Tekken Revolution is the new free-to-play version of Tekken launched at the start of E3 2013. The game is exactly as that description says: Tekken Free-to-Play. Interestingly enough, though, the game isn’t a price gouger or really even that bad. Is it worth giving it a shot, though?
Same Great Tekken Feel
The last game in the Tekken series I played was Tag Tournament 2. I thought that was easily the strongest release in the series since Tekken 5. Well, Namco Bandai must have thought so, too. Tekken Revolution runs on the exact same engine as Tag Tournament 2 and even looks nearly as great.
While there aren’t a lot of characters, the ones included are not gimped in terms of combos. If you know Kazuya, he has every single move intact. The game is lightning-fast there are no changes to control schemes. There isn’t even an option for newbies like in Capcom’s fighters, so professionals should be relieved.
When people hear the phrase “Free-To-Play,” they usually associate that with underhanded money grubbing tactics. I can’t really fight that assumption, either. Most of the free-to-play games I’ve experienced are severely gimped in some regard or slow progress to a literal crawl.
For some reason, Namco Bandai decided to be generous. This is the same company that sold cheat codes and experience points for its Tales games, so I was expecting the worst. Instead of any of that, you simply have regenerating coins that will block your ability to play game modes for a few hours.
There is an offline Arcade mode and then Player and Ranked matches. You start with two tokens for Arcade and five for Online. Offline tokens will regenerate by one every hour. Online tokens will regenerate by one every 30 minutes. These tokens even regenerate while you’re offline.
Mixed in with these is the ability to randomly win Premium tickets. These can substitute for a token of either category. If you don’t feel like waiting, you can buy different amounts of Premium Tokens that act the same way, but require a real money purchase.
There are no options to pay for character unlocks or even experience upgrades. These are all acquired by playing the game. You will run into people who have invested a lot of time (and I suppose buying more tokens might allow them to gain more experience), but there is a pretty slim chance that the game will break from money.
Honestly, I was on a hot streak in Ranked battles and unlocked a Premium Ticket almost every battle. I played for a solid hour before I was halted. I was really getting into the game, too. For the price of free, though, you can’t really fault a model like this.
The Tekken series has always been a technological wonder. I didn’t expect that to translate with this downloadable game. Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown was comprised in fidelity, but Namco Bandai somehow managed to make its 2 GB download a pretty nice-looking gem.
Everyone looks just as good as in Tekken Tag Tournament 2. I think the motion blur is missing, but the game actually has some new particle effects in play. Even so, the animations are smooth and fast, the frame rate never fumbles and the backgrounds are very detailed. This could pass for a retail game.
The online play is very well done. While there may be a lack of options, I haven’t encountered any kind of lag at all. Revolution utilizes the same netcode that Tekken Tag Tournament 2 did, so if you had problems with that game, I guess they may persist.
Still, for free, I am very impressed with how well this game performs online. I never dropped combos and I haven’t even had people quit on me. Matches get intense and you never want to scream because of lag.
Tekken Revolution comes with 12 characters. Eight of them are unlocked when you start and a few are unlocked by simply playing any game mode. No one is a clone character (like the DLC for Tekken Tag Tournament 2) and each person feels unique and memorable.
Lack of Modes
While paying nothing and getting only a few modes should be expected, I still have to mention this as a detriment. You will certainly get a few quality hours of gameplay out of this download, but having just a little bit of something else would go a long way.
There are no offline modes other than Arcade battle. There isn’t even a two-player offline option. There is no Ghost battle from previous Tekken games or even a model viewer. You can’t even customize costumes (though that would probably require a larger file size).
On the online front, you just have Ranked and Player match. You can create lobbies, but there aren’t any special modes to them. No team battles, no tag mode; you just get plain, old, vanilla-style fighting.
It has been stated in interviews that extra modes could possibly see a release as DLC. I’m not sure if they would remain free, but I will do a separate review if I feel the need arises.
While the game is essentially a stripped-down clone of Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Revolution actually does add some new things. Each character has a few moves called “Special Arts.” While I know with Kazuya that some of his older moves are just given better damage properties, these attacks allow newer players to even the playing field.
My problem with them, though, is that they are essentially spammable. You can get yourself out of a lot of situations by just inputting the Special Arts. I often interrupt long combos on a whim by mashing the buttons and praying for the best.
I did fight pros online that were able to punish me, but I do feel these moves are just a bit too cheap. For a game so dedicated to maintaining balance and being fair, these Special Arts just seem like a step in the wrong direction.
Another new feature in Tekken Revolution is the ability to buy experience points with in-game currency. Once you level up (determined by some form of statistic for winning matches), you are given a few points to allot to your character. These will increase Health, Power and Endurance.
This will probably lead to people who dedicate a lot of time to the game and simply become overpowered in the future. I invested around 20 points into my vitality and I have an extra fourth of a health bar. This just simply isn’t fair.
When you first start out with zero in each category and a challenger has 50 in his Power stat, you might just be looking at an already-decided battle. The Tekken fighting system is balanced enough, but giving players the opportunity to increase their characters’ stats might lead to unfair fights.
All of the stages and character models are recycled from Tekken Tag Tournament 2. While expecting fully original arenas might be a bit too much to ask for, this does make the game feel boring. I know there is DLC planned, but I would have liked to see at least one original piece of content.
Tekken Revolution employs one of the best free-to-play models I have ever seen. I like how generous the coin allotments are and that the requirements for playing aren’t locked behind pay walls. While a lack of originality hurts, I can’t really blame the game for being cheaply made.
I cannot claim if the Premium Token model mixed with the ability to alter Experience Points will hurt the game in the long run, but I don’t see a future where complete novices will find it impossible to play online. Worst comes to worst, you just download this and play with your friends.
A future full of DLC worries me, but as you can always ignore that, Tekken Revolution is definitely worth a shot. I could be more strict, but the price is definitely right.