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. Rating: 7 out of 10

Chi Kong Lui

Chi Kong Lui

In the 1980s, Chi grew up in small town on the outskirts of New York City called Jackson Heights. Latino actor, John Leguizamo referred to the town as the "melting pot of the world," and while living there, Chi was exposed to many diverse cultures, as well as a bevy of arcade classics such as Pac-Man, Space Ace, Space Harrier and Double Dragon. Chi's love of videogames only seemed to grow as his parents finally caved and bought him an 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (after being the only kid in the block without one). In the 1990s, Chi finagled his way into the prestigious Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts.

Somewhere between all the gaming, Chi some how managed to finish high school and get into the New York Institute of Technology. At the same time, Chi also interned at Virtual Frontiers, an Internet software consultancy where he learned the ways of HTML. Soon after acquiring his BFA, Chi went on to become the lead Web designer of the Anti-Defamation League. During his tenure there, Chi was instrumental in redesigning and relaunching the non-profit organization's Web site.

Today, Chi is the webmaster of the American Red Cross in Greater New York and somehow managed to work through the tragic events of September 11th without losing his sanity. Chi considers GameCritics.com his life's work and continues to be amazed that the web site is still standing after the recent dotcom fallout. It is his dream that GameCritics.com will accomplish two things: 1) Redefine the grammar of videogames much the same way French film critic Andre Bazin did for the art of cinema and 2) bring game criticism to the forefront of mainstream culture much the same way Siskel & Ebert did for film criticism.
Chi Kong Lui

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