a run for her cutesy dollar.
The character customisation option is also a new feature to this series. As you conquer the dizzying heights of Arcade mode you are rewarded with 'Gold' which you can then use to purchase new costume features and props for your characters. One part of this that I found a bit odd was that each character has one giant prop your can buy to strap to their back. Although they may look cool I'm sure that if I was in a fight and had a giant chainsaw hanging on my person I would be sorely tempted to use it, and what exactly is Nina planning to do with that giant syringe? The mind boggles.
Following the success of 'Tekken Force' mode, Namco has added an entirely new game mode entitled: Tekken: The Devil Within. It is here that we discover so much more about the life and times of one of Tekken's most enigmatic characters Jin Kazama as he searches for the answers to his mysterious Devil powers. They have done wonders with the game play in this mode compared with 'Tekken Force.' Jin's movement is much tighter as you're not confined to the movements dictated by the standard fighting modes. The controls have been simplified making game play easier, smoother and, if we are honest, a lot more enjoyable.
One of my favourite things in Tekken 5 is the startling complexity and beauty of the stage backgrounds. As you progress through the stages you are taken on a wondrous tour of different environments ranging from a burning dojo to an ice shelf on Antarctica teeming with penguins and seals. There is even a pirate's lair where every time you're slammed into the ground, doubloons rise into the air.
Another great feature is the varying degrees of difficulty you face as you progress through the game. In Arcade mode you are given the option of who you wish to face next out of a list of three. Their rank is provided so you can make an educated decision on your next fight, whether you want to play it safe and take on beginner Kuma or see if you have the skills to take on 5th Dan Yoshimitsu. A notable down side to the degree of difficulty in this game, is that when you reach the end boss in story mode, the guy is hard! This guy is eats wasabe on jalapenos for breakfast and then goes for a leak in Bruce Banners letter box hard. No matter how talented you think you are, I strongly recommend taking him on in the easy setting first just to get the hang of it. Don't be down hearted if you hear you continue? Several times as you try to take this bozo down. He has fire blasting moves that will take off 80% of your health in seconds and he also has the ability to stun you for a few seconds so he can rearrange your skeleton for you. The best strategy against this guy that I found is to use a character you feel particularly skillful with and not give him a chance to unleash.
All that said, this is a fantastic fighting game that will leave everyone breathless and sweaty - in a good way of course. Whether you're a die hard fan who is no stranger to Law and his girlish screams or you are picking up this title for the first time, Tekken 5 never fails to impress. With Tekken 6 waiting in the wings for release on PlayStation 3, it is hard to imagine how Namco are going to top this martial art masterpiece.