The military surplus robot swings his massive fist at your head. You duck quickly and spin, your foot lashing out to sweep his legs away. The robot, name of Jack, hits the ground hard. You leap high into the air and come down on top of him, using your whole body for momentum, and slamming your fist into his crotch (ouch! robots have feelings too).
Welcome to Tekken 2 one of the best selling games on the PlayStation and one of the best fighting games for any platform. If you own a PlayStation, and you don't know this game, read this article carefully. Because unless you absolutely hate fighting games, this is one of the key games to show off your machine (and have fun at the same time).
The most common comparison made is between Tekken 2 and Virtua Fighter 2. In this case, it is an excellent comparison because the games look and feel similar. Their philosophies seem to coincide as well. Both are stylish, polygonal fighting games that concentrate on the fighting. Neither one has fireballs, missiles or secret fatality moves. Instead they focus on creating smooth, 'realistic' combat and accurate graphics.
Tekken 2's strength lies in it's immense variation. You may only begin with 10 different characters, but by defeating the computer, you can 'release' 13 additional fighters. That's a total of 23 fighters! Far more than most fighting games, many of which aren't as well made.
The characters in Tekken 2 are more fanciful than in Virtua Fighter 2. Hollywood action films have obviously inspired the designers. There are Terminator-like robots, murderous women, a character named Law who is obviously Bruce Lee, two sentient fighting tigers that stand erect, a BIG polar bear, and even Satan himself.
The graphics are also quite good. All the characters are well textured and their movements are believable. But it was the lighting effects used in some of the arenas that really took my breath away. There are some kind of roving spotlights that highlight the action perfectly and cast beautiful shadows under the fighters. The 'infinite mirror' in the background when you fight the Devil is impressive without being too distracting.
The moves in Tekken 2 can be a little daunting, requiring thumb-wrenching button combos and very precise timing. Beginners will find themselves at the bottom of a long learning curve. In the long run, however, this can give a game more staying power, especially if you have competitive friends. However, many of the moves are so difficult as to be completely useless. Oh well, you can't have everything.
Some of the special attacks are extremely brutal, attacking groins, or breaking limbs. Several of them are even real martial arts techniques! Aside from breaking limbs (and necks) you can hit opponents when they are down, sucker-punch them: victory by any means. All of this aggressive, anti-social behavior is smooth and well rendered. But they lack the fine accuracy found Virtua Fighter 2. This slight imprecision is covered up by 'sparks' and other special effects that accompany blows. I know I'm getting pretty nit-picky here, but hey, that's my job.
Another twist unique (I think) to Tekken 2 is the infinite fighting area. If you hate the cheap 'Ring Outs' in VF2 or Battle Arena Toshinden or if your irritating friend keeps pinning you against the wall when playing X-Men, you'll love the unlimited fighting area.
All told, Tekken 2 is a terrific game. The variety of moves and characters will entertain you and your friends late into the night. The challenge of beating the computer with every single character (to release the new fighters) will keep you playing until your fingers seize up. To date, this is easily the best fighting game for the PlayStation and comes highly recommended.