When I first bought my PSP a year and a half ago I dreamed of the day when I would be able to play games like Tekken, Gran Turismo and God of War anywhere I want to. Considering the popularity of each of these franchises I never imagined it would take so long before I would be able to buy even one of those games, but after months of waiting Bandai Namco has finally delivered a portable Tekken worth playing. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come.
Tekken: Dark Resurrection is not the first portable Tekken game. Several years ago Namco released the disappointing Tekken Advance, a pseudo-3D fighting game for the Game Boy Advance. While Namco should be given credit for even attempting such a feat on the GBA's outdated hardware, the game just never felt right and left most fans wanting something more substantial. That "something" has finally reared its head, after four years of waiting Namco has created what may just be the greatest fighting game ever released on a portable game system. I might even go as far as to suggest that this is one of the best games you can buy for Sony's PlayStation Portable.
Dark Resurrection is not a true sequel in the Tekken canon. Instead it's a port of the Japanese-only arcade expansion to Tekken 5. But just because this is an update of Tekken 5 doesn't mean it's a rehash, Dark Resurrection features a number of improvements that go a long way to make this feel like a brand new game. This expansion to Tekken 5 features new characters, a whole host of new backgrounds and some of the best game modes you will ever see in a fighting game. There's no doubt about it, even gamers who have put hundreds of hours into Tekken 5 should make sure and check out Dark Resurrection.
This Tekken entry manages to get the most important aspect just right … it actually feels like a Tekken game. If the controls were off (and the game was too slow) then it wouldn't even be worth talking about the rest of the product, but Dark Resurrection controls exactly how you want a Tekken game to control. The PSP's hardware feels like it was built for this type of game, at no point will you complain that there aren't enough buttons or a missing analog stick, this really only needs the D-Pad and the four face buttons.
Some PSP owners have complained about the portable's D-Pad, especially when it comes to the fighting game genre. If you've played any other fighters (especially the Capcom variety) you will already know that the D-Pad can be a bit unforgiving and make your thumb sore. Thankfully this is not an issue with Tekken, the D-Pad feels pretty natural and it won't take you long before you're performing the multi-hit combos just like you would on the console.
The game's control is not the only thing that Bandai Namco got right; Dark Resurrection also plays as fast as it did on the console and in the arcades. This is exactly the same game you've grown to know and love, just because it's on a smaller system doesn't mean you should expect a smaller game. In fact, in some ways this game is actually larger than it was on the PlayStation 2. Tekken: Dark Resurrection is a testament to the power of the PSP.
The graphics in this game are simply awe-inspiring, they far exceed what I thought was possible on the PlayStation Portable. The character cinemas are all top notch, they look like something you might see on a movie screen. Each of the three dozen characters are large and highly detailed, they look exactly like they did in the arcade original. Every move and animation has been preserved, and the overall tone of the game is unchanged. If you're looking for a portable game to wow your friends then you can't do much better than Tekken: Dark Resurrection.
What makes this game so appealing is the overwhelming amount of stuff you can do with it. Simply going through the game with each character and unlocking their ending will take you days of constant playing, and once you've seen every cinema sequence you still have plenty to do. Just like Capcom's PSP port of Street Fighter Alpha 3 MAX, Dark Resurrection offers you dozens of ways to play the game. No matter how much time you want to spend playing the game Tekken offers something for just about everybody. There are modes for those who want to waste hours of their life, while people in a hurry who only have five minutes will find game modes that appeal to them.
While Dark Resurrection has its share of throw-away mini games (such as a silly bowling game you can play with every Tekken character), it also manages to pack in what has to the best single-player enhancement in Tekken history. I'm talking about the Tekken Dojo, a mode that allows you to go from one dojo to the next battling hundreds of characters to become the best Tekken player in the world. This mode works a lot like the Quest mode in Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution on the PlayStation 2, it's all about going up against evenly matched opponents and earning points for each person you defeat. Along the way you will rank up your character and open up new costumes and accessories that you can use to make your fighter look any way you want. In Tekken Dojo you will be able to enter both regular arcade-style bouts and full-fledged tournaments. If you're the type of player who wants a little depth in their fighting game experience than you won't need to look any further than this mode.
Regardless of what type of mode you end up selecting, Tekken: Dark Resurrection gives you points for just about everything you do. That means that if you play a lot of the arcade game you will still be able to buy new clothing and accessories for your favorite fighter. Customizing your character is a major part of this PSP Tekken, it really adds a lot to the personality of the game. These different costumes and items also liven things up when you play the computer, gone are the days of playing against the same looking characters over and over.
While Tekken: Dark Resurrection does not feature any sort of online play, it does over you the ability to upload your characters to Namco's server and allow your friends (and perfect strangers) to download them and play against your customized fighter. While some may complain that this is no substitute for actually being able to play other real people via the infrastructure mode, given the problems other fighting games have had bringing their combat to the online arena it may be for the best. If you've played Dead or Alive 4 or Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting on the Xbox 360 you will know exactly what I'm talking about.
Thankfully the ad hoc multiplayer game is much better, allowing for some truly intense battles that should remind you of playing Tekken on a console. It's extremely easy to connect multiple PSP's together and customizing the rules, and if you have a bunch of friends over there are even modes to get everybody involved. With such a large selection of different characters you probably won't get bored of fighting your friends any time soon.
With the amazing graphics and huge characters you might expect Tekken to get bogged down with load times, but when you start playing chances are you won't even notice the game loading. The disc access is no longer than it was on the console; it takes no more than two or three seconds to load up the level and fight. Best of all, instead of the game showing a boring black screen that tells you it's loading, Dark Resurrection masks the load times with flashy screens that show you who you are fighting next. For a system that has had problems keeping the load times down, the PSP manages to access the information in a speedy fashion.
From the numerous single player modes to the exciting two-player fights, Tekken: Dark Resurrection has something for everybody. It's too easy to simply call this one of the best fighting games on the PSP, as this is certainly one of the best fighters I have ever played … regardless of the console. This Tekken gives me hope for the future of the PSP, it's games like this that really set the portable apart from the competition. If you're a fan of fighting games and own a PSP then you owe it to yourself to rush to your local game store and discover the greatness that is Tekken: Dark Resurrection!
This PSP Tekken manages to be everything you could possibly want from a portable 3D fighting game … and a whole lot more!