While I don't hold the original Tekken with as high a regard as Brad does, I do consider the second part of the series to be one of the finest videogames ever made period (its number 10 on my all-time favorites list). Tekken 2 was a game that rewrote the rules by being sadistically dark, stylishly sexy and pushed the boundaries of innovative design. During its time, it was a beacon of light for all the dreary clones that were driving the life out of the genre.
So there's a bit of irony that with Tekken Tag Tournament, the series that was once a trendsetter is now reduced to one of the also-rans. Why does the game take a fall from grace? There's nothing inherently wrong with Tekken Tag. Simply chalk it up to the lack of notable evolutionary advances in the face of high-quality competitors. A bad case of too much of the same. Had Tekken Tag been released in a vacuous bubble, it could have easily rated higher, but the reality is that the 3-D fighting games have been experiencing a renaissance over the last couple of years, and it's hard to ignore the accomplishments of some of those contemporaries while playing Tekken Tag.
Compared to any one of today's top-flight fighting titles, Tekken Tag just seems inadequate. In terms of overall gameplay innovations, Soul Calibur (also developed by Namco, understandably) seems to take its concepts deeper and in more interesting directions. In terms of cutting-edge motion-capture animation and advance grappling techniques—once hallmark features of the Tekken series—the game is outdone by Ultimate Fighting Championship, which boasts far more realistic animation and a more complex grappling system. Even in terms of style and accessibility, Tekken Tag can't seem to keep up with Dead Or Alive 2, which not only not only takes its visual extremes further (attacks are more vicious looking and female combatants are sexier), but its also easier to get into gameplay-wise.
When all is said and done, all Tekken Tag really brings to the table is a Tag feature that's going out of style faster than Razor scooters and simply more of the same familiar stuff piled on top what was previously there. In other words, there's plenty of new combos, attacks and multi-throws per character, but it all seems redundant and unexpectedly makes learning to play through the title even more laborious then previous versions (how many 10-hit combos and impossible multi-throws does the developers expect a player to remember for Pete's sake?).
The only notable contribution to speak of that Tekken Tag adds to the gaming consciousness is of course the graphics. That is to say that leather and leopard skin prints never looked so good in a videogame! So to paraphrase Brad's final words on Tekken Tag, the Iron Fist may still be solid, but that doesn't mean it isn't starting to show signs of rust. Though this is a series that may need more than just a polish. It may need a serious overhaul if it wants to climb back up to the top and once again be considered one of the elite.