Article: Namco Bandai's 2012 Summer Showcase
Tales of Graces F, Tekken Tag Tournament 2
As soon as I found out I was going to be attending this latest Namco Bandai press event I nearly wet myself - I've been a huge fan of pretty much everything Namco for a long while now, and I have really fond memories of Tekken tournaments on my PlayStation back in the day that always brings a smile to my face. The event was to be held at a cinema in Shoreditch, which I'd never been to before, so I gave myself a few hours to explore - after an hour you kind of wonder just how many Vintage fashion shops and cafes you can cram into an area of London. Turns out it's quite a lot. So, full of caffine, I set off for the event.
The event itself was really easy to find, and as I got to the top floor of the Richmix cinema I was greeted by Hollie, Namco Bandai's PR legend, who explained I could sit and play anywhere that was free, and that on offer today was none other than Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Ni No Kuni and Tales of Graces F. There was also a free bar - thanks Namco!
I walked in to find stations set up with PlayStation 3s and Xbox 360s, the vast majority of them running Tekken Tag Tournament 2; they also had arcade machines set up and a rather huge 60" TV in the middle of the room showcasing TTT2. As Hollie explained, the focus would be on the "Fight Lab" mode of this new Tekken title, and experts were on hand to teach us some moves - more on that later.
First off though, I found an empty seat to play some Tales of Graces F.
Tales of Graces F
Release date: August 31st
The first thing I noticed when I sat down to check out this title was just how vibrant the game looked - colour was exploding from the screen, and although the character models wern't the most detailed I'd ever seen boy did it look pretty. With almost every scene looking like a watercolour painting, I found myself thrown in at the deep end - the person playing before me had just gotten into a battle.I was able to pick this up easily enough and I enjoyed the battle system - you build up your attacks together, then you're able to unleash even more devastating attacks. Holding down the left analogue stick would make the character do one attack, while holding the right analogue would do a different one. You can chain these attacks or even switch characters mid-battle as well, which is really cool and works nicely. After a battle you gain XP as you would normally expect with any JRPG. From there you are free to roam the area, searching for items, or heading towards your quest goal. From what I saw of the story (which I won't give away) it did look rather cliched; it's all-too familiar territory and any anime fan will see right through it straight away. As I only saw the beginning of the game I can't comment on the story as a whole of course, but all your typical characters are there - your "I play by my own rules" main character, "amnesia girl" returns, as does "serious girl". There's nothing really ground-breaking here from that perspective.
Best Bit: The graphics are a joy to behold - I found myself at one point ignoring the story and looking at beautifully drawn wind-mills.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2
Release date: September 14th
This was obviously the main focus of the event, featuring posters everywhere with loads of 360s and PS3s showcasing this title... and I must say I had an absolute blast playing this game!
Once again, visually the game is looking superb; straight away I jumped into arcade mode to get my Tekken on. All the Tekken favourites are back, meaning that there is an absolutly huge roster of players that have built up over the multitude of Tekken games before this one - you all have your favourites and so do I. I felt confident with my team of Yoshimitsu and Hwoarang, and got upto the end of the mode. I'm not a Tekken expert or anything, but I can hold my own... or so I thought. I was confident enough to challenge one of the Tekken experts on-hand who quite literally wiped the floor with my team - I couldn't get a punch (or kick) in anywhere! Suppose I'd better try out this Fight Lab then.
Now, Fight Lab sounds great - it teaches you how to play Tekken, breaking it down into bite-sized pieces for you to really get to grips with mastering combos and juggling opponents. As opposed to Blazblue's method of teaching, where Rachel Alucard quite literally insults you until you get it, Tekken has made Fight Lab into a game mode all on it's own. You seem to spend points on combos that you want to learn, there is a crazy cut-scene with a lab technician, and it all seems a bit bonkers. I'll try an explain this as best I can in one simple sentence: Fighting a fat guy in a power ranger costume surrounded by dancing pandas. Yep. Fun though! Truth be told I actually learned a lot once I got to grips with what it was trying to teach me.
Best Bit: The slow motion replay of your character KO-ing the opponant after a win; awesome stuff.