When the PlayStation 2 took its first faltering steps onto retail shelves, before it became one of the greatest sales success in videogame history, its game library basically consisted of exactly one game, Tekken Tag Tournament.
That game was essentially an updated version of Tekken 3, with hella improved graphics and the addition of a tag fighting option, obviously. Personally, I feel that Tekken Tag Tournament was the best game in the series and since it used Tekken 3 as its base and took a greatest hits approach to the roster.
Now with Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Namco has used that same formula and as a result have delivered a new champion as far as the series is concerned.
But it's been twelve years since the first Tag Tournament came out and the competition is a lot stiffer than it once was.
Is it enough to just cram the game with fifty-odd characters, and re-introduce the tagging feature? No it isn't, but fortunately Tekken Tag Tournament 2 does go that extra mile to earn your money.
I won't dwell too much on whether or not the game plays well, suffice to say the combat is as satisfying as it ever was and if you enjoyed it in the past you will absolutely love it now.
The game strike a good balance between appealing to series fans and attracting new ones. The gargantuan roster means the old-timers will find their favourite character in attendance - including such absentee characters such as Jun and Kunimitsu - while newer players will find this Tekken the perfect place to start.
The tag feature, doesn't radically change how you play, instead adding a new tactical layer to the combat and it give you some new techniques to learn if you've mastered everything else. Also, it is an optional feature, so if you couldn't be bothered you can just ignore it.
Should you be new to the series or if you just need a refresher, the entirely new Fight Lab is a good place to start.
Fight Lab acts as an extensive tutorial mode, that come with a unsurprisingly cheesy story. It's not as good as the tutorial from Virtua Fighter 5, but it gets the job done.
Fight Lab has you playing as a new Combot that needs to be programmed to be the ultimate fighting robot. It's up to you to take the role of the Combot and teach it all it needs to know about kicking ass and taking names, the process in effect teaching you how to play the game.
By the end of it you may not be a fully skilled Tekken champion, ready to wipe the floor at the next Cape Town Showdown, but you should have the basics down. In addition, the Fight Lab has an entertaining, if surreal story on its own and does give you the opportunity to customise the Combot into a unique character. So if you like you could mix some of Eddy's capoeira with a bit of King's wrestling and tie it all up with Xaioyu's agility. Sadly, you can't make use of him in the online modes.
Speaking of which, the game is simply excellent online. Each character you play as is ranked separately from your profile, so there's a lot to do if you want to 'complete' the game. To keep things fair, the matchmaking system ensures that you can limit searches to people that are near your rank.
It works pretty well, but the system can't account for people whose rank hasn't yet caught up to their skill level, so expect the occasional match where you're completely squashed by someone with a much lower rank.
With ranked matches the game does more than keep a log of your wins and losses. You can actually get together with a bunch of other players and climb the charts together. Effectively you can create a clan and the whole thing is managed and monitored in similar way to Call of Duty: Elite or Battlefield 3's BattleLog.
It's by no means an essential piece of the game, but depending on how seriously you take your Tekken, this could be a compelling feature.
Aside from the online and Fight Lab modes, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 has the usual assortment of diversions you expect. So there's arcade, vs, survival etc.
On their own they wouldn't be worth much, but the combination of them all and the fact they're tied together with the game's signature fighting engine mean they offer you a few more ways to play Tekken.
Ultimately, the way to look at this game is: if you want more Tekken, then get more Tekken. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is the best version of the seminal series to date and is a must-have for all fans.
For the newbies, it's the best place to start since it features the largest roster and, as such, gives you the most options for finding your favourite fighter.
Score: 9 out of 10