Wednesday, December 5

Prepare for the Next Battle!

The Tekken 6 Arcade Intro. The Fighting Soap Opera continues...

Yeah, this is another videogame post best left for The Lone Gamer, but like Metal Gear Solid 4, this game is so popular and universal that it's part of everyday life and blogging for me as well. It's the flagship fighting game everyone knows. It's TEKKEN!
Tekken 6 is coming. Actually, it's already arrived- in Japan, though. For now, all we outsiders can do while we wait for the inevitable international arcade release and PS3 home conversion is salivate at blurry, low-res videos of matches on Youtube. But what has happened since the last chapter in the Mishima soap opera?

We last left the Tekken crew in Tekken 5 with then-hero Jin Kazama defeating both his evil grandfather and father (Heihachi and Kazuya, respectively) and then moving on to vanquish his GREAT-grandfather, Jinpachi Mishima, who had been transformed into a demonic creature by his long imprisonment underneath the Mishima shrine. You'd think that with Jin now in the pilot's seat of the powerful Mishima Zaibatsu, things would be cool and peaceful. But NOOOOO...
Given that Jin had a pretty sinister smirk in his Tekken 5 CG ending, you just could tell that things weren't going to go well. Apparently, after taking command of the Zaibatsu, Jin starts taking his company and personal army, the Tekken Force, into world politics. The Zaibatsu's power and influence soon starts a world war, which ends with Jin on the winning side. With almost every country pummeled into submission, only one force stands with enough power to challenge the Zaibatsu- G-Corporation. And by coincidence, the new leader of G-Corp is none other than Kazuya Mishima. Once again, father and son do battle.
And so, the Sixth Iron Fist Tournament is announced, with a special bounty being placed on Jin Kazama's head by Kazuya. From all over the world, fighters come together once again. Some wish to stop the world war. Some seek revenge. Some crave power, or just the thrill of combat or the rush of blood. At the end of the tournament, a great evil awaits, and one fighter will decide the fate of the world.

WHEW! Melodramatic, ain't it? Well, I SAID it was a soap opera, didn't I?

Anyways, Tekken 6 will come with the whole regiment of characters that appeared in the last installment, the arcade/psp/PS3 release, Tekken 5 Dark Resurrection. Along with undead soldier Dragunov, spoiled little rich girl Lili and back-from-the-dead Armor King, the Tekken regulars are joined by four totally new combatants. Leo may seem to be a bishounen youth, but SHE is actually a girl dressed up like a guy. She comes in seeking revenge on Kazuya for the suspected murder of her parents. Zafina is an Arabian/Egyptian beauty and guardian of a royal tomb who is seeking out the meaning behind a prophecy predicting the end of the world should 'Two evil stars meet'. Miguel is a Spanish matador and brawler who's out for Jin's head for the death of his beloved sister (Darn, these Mishimas know how to make people angry, don't they..?). Finally, Bob is a martial artist whose unique body shape (okay, he's morbidly obese) belies his agility and power. Of course, those seeking favorites like Paul, Law, Lei Wulong, King, Nina Williams... they're all here and looking better than ever before.

As for the end bosses- well, here's the word. Waiting for players in the penultimate stage will be Jin Kazama himself- not Devil Jin but normal Jin- albeit with permanent Rage enabled. Once you wipe the floor with him, you'll face off with Azazel, the latest and BIGGEST end boss yet in a Tekken game. Azazel has already been seen before in the game's trailers- he's the dragon-like monster with the beak and floating crystals- and he seems to be some kind of ancient demon or god. What he IS, though, is a large target, and so far players seem to be kicking his arse handily despite his ability to earthbend and use flying crystals for attacks. Hopefully he'll be buffed up and made more formidable for the home version.

The game of course looks pretty awesome, rivalling or perhaps even surpassing Virtua Fighter 5 in graphical splendour. Character models sport incredible detail, along with facial expressions and individually-layered and modelled clothing (more on that later). Even better, all the animations have been redone, and new movements have been added to make Tekken 6 different and fresher from its predecessors. A big factor in the gameplay now is something called the Rage System, where a character whose lifebar is reduced to near zero gains a surge in power to allow him/her to inflict greater damage and catch up to his/her opponent. Air combos are now monstrously powerful and can empty life bars in seconds- I do hope they tone this down quite a bit.
Another treat in store, taking a cue from recent fighting games, is Character Customization. Even more detailed than that in VF5 and Tekken 5, Tekken 6 will allow players to give their favorite fighter a unique appearance. Since the character models in Tekken 6 are basically 'naked', you can swap or remove as you wish from the available wardrobe of tops, pants, shoes, gloves and so forth as you want (don't count on having the girls topless though), and add cool stuff like swords and guns. These accessories won't be just for show though- apparently some items have special abilities which can be used in battle- Anna, for example, can throw her high-heeled shoes at her opponent (it would be hilarious if you actually KO someone this way). Bryan Fury has been shown using a shotgun to juggle his enemy, while Bruce has at his employ a gang of baby chicks (!). These Item Moves are probably more taunts or minor moves, at best, and shouldn't really be anything more than a fun diversion and fan service.

As of this writing, the Japanese arcade release has been out for a week, and the game is making the rounds in arcades. So far, Namco is still updating the game for the final release at the end of December, making tweaks to the fighting system and adding in options and customization options. Hopefully all this playtesting will result in a perfectly-balanced, supremely playable game. This early though, Tekken 6 looks awesome and it will surely be a system-seller for the PS3 when it punches onto the console sometime next year. Since the arcade version is operating on what is basically a PS3 board (it even has the same XMB interface!), I expect the home version to arrive sooner, rather than later (though apparently only after the release of Soulcalibur IV on the PS3). I can't darn freakin' wait.

2008 is gonna be a good year for fighting. In games, at least.

Sunday, December 2

War Freak

I love the Discovery Channel and National Geographic channels like no other. However, I seem to detect that these funds for knowledge and learning are also places where the US Military does some of their most subversive advertising. There are TONS and TONS of military specials, war shows and series about weapons, smart munitions and other scary stuff that basically imprints on anyone watching that the Americans are FREAKY armed like hell and no one should dare mess with them.

Which is fine, whatever. I just find myself just cringing whenever I watch the show Futureweapons with the bald-headed ex-Navy SEAL host almost oozing with GLEE as he shows off piece after piece of murderous hardware designed to blow human bodies up into little-bitty chunks. Morbid, but fascinating stuff. But yeah, I wouldn't mess with the US military...