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April 20, 2005
Tekken 5 - Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Anticipation Players Price

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Two fan favourites.
The Tekken series is one which should need no introduction. Along with Toshiden the original Tekken demonstrated that Sony's PSOne was more then a match for the Sega Saturn. Indeed Sega's Virtua Fighter 2 paled in comparison graphically, and the gameplay was certainly up to the task as well. The Playstation 2 hasn't quite had such a positive response. The PAL version of Tekken Tag Tournament was hampered with horrendous borders and PAL slowdown making it an extremely mediocre title technically, and while Tekken 4 move to a more realistic fighting style, it only added a couple of new characters and pretty backgrounds, but in the process managed to lose that "fun" element. Namco are returning to the "fun" gameplay for Tekken 5 and at this stage it's looking good for fans of the series.

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The lighting is spectacular.
After the completion of The King of Iron Fist Tournament 4, a fierce battle between father and son unfolded at Mishima Zaibatsu headquarters. Jin emerges as the victor in this battle and continues to defeat Heihachi, his grandfather - but spares both Kazuya and Heihachi's lives in honour of his mother who loved peace. Soon after Jin's departure, a swarm of Jacks arrive at Honmaru and begin to attack Heihachi and Kazuya - and in order to escape, Kazuya thrusts Heihachi into the swarm of Jacks. A great explosion destroys Honmaru, and a man watching from afar reports, "Heihachi Mishima is dead." While many presume the death of Heihachi Mishima will end the reign of Mishima Zaibatsu, an announcement is made for the fifth King of Iron Fist Tournament, with an unknown replacement to Heihachi leading the organisation. The fight begins once again.

So what about the characters then? Tekken 4 was a major disappointment in that it only included 20 characters in total, down from about 30 in the previous game. Fortunately Namco have listened and have already announced 20 characters for Tekken 5 with many more set to remain a secret until much closer to the games launch. Those announced include Raven (new character), Feng Wei (new character), Asuka Kazama (new character), Jack-5, Julia Chang, Craig Marduk, Kazuya Mishima, King, Bryan Fury, Yoshimitsu, Jin Kazama, Ling Xiaoyu, Christine Monteiro, Hwoarang, Marshall Law, Paul Phoenix, Lee Chaolan, Lei Wulong, Steve Fox, and Nina Williams.

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Nice backgrounds.
Gameplay wise there will be a couple of new additions to Tekken 5. The first is the long-range throw. This allows you to perform a throw move from twice the distance as normal however it can be rather slow and leaves you open to attack if not careful. The second addition is the crouch status which allows you to evade high attacks while the jump status allows you to avoid low attacks such as kicks or special mid-attacks. Some nice additions which may make for a more strategic game. The biggest change, however, is the increase in speed. The Tekken series has always been a little on the sluggish side when compared with many other fighters and this time the developers are looking to remedy this. Another addition is the way in which you can now purchase upgrades and items for the characters. Without a doubt the biggest, and most exciting bonus, is the possible inclusion of Tekken 1, 2 and 3. These reproductions of the earliest games aren't confirmed for the PAL release, but there's little reason to think they won't be included.

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Cat fight, cat fight.
Graphically this game looks spectacular. The characters are wonderfully detailed and the animation superb. One of the big changes from the previous title is that the arenas are once again flat. The developers have stated that having levels with multiple planes took too much processing power, and by removing this graphical element this power could then be applied to other aspects of the game - a good decision if you ask me. Indeed one of the improvements is the increased number of elements within the levels which will be affected if fighters crash into them.

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Some more gorgeous graphics.
As this current generation comes to a close you can bet your bottom dollar that Namco will be going all-out to make Tekken 5 the best home conversion of their hit fighting games to date. The system is at its sales peak with many gamers looking to the next generation, but still needing that final fix to tie them over. Sure, some of the graphics may take a hit from the arcade to home given the lack of RAM and processor power, but only purists will likely notice the difference. Undoubtedly the developers will also be including numerous new features to the game, possibly a quest mode as seen in Sega's Virtua Fighter and Midway's Mortal Kombat games.

Namco released Tekken 5 in America in early February 2005 and currently expect the PAL release to be late June in Europe and July 7th here in Australia.