The opening video of Tekken 5 is an absolute feast for the eyes. Picking up at the conclusion of the climactic battle of Tekken 4, Heichachi and Kazuya Mishima are shown dragging themselves to their feet in the Hon-Maru dojo after taking an almighty battering from Jin Kazama. However, before they have time to catch their bearings, the dojo is swarmed by an army of JACK robots, who have been programmed to destroy the father and son tandem. After an excellently choreographed fight scene (so good that they made it a playable part of Tekken 7’s story mode), Kazuya betrays Heichachi and leaves him to fight on his own because…
With Heihachi pinned down by the JACKs WrestleFest-style, one of the machines detonates a bomb, seemingly destroying everyone in the dojo. We cut to the Wesley Snipes inspired new character Raven, who declares that Heihachi is dead, and the video comes to an end. It’s certainly a very stirring opening that continues a tradition of Tekken opening cinematics being pretty darn awesome, and it sets the tone for another round of bone breaking brutality from the Tekken gang.
Tekken 5 was a game that I was eager to play once I heard it was due to be released, mainly because I’d gotten really invested in the story during Tekken 4 and wanted to see where things were going. As in Tekken 4, every character has their own storyline to playthrough in story mode but with an added bonus of an extra cutscene where they fight someone of story significance. For instance, after King found out that it was Marduk who had killed his mentor back in Tekken 4, he left him beaten and destroyed by the time his story concluded. So during the story mode in Tekken 5, the two men meet again, with the story playing out in different directions depending on who has their hand raised in victory. This always made me eager to play through every fighter’s story so that I could see which other characters they would interact with. There are some very odd ones, with Anna and Lee’s in particular having a very saucy conclusion should Anna be the one to come out on top.
Graphically, the game looks fantastic, with the fighters animated smoothly and brimming full of character. I’ve never quite liked the stages as much as I did in Tekken 4, but some of them are very visually arresting, such as the arenas set in a burning village, a field lit under the moonlight and one that appears to be some sort of space base, which strikes me as a needlessly complicated place to hold a solitary fight in a fighting tournament. I pity the hapless fighters who got stuck on that side of the draw. “Ah, yes, Mr. Mitsu, you’ve been drawn against Kuma. Here’s your shuttle ticket, I’m afraid you’ll have to put your sword in the hold as it won’t fit in the overhead compartment.”
Gameplay-wise, you get the usual tight Tekken experience, with each face button controlling one of your fighter’s limbs. If you’ve ever played a Tekken game before, then Tekken 5 will feel like slipping on one of your favourite pairs of lounge pants. A lot of classic characters make their return to the series after missing some of the previous tournaments, such as Bruce, Wang, Baek, Ganryu, Mokujin and Anna. What’s nice about a lot of these characters is that some of them had been away from the canonical games for so long that it feels refreshing to have them back again. It’s kind of like when a footballer comes back from a long layoff and ends up feeling like a new signing when they finally take to the pitch again.
As well as the classic fighters coming back to the fold, most of the cast of Tekken 4 also return (aside from poor Combot, who sees himself replaced by Mokujin), with a couple of palette swapped characters removed. They are joined by some brand new characters in the form of the aforementioned Raven, Asuka Kazama, Feng Wei, Roger Jr. and yet another version of JACK. Tekken 5 also gives you the opportunity to play as Devil Jin for the first time by completing the additional “Devil Within” single-player mode This mode isn’t as enjoyable as the Tekken Force mode it replaces, and I found it a chore after a while. It’s a shame suffering through it is the only way you’ll get to play as Devil Jin.
Jin’s Devil form also ends up playing the role of sub-boss, and you have to defeat him to get to the final fight with Jinpachi. Ah yes, Jinpachi, one of the cheapest and most frustrating final bosses in fighting game history. I’ll be perfectly honest and say that Tekken 5 was the first Tekken game I played where I didn’t try and complete it with every character, and the reason for that was that I just couldn’t be bothered to have to keep fighting Jinpachi over and over again to achieve it. Fighting him is just so chuffing tedious! After suffering through completing the game with the characters I actually cared about, I decided to call it a day.
The main reason Jinpachi is such a chore is the unbridled cheapness he brings to the table. Almost all of Jinpachi’s attacks will, at best, cut your health down by almost half. His chest fireball in particular is almost always guaranteed to be an immediate fight ender no matter how much health you have remaining. The move is completely unblockable, and you can only dodge it by sidestepping. If you get your timing ever so slightly wrong, then you are deader than the dodo. What annoys me the most about Jinpachi though is that he can stop you attacking at any time by stomping the ground, which stops whichever attack you are trying to make and leaves you wide open for some instant pain. It is so exceedingly frustrating when he does this, and it makes fighting him even worse than it already is. I could live with the overpowered attacks, but it’s the cheap stuff like that which really makes Jinpachi an incredibly annoying final boss, and it seriously impacts my enjoyment of the game.
It’s also disappointing to see Tekken go back to the “wacky monster” trope of final boss when battling Heihachi in Tekken 4 was such a refreshing change of pace. It really felt like the series had turned a corner in Tekken 4 when it came to the final boss, as Heihachi was a fair challenge whilst also grounding things in some semblance of realism. The King of Iron Fist Tournament is just that, after all, a fighting tournament. Fighting Heihachi in a cage whilst the world looked on felt like an apropos way to close out the game. Why did they feel like they had to have evil demon Jinpachi take over the Mishima Zaibatsu and stage the tournament?
Couldn’t they have put someone else in the role? Heck, why not simply have Kazuya be the guy to assume control whilst everyone thought Heihachi was dead and have him throw the tournament as a way to lure Jin out for a climactic battle, only to have the twist be that Heichachi was really alive all along? This would have been a nice callback to the final fight of Tekken 2, just as how fighting Heihachi again was a callback to the original Tekken. Heck, if you MUST have someone fight a monster of some kind, then have Kazuya switch to his Devil form again and go full on Tekken 2 with it just for shits and giggles.
Despite my dislike of the final boss, I’d be hard pushed not to call Tekken 5 an excellent fighting game from a purely mechanical standpoint. If you’ve never played it before, then I would certainly recommend giving it a go. You can pick it up for roughly £10 on Amazon, which is a more than reasonable price for such a great game. The PS2 copy of the game even includes the playable arcade versions of Tekken’s 1, 2, and 3, so it represents an excellent opportunity to have all three in your collection.
If you feel like giving Tekken 5 a go, you can pick it up by visiting Amazon by clicking right HERE.
Looking for other great content here on the site? Well, you can read Dom’s review of PES 2019 by clicking right HERE.
Thanks for reading!