Tekken has been a long time coming in good form to the handheld scene, and here it finally is, for all to partake in the goodness. Tekken exemplifies how to fit so much into such a little disc, and also illustrates for future developers what needs to be sacrificed when bringing their IPs to the PSP (hint: very little).
Tekken: Dark Resurrection's story is the same as last year's Tekken 5 for the PS2, discounting the three new (and returning) characters introduced in this version, and each story path comes complete with their own hand-drawn story introductions, in-game-engine cut scenes, and CG endings, but that is not where the meat of the game is.
The meat of the game, is, of course, the fighting engine. Tekken 5.2 (as it is oft called) boasts newly-enhanced balancing of all of its characters, as well as new tweaks to the engine that improve the wake-up game considerably, allowing more attacks to hit grounded opponents, but still giving the groundee the opportunity to defend.
The main point, however, of all fighting games is to play multiplayer with other people, and Namco excels at this. They include ad-hoc mode to great effect, with little lag between two PSP systems. They even allow for both multi-disc and download play! What more could Tekkeners on the go ask for?
Well, how about an enhanced single-player experience, with a smarter (albeit still, at times, annoying) AI system that learns from players all around the world, and, when they connect to Namco's network to update their time attack and other scores, they put their 'ghosts' onto Namco's network for the whole world to download? Yes, that'll do nicely. The ghosts are intelligent enough to mimic each player's combos, pulling off some far more interesting combos than I've ever seen from any AI in a Tekken game previously. It even uses some setups that the player uses, but is still prone to being a little stupid at times (10-string FTW).
You can also customize your characters in this game, adding bits of jewelry, jackets, different pants, or just changing the colors of their clothing to suit your personal style. It costs a lot to get the more interesting items (900,000G for a neat mask for King), but it's worth it to add your own flair to your character's appearance.
Now, for the problems, which, while small and mostly cosmetic, are a bit numerous. First thing's first, many people are wondering why the victory poses are done in 30fps as opposed to the fighting portion's 60fps. The reason is that Namco pulled a bait and switch, offering higher-polygon models for the close-ups, with full lip-synching, while the fighting part's character models have fewer polygons, and absolutely no lip-synching or facial expression changes, even when punched. While not too obvious, once you notice it, it bothers you, if only a bit.
Secondly, ad-hoc mode has random bouts of unexplainable latency in the controls, but it is very infrequent, so that's not too big an issue there.
Thirdly, the controls take some getting used to, not because of the game's programming of them (which is exemplary), but because of the PSP's d-pad, which is the only way to perform movement (the analog nub goes unused in combat). If you pre-ordered at an EB Games or GameStop, you may have gotten a PSP D-Pad attachment that increased the height of the D-Pad considerably, which helps in the short run to break in the PSP D-Pad. The adhesive for the mod will loosen pretty quickly, though, but by that time it should be much looser and more playable for fighters.
All in all, if you own a PSP, you owe it to yourself to get this game.