It’s official: fighters are back. And they’re here to stay.
The fighting game renaissance that began with Capcom’s Street Fighter IV, and continued with NetherRealm Studios’ s Mortal Kombat and SNK Playmore’s The King of Fighters XIII, showed no signs of slowing at E3 2012. Several interesting fighters are coming down the pipe to engage the fighting game community, with some, naturally, being more excellent and competitive than others. Still, many were on display at the big show–here are the best.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 (PS3, Wii U, Xbox 360)
It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a follow-up to Tekken Tag Tournament–twelve years, to be exact. The original was solid and had many strengths, but it was dismissed by many for using an aging graphics engine. This isn’t the case with Tekken Tag Tournament 2. In fact, it looks better and runs smoother than Tekken 6. Series fans’ will feel right at home, as all of the favorites are here courtesy of an impressively deep roster. Most of the move lists remains unchanged, but there are new gameplay balances. Bob is no longer the freak of nature that he was in Tekken 6; he’s good, but not cheap. That said, Namco needs to balance the 1 vs 2 setup because I discovered that using only one character against two is an advantage; I took less damage and inflicted a lot more. The Snoop Dogg arena caused me to chuckle; the Mary J-loving rapper makes a cameo in the game. He sits on a throne infront of the action, while chrome rims and low riders are scattered throughout the background. I don’t know what Namco’s trying to do with that decision, but I approve. Overall, I’m looking forward to the September 14th release date.
Dead or Alive 5 (PS3, Xbox 360)
Okay, I’ll admit that I absolutely hated Tecmo Koei’s Dead or Alive 4; it featured extremely cheap characters, and lacked depth. Dead or Alive 5, on the other hand, makes every attempt to right those wrongs. I was skeptical at first upon hearing it described as “fighting entertainment,” but after spending time with the game I understand the market that this game is attempting to snare. Dead or Alive 5 isn’t the deepest fighter on the block (although the inclusion of Akira and Sarah Bryant from the Virtua Fighter series helps), but it’s action packed and extremely entertaining. I noticed two things while playing: 1) The destructible environments add to the excitement and strategy, and 2) the zoomed in camera angles during certain counters and combos are stunning. The animations are fluid and the combat is fast paced, and of course the boob physics make a return. September will be a busy month as DOA5 has a scheduled September 25th release date.
Street Fighter X Tekken (PS Vita)
Capcom basically takes the console version and compacts this onto the handheld, without sacrificing much of the graphics or fluidity of the console version. It also takes cues from Marvel vs. Capcom 3 Vita and allows players to use the touch screens to perform moves. The main draw here are the DLC characters, and the games portability. It’s nothing revolutionary here, but the fighting action will suffice during long commutes. There’s no release date at the moment, but Capcom says it should ship this fall.
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale (PS3, PS Vita)
Yes, PlayStation All-Stars is a Smash Bros. clone, but a it’s fun party fighter. There aren’t many item drops, but a Sony rep told me that those tcan be turned off to let players have skill-oriented matches. None of the characters felt overpowered, as each has strengths and weakness. Kratos, for example, has long-range attacks, but those same attacks feature equally-lengthy recovery times. Sly Cooper, on the other, has short-range attacks, but is fast and shifty enough to get inside on players. At this point I don’t know how competitive the game will be, but there’s definitely depth there. Sony is aiming for a winter 2012 release date.
Injustice: Gods Among Us (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U)
I can’t say much about the game as I didn’t get my mitts on a playable build, but what I was shown was impressive. This isn’t Mortal Kombat vs. DC. NeatheRealms Studios isn’t holding back on the violence or grittiness that are its trademarks. Batman is obviously human so when Solomon Grundy punches him , he bleeds. A lot. The environments are interactive, so you’ll see power characters like Superman picking up cars, while physically weaker characters like Harley Quinn bashing someone’s head into said car. There are special moves that very much resemble Fatalities, too. The trailer shows Superman perform his on Flash when he punches him in and out of orbit. I can’t say anything about the mechanics since I didn’t play. Expect this one in 2013.
Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown (PSN and Xbox Live)
Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown is out now on PSN and Xbox Live for $14.99. Don’t let the price tag fool you into thinking this is a budget fighter. Not only is it an extremely fun, it’s a technical masterpiece. VF5:FS isn’t a pick up and play fighter as it requires dedication and work; you won’t see many people who have mastered each character. And if you run into someone who has, be prepared for a beating. Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown is honestly the deepest fighter around and one of the most beautiful looking 3D fighters I’ve ever played. Animations are solid, and a variety of martial arts styles are represented here like drunken Kung-fu, Ju-Jutsu, Wrestling, and many others. The game is amazing, and would have been my fighter of the show, but that honor goes to….
Persona 4 Arena (PS3, Xbox 360)
This is hardly a surprise to those who’ve played the game; Editor-in-Chief Jeffrey Wilson will agree that the game took us by surprise. Persona 4 Arena features the familiar Atlus RPG characters and their respective Personas in a 2D anime-style fighter designed by the craftsmen at Arc System Works. The game uses just four buttons: a weak and a strong attack for your character, and a weak and strong attack for your persona. Initially, I was turned off by the simple casual-friendly auto-combo which requires players just to mash on the light attack button, but a rep told me that auto-combos do extremely low damage and they are easy to break (manual combos do greater damage).
After a few matches, I began to realize that Persona 4 Arena‘s combo possibilities are seemingly endless. The game takes care of the infinite combo problem by providing combo breakers, which players can perform at the cost of a bit of meter. Another interesting mechanic is the Instant Kill. It can only be performed at the start of the winning round (assuming both players are tied) and it requires a full meter. It’s extremely hard to land and the recovery time is insane, but if you execute it you’re in for a treat. I only saw one: the protagonist, Yu Narukami, stabbed the floor, erupting in a field of lightning. His Persona then came crashing down from the sky in a cinematic cut scene. I can’t wait to see how the fighting game community picks this apart. Atlus says the game will hit store shelves this summer.
So that’s the E3 fighting game wrap-up. Which fighters are you most excited about playing?