March 5, 2007 - Though Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection has already seen release on PSP, its arrival on the PlayStation Store is still great news for fighting fans. It's easily the best overall value for the PS3 thus far and (more importantly) one of the most impressive downloadable console games for any system.
If you played last year's PSP version (which took our award for Best Fighting Game of 2006), then the PS3 edition of Dark Resurrection may feel a little bare bones. It doesn't have the handheld additions such as Tekken Bowl, Command Attack, or Gold Rush, nor does it possess Tekken 5's PS2-specific bonus, "Devil Within." Why the omissions? Because Dark Resurrection is a port of the arcade machine and not a revamp of previous PSP or PS2 titles; even so, Namco Bandai did include the PSP's "Ghost Mode," which is essentially a casual reproduction of Virtua Fighter 5's Quest.
This Ghost feature is definitely where players will want to spend their time when not competing against a buddy. Deeper and more customizable than the straightforward "Arcade" option, Ghost Mode allows users to pick their own path against virtual opponents who mirror real-life experts. Just like in VF, you can increase your rank and bankroll by defeating foes (especially those of higher skill levels) and then be able to spend your hard-earned cash on interchangeable costume alterations, gallery images, and finishing movies for three new characters (Armor King, Dragunov, and Lili).
Fortunately, modifying your alter egos is surprisingly addictive and the trio of fresh fighters pumps even more life into an already deep roster. As an added bonus, Eddy Gordo has been thrown into the lineup as well (he was originally just a costume swap for Christie in Tekken 5), and PS3 owners also get the exclusive playable boss, Jinpachi Mishima. As expected, Jinpachi is a severely-overpowered cheese-meister with a limited move set, but then again, taking control of the lumbering fire giant is all part of the fun.
Another bit of good news is that Tekken 5 holds up surprisingly well for a title that was built on what's essentially an enhanced PlayStation 2 (System 256). Though character models and backgrounds don't boast the polish or fluidity of Virtua Fighter 5, they still look impressive (especially in 1080p) and boast great stage design. There are even multiple versions of specific levels (Tekken 5 and Dark Resurrection stages were both included), and the wee bit of the slowdown found in the Japanese version has been improved upon.
Of course, the most convincing reason to buy Tekken 5 is that the gameplay still ranks among the best fighters out there. Granted, we've seen it before on multiple systems and the animations are getting dated, but Dark Resurrection is still fun to play and that's what matters. Besides, at 20 bucks (US), it's hard to fault an enhanced version of one of the deepest combat games around just because it's a little old or somewhat feature-lite. However, I will admit that it's rather baffling that Namco Bandai didn't include a practice mode (one of the staple features of home fighting games). For a budgeted download-only release, a lack of online connectivity makes sense; but keeping players from training specific combos or ten-strings outside of actual matches... not so much.
While Dark Resurrection may never look as good as "true" PlayStation 3 software, it's still one heck of a value. For the same price as a PS2 "Greatest Hit," gamers can get their hands on one of the best fighting games of recent memory and enjoy all the same hand-to-hand action that last-gen owners have been raving about for two years. It's a must for diehard Tekken fans or fighting nuts that somehow missed it on PSP.
Load times are super fast (no disc will do that for you) and interface navigation is easy as pie. The player profile system, on the other hand, is pretty sloppy.
Even with older technology, Dark Resurrection more than holds its own. Crisp 1080p visuals and excellent stage design overshadow the old-school animations and slightly-blocky models.
Tekken's soundtrack has never exceeded the superb score of the second game, but the music here is still pretty good. Solid voice-over and thudding audio effects round it out.
Namco Bandai's combat system may be a little familiar, but the new set of fighters, multiple martial arts styles and deep well of characters means a lot.
7.5 Lasting Appeal
For solo players the Arcade and Ghost Modes are all you'll get, but the purchasable items are fun to collect. The true replay here is found in two-player versus, so buddy up and go to it.
8.2 Impressive OVERALL
(out of 10 / not an average)