If I couldn’t get into Tekken even in its mid-90’s heyday, there’s little chance the seventh entry in the main series was going to grab me either. When the game was announced for consoles in late 2015 developer/publisher Namco Bandai had my apathy. When the company announced a VR mode, it had my curiosity. Now Tekken 7’s available, it has my attention.
Or at least it did for about five seconds.
Calling Tekken 7’s VR mode half-baked is an insult to anyone that’s ever got halfway through the baking process. There was plenty of potential for something interesting here; maybe not the first-person spin-off mode that immediately springs to mind, but instead to create a new kind of spectatorship for the Iron Fist tournament. Imagine if you will the Smash Bros-like setup in which a crowd cheers as if watching from afar. With Tekken 7’s VR support we could have actually been in the crowd.
Sadly, all that’s here is an extremely basic training mode set on one stage in which you can practice moves against an opponent that won’t fight back. The game’s entire roster is available to choose from and you can slow the action down to appreciate the animations and techniques displayed by the fighters, but there really isn’t all that much to talk about here.
Even with this bare bones integration Tekken 7’s PSVR support manages to cause the stomach to stir. The camera will latch onto your character, following them back and forth. Occasionally they’ll get off-center when executing a grab move, and then the screen lurches to catch back up with them upon completion. Why not just set the camera at a suitable position on the map to allow you to see all of it with the twist of your head?
I did have a little fun pretending to be some sort of fighting photographer and walking right up to my camera for a close-up of the action at least.
Also included in the underwhelming package is a 3D character viewer, which is about as exciting as it sounds. It was a little intimidating to stand in front of Street Fighter guest star Akuma as if he were really there (how does Ryu ever stand up to that guy?), but I had no interest in cycling through each character just to say “Huh, cool”.
I’m honestly a little surprised given Tekken producer Katsuhiro Harada’s fondness of the technology. He’s behind the elusive Summer Lesson, released on PSVR only in Asian territories, and I’d have thought he’d have plenty of ideas about how to implement it in Tekken 7. Maybe this is just a case of running up against the technical limitations of the PS4 and having to settle for something much less satisfying, or maybe the development team just forgot it had promised VR support until the last second.
Tekken 7’s PSVR support was a golden opportunity to attract a new wave of fans to the long-established fighting series, and set the standards for a genre largely unexplored in the realms of VR. Instead it’s the single biggest example of unnecessarily tacking on VR support we’ve seen so far. Maybe next time.
Tagged with: Tekken 7