The original Tekken Tag Tournament came out over a decade ago, making its debut in arcades before arriving on the PlayStation 2 in a near perfect arcade port.  Featuring slick tag-team 3D fighting action, the game managed to earn quite a few fans for the franchise, but Namco didn’t revisit the formula in the sequels that followed, including Tekken 4, Tekken 5 and Tekken 6.  Now the company is returning to two-player teaming action with the upcoming Tekken Tag Tournament 2, set for release this fall on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, with a modified Wii U version following during the holidays.

Originally slated as an arcade release in mid-2011, the game has become a huge fighting phenomenon with fans everywhere, featuring over 40 characters to choose from (most being mainstays to the series’ roster) and beautiful graphics that rivaled the ones featured in previous games.  (Of course, that makes sense, given the evolution that Namco wanted to give TTT 2.)  With the home release, players will be able to perfect their craft, learning the fiercest combos and even giving new characters a try that they may not have attempted before.

This is all due to a new addition to the game called the Fight Lab.  This is an enhanced mode being added to the home versions of TTT 2, one that deepens your practice experience as you learn new combos and counters, using an AI system that you can modify in certain situations, however you please.  For instance, if you want to work on competitive grabs, you’ll modify a few switches within the game so that the AI partner isn’t so easy at it, but still gives you opportunity to get it nailed down at just the right time.

Tekken Tag Tournament 2 will have a number of other modes as well, including the ability to go Solo with just one fighter (and even fight a tag team on the other side), or work with a friend in two-player switch-out fashion.  Like Marvel vs. Capcom, you can switch out characters, depending on conditions, and even come in when your tag meter is flashing, giving you an expected energy boost as you re-enter the picture and knock an opponent off balance.  This “Netsu Power”, as it’s dubbed, serves an advantage to get back into the fight, should the situation call for it.

Along with the traditional Tekken gameplay that fans have come to know over the years, the game will also feature versus options aplenty.  Along with being able to modify your team, you can challenge players online through Xbox Live or the PlayStation Network (or the Nintendo Network, once that version is up and running), seeing who can do what online and taking them head on, boosting up your ranking in the process.  If you prefer, local fighting is also available, in case you feel like smack-talking a buddy who’s sitting right next to you.  (And who doesn’t want to do that?)

As we stated earlier, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 provides over 40 characters to choose from, including returning favorites like Tekken 4’s Combot, Kunimitsu and Michelle Chang from the original Tekken (way back in the PS One days!), Angel from Tekken 2 and Ancient Ogre from Tekken 3.  Mixing them up and learning their tactics is part of the fun, and thanks to Fight Lab, you can tweak your performance until you get it just right, without having to worry about an advanced Tekken player whipping your butt in the process.  It never hurts to practice.

Visually, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 pushes the envelope for the series, just as previous sequels have done.  The backgrounds look wonderful, taking place in various locations throughout the world and featuring excellent lighting and animation effects, to really make you feel as if you’re dwelling in this place, rather than just fighting around it.  

The voicework sounds very authentic too, as each character will speak in a dialect that is loyal to their country, like French or Spanish, depending on their origin.  So no more cheesy voiceovers.  You can expect the soundtrack to be bumpin’ as well, especially with the addition of rapper Snoop Dogg, who will be providing a song called “Knocc ‘Em Down” – as well as a bonus playable stage where you can fight it out.  (Too bad you can’t actually fight as Snoop.)

Though the additional modes haven’t been revealed yet (we want Tekken Bowl back something vicious), Tekken Tag Tournament 2 seems to be packing in all the fighting action we have been waiting over a decade for.  With increased tag team play tactics, great visuals and a knockout of a cast, there’s no way serious fighting fans won’t be satisfied with this one.  Look for it this September!