After having a pretty mediocre Tekken 6, and lots of unsatisfying fighting games in-between, I could definitely say that this was the best fighting game I've played in a long time. Harada-san definitely listened to his fans on this one and has made the dream game we've wanted since the original Tekken Tag Tournament.
The gameplay mechanics builds up on Tekken 6's bound moves, where you can switch partners to continue a combo. One usage is Tag Assault, where you switch with your partner to continue a combo after a bound. This puts the opponent in Rage, however, and should be used wisely. There is also Tag Crash, which you can use to break your opponent's combo, but takes away the health you regenerate. So there is strategy involved with using these. The damage is also adjusted, so that you can still do a reasonable amount of damage without having to resort to using juggle combos like in Tekken 6. It gives players the choice to play old-school along with the new mechanics. In VS, you can do 1v1, 2v2, and even 1v2. There is also a mode called Pair Play which allows 4 players to play at once.
TTT2 has many of the same modes previous Tekken games had: Ghost Mode, VS Mode, Arcade Mode, Practice Mode, Survival, Time Attack, and Team Battle. A new mode called Fight Lab serves as a tutorial to new comers to the franchise. The mode introduces a very quirky story involving Lee Chaolan's alter ego Violet, who trains Combot into the ultimate fighting robot. You go through the techniques they teach you with some hilarious mini-games of sorts, and earn money for customization. As you go through the Fight Lab, you also gain techniques from other characters that you can use to customize your Combot's moveset, making him your own unique fighter. Its a very interesting way to teach the mechanics to new players. Customization has expanded since Tekken 6 and the items cost less now.
The graphics are definitely a step-up from Tekken 6. Character models were completely done from scratch. The stages are more vivid and grand than ever before. When fighting, you also get dirty while falling on the ground, so little details like that are a nice touch. There are once again multi-tiered stages, with some having balcony breaks.
The Tekken franchise has always been one of the few fighting game franchises where I have actually enjoyed listening to their music. And this soundtrack serves as one of the best soundtracks I have heard in a long time. All of the music really adds to the stages they are featured in, and really pumps you up for a good fight. Nothing better than having a fantastic track to listen to while pummeling your opponent to the ground. And if the tracks don't float your boat, then TTT2 allows you to change the track for different stages using the Tekken Tunes. This is a very handy feature for those who aren't satisfied with certain music tracks, but really, the soundtrack is fantastic as it is. For the voices, Tekken now features more characters speaking in their Native tongue. Eddy Gordo and Christie now speak Portugese, Leo speaks German, Miguel speaks Spanish, and Lili speaks French. A very nice diversity, and certainly adds to the characters. The sound effects also make it feel more like a fight, and you feel satisfied when you get that punch in.
While Tekken 6 failed horribly with its online, TTT2 remedies that with a fantastic online play. Using a modified version of Soul Calibur V's net code, you can play with anyone around the world with little to no lag. Most of the time, I've gotten 4 or 5 bars, and very rarely get lower than that. The only disappointing thing is that you can't use Pair Play online to team with another player.
TTT2 is the best entry in the series by far. It contains over 50 characters, with more coming with free DLC, which means you won't have a shortage of characters to use. The gameplay is well-balanced despite the wide cast. There is a great load of content that will keep you going for months. Online is better than ever before, and the music is godly. Perhaps my only gripe is that there is no mini game like Tekken Bowl, but that is forgivable as Tekken is a fighting game first. While newcomers will feel a little overwhelmed by the difficulty of the game and by the veterans online, the Fight Lab does a great job at showing them the ropes. If you have been a longtime Tekken fan or want a rewarding and enjoyable fighting game, then look no further. This IS the Fighting Game of the Year.