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Tekken 8

Tekken 8

Written by Joseph Moorer on 2/10/2024 for PS5  
More On: Tekken 8

Bandai Namco has a certified long-standing classic on it's hands. We haven't seen a new Tekken in seven years, nine if you count the arcade release of the iconic Tekken 7. With an insane amount of characters, you would see Tekken 7 practically everywhere. In almost every fighting game tournament. On every console. I started my streaming journey receiving one of the craziest beat downs I've ever experienced in a fighting game. Now, no longer will you have to return to getting beat up by Geese Howard, and Akuma. (Yes, both from different fighting games, and yes, both in Tekken). Tekken 8 is here. It's beautiful, I love playing it, it's a return to a form that I previously loved. I hope this has the same longevity as its predecessor.

As I sit here getting air combo'd for the 18th time this match, I think about the early 2000's. About how Heihachi Mishima and I battled for our friend group's supremacy. Before we went out to the clubs on those evenings, we played Tekken 3. When we got back, we played Tekken 3. Anytime we got together, it was Tekken 3. Tekken 3 was mindless fun. We weren't about the 10 hit combos, or the chain wrestling that is King. We didn't even care about the storyline. It was just fun. I can now say that I haven't had this much fun with a Tekken game since then. And Tekken 8 is a lot of fun. All that to say, if you've loved any Tekken, you'll love this one so much, you may never go back. 

Let's talk about what makes this Tekken feel fresh and clean. The game is gorgeous. Every character detail pops off the screen. You can see all of Kazuya's clothing layers. This man has a trench coat, over a blazer, over a dress shirt, over an undershirt, with a broach, and a tie. The reason I say this, is because you see it all. Every stage has it's own interactive properties, such as breakable floors, walls and ceilings, and even destructible environments. The damage is permanent, and stays between rounds. Sometimes the stage even seems to evolve the more fights there are. Explosions, eruptions, even tornados and lightning. All this goes on, with no slowdown, and no negative effects to gameplay. Eye candy for those watching, and non-distracting for those playing. I kicked someone off a balcony just now. They then fell through a glass ceiling, and to the ground floor. Then we kept fighting.

There is no "performance mode" for consoles. The game runs at a crisp frame rate no matter what. You can adjust the dynamic range and the effect saturation, if that appeals to you, but I left this alone. You can also adjust the Battle HUD, but as far as playing Tekken 8 for the visuals, Bandai Namco has made it clear. This is how the game runs, and it is indeed some "good ass Tekken". Even the opening screen where you select the different modes, is just a camera circling around Kazuya, and that model itself is stunning, because Kazuya isn't a real person.

There are two main story modes in Tekken 8. In Arcade Quest, you get to customize an Avatar, and take them through different arcades, starting on the day that Tekken 8 releases. You are new to the scene, and you meet Max. Max will take you through the story of seeing and eventually making your way to fighting the greatest Tekken player of all time. You're not here for the story though. Max will teach you how to play the game, in battles against CPU opponents. He'll teach you about the new systems, how to block and counter, and even give you mini quests to meet during your fights. This is also the easiest way to unlock customizable items. The story ends up being a vision of what Tekken hopes for the tournament scene to be. Competitive, but respectful. We see what you're doing, Harada.

The other story mode is called The Dark Awakens. It's the main story mode. If you've been following along, it's the Mishima Saga, at its most bizarre. Kazuya has taken back over the Mishima Zaibatsu AND the G Corporation after defeating Heihachi. Kazuya has decided that the next King of the Iron Fist tournament will result in the winner saving their region of the planet. All others will be destroyed. This goes back and forth between cinematics and real time fights. There are even quick time events. This story is all over the place, but there are some fantastic elements that keep you locked in. I just wish I didn't have to fight Kazuya 30 times.

If you haven't been following, there are canon summaries of all previous Tekken games in the gallery. What a crazy family. I could've sworn Asuka Kazama was Jin's sister, but Tekken doesn't care for my assumptions. Xiaoyu still loves Jin though. That should bring you solace. There are non-canon endings for every single character. They're really easy to get through and unlock. There are only 5 fights, and some of them will lead you to a ridiculous screen filling final boss, and some won't. I highly recommend you do a couple of these. Just for the fun of it, more than anything. There's even a standard Arcade mode.

So you've played through the story modes, and you think you can take on the online Tekken community. And maybe you can. Maybe you've been playing Tekken since Tekken was "Ok ass Tekken", and that's fine. But maybe you jumped from 3, a little of 6, 7 way later, and you missed all the good new additions to the fighting style. No worries, because the practice settings are DEEP. You can set what your dummy opponent will do, from what they will do after they get hit, to throw escapes. There are combo challenges and punishment training for everyone. You can even pull up sample combos, in case you don't want to try to chain together some of the 80+ moves each character has.

You can show yourself the demo of each sample combo before you go to pull it off. The Data in the lower right hand corner in this practice mode shows off hit properties, frame advantages, and even the distance between you and the other character. This is probably the most elaborate practice mode I've seen in a fighting game. You can even RECORD your status, so you can go back to the exact moment in the middle of the combo to work on your timing. The lab is full of wonder. There's even training for the training mode, so you can tell what you're looking at and what to look for.

The Heat System is Tekken's game changer. At any time during the match, you can activate Heat Mode and gain power crush properties and armor. You can use these to get you out of a jam, or to continue your offense. A meter will start to trickle down under your health bar, and gives you access to chip damage, and more moves and combos. You can also heat dash to follow up your moves, but then it depletes immediately. A hit smash is also available to you by hitting the same button. This leaves you wide open if you miss, and you can only use Heat once per round. You'll see this a lot at different stages of the fight, and the fight cuts into a build up, so you'll see it coming. Stay ready so...well you know the rest.

The Rage System becomes available once your health gets low enough to trigger it. Your health bar will glow red, and you can perform a Rage Art. This will interrupt any attack, as long as you have the health left to sustain the blow. This takes a lot of life, and is intended for a comeback move. I would not recommend it at the end of a flashy combo, unless said flashy combo does a TON of damage, for the Rage Art is scaled with the amount of damage you do. I find it better off just using it to get a win, but only because I am a filthy no good casual.

Recoverable health also seems to be new here. The game is all about teaching you air combos, but I personally think that OTG (on the ground) and air combos can be a little frustrating. Tekken has met me half way, by considering any air or on the ground combos recoverable damage. Chip damage merits the same thing. If you have recoverable health, you can recover it by hitting your opponent whether they're blocking or not. So when you're being juggled across the screen and you're about to get hit by Kuma's fish, don't give up. This ain't Tekken 1.

Now, if you don't want to learn anything, and just want to play Tekken, you can click a button, and pull up Special Style. Special Style will assign automatic special moves, target combos, a Power Crush, and low attacks and throws to each button. Use this if you want to completely make an advanced Tekken player angry. Though it limits you on what moves you can do, this is Tekken. I just got beat by someone who just kept spamming the launcher, into a super move with Devil Jin. The caveat here is that Specialty Mode will appear on the screen. It won't do you any good. You'll still be salty. You can also turn this off, so you don't trigger it yourself, but you cannot avoid these opponents online.

The online modes are pretty easy to get into, but the Tekken Fight Lounge is the new hotness. You can select which region you want to go into, and take your customized avatar, and go through environmental versions of the main menu. You can practice in the Dojo, and play Tekken Ball at the beach. Wherever you end up, you can fight at anytime by choosing the Fight Anywhere mode. The cool thing about Tekken 8, is that you can customize everything. So when you toggle the Fight Anywhere option, you can choose ranked or quick (unranked), change your characters, and customized character slots, and even enable cross play, all from a small non invasive. Then you're free to roam the lounge, and even interact with other avatars. 

When you interact with other avatars in the lounge, you can watch their matches, follow and even block them if need be. Their entire profile is made available to you, so you can even choose if you want to fight this these people or not. You can also send them friend requests, and register them as rivals. I will pay a DLC's ransom to get rid of those pesky chat windows. They always end up the most toxic part of any fighting game. I do not like them. Please make text chat go away forever. You can also emote. Because, 2024. If you want to be a little secretive in the lounge, you can change the ID to be shown between your Tekken ID, Your PSN ID, and I believe your Bandai Namco registered ID. Take the time and run around the lounge to see nostalgia all over the place. Tekken 8, give us Namco Museum games, because...why not.

You can create a room for online sessions, with similar options to the fight anywhere gameplay. You can get up to 17 people in a lounge, and even put them in groups. You can change the consecutive win limit, and even overall win conditions. And yes, you can set a passcode, to keep those pesky pros out of the lounge you've been dominating, because you're the best of your friends group. Every interface in this game seems simple to use, and if it's too complicated, there's help for pretty much everything.

The absolute wildest addition to Tekken here is Ghost battles. You can fight a ghost of yourself, which is an AI-learned version of you. You can also fight ghosts of ANY OTHER PLAYER THAT MAKES A GHOST! So if you're in the battle lounge, and you don't want to fight the actual person, you can fight against their AI ghost, and practically practice against them before you fight them. You wanna fight the style of a professional Tekken player? Find them. You can download ghosts at any time, and fight them at your leisure. Your ghost learns more when you play online, and learns off your progress in arcade quest. You can also fight in game already created ghosts to unlock special costumes and customizations.

You can customize any character, and have up to 10 additional slots for them. From body parts like hair, eye color, and makeup, to clothing and accessories, to even your tan (?). You can even change the hit effects and pre game profile graphics. This goes the same for your fight lounge avatar (which has a few more options), and finally, the Jukebox. All tracks from every Tekken is here. You can have the menu music from Tekken 3 play, and then have music from Tekken 2 play during the battles. You can create up to three playlists, and even play all the music from all the games. I got myself super amped up doing this, and It's actually pretty damn cool that they're all unlocked from the gate.

There are plenty of customizable items here too, from name frames, to in game videos. These are pretty simple, since the game just hands you money for doing pretty much anything. I unlocked all the things for Reina in a few short hours. Go through Arcade quest once, and you've done more than your share of unlockable cosmetic items and multimedia.

Tekken 8 is the whole package. I do have some concerns. Of the 32 characters, only 3 are new, and the already announced DLC is Eddy Gordo. There's a weird thing online if you choose to rematch someone, and they bail, there's a strange 10 second lull before you can go back to your previous screen. They released a patch to try to get rid of cheaters (because, fighting game), and rage quitters don't seem to get penalized right now. And why Tekken Ball over Tekken Bowling? Like seriously...why? Tekken Ball is like Volleyball with no net, and no fun. But you know what is fun? Tekken 8. And I'm excited. I really hope it sticks. 

Tekken 8 is not just a return to form, it's a Tekken masterpiece. Without question, this is the most fun I've had playing a Tekken game in a very long time. It's only a matter of time for people to call this one scrubby too, and I am here for it. Harada, hat tip to you. Beautiful and very fun game.  

Rating: 9 Excellent

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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About Author

Joseph is the resident streamer for Gaming Nexus. He grew up playing video games as early as the Atari 2600. He knows a little about a lot of video games, and loves a challenge. He thinks that fanboys are dumb, and enjoys nothing more than to see rumors get completely shut down. He just wants to play games, and you can watch him continue his journey at Games N Moorer on Youtube, Twitch, Twitter, and Facebook gaming! 

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