Lots of value to cover up another gameplay-impaired Tekken title
The incestual pantheon of Tekken games comes to it's 3rd iteration, and this time things have changed a lot. Taking place many, MANY years after Tekken 2, the 3rd game in the series stars the sons and daughters of the original Tekken players, with only some of the original players back as aged veterans. The story this time continues the demonic crap of the previous games with Heiachi's plan to resurrect the ancient "god of fighting".....riiiiiiiight, anyway who cares about stories, huh?
While I count myself as one of the Tekken-hating fighting gamers, I still have to recognize that things have improved dramatically in the game series that coined the term "just mash all buttons and you'll be okay". For starters the animations and moves are much more fluid than on previous games, and the moves and combos have been multiplied to the stratosphere with each character holding an arsenal of literally thousands of moves.
Graphics have been jacked up to the max, granted, by 1998 the psx's technology was more than obsolete and the game does in no way match up to the visual quality of the arcade version (lacking the defined textures, using simplified character models and dramatically downgrading the originally 3D backgrounds). The psx version however does provide all the smooth animations and makes it's best effort to match up to the arcade original, pushed to it's limits or not, this is one of the most beautiful games to grace the playstation, and it shows.
Finally, the best aspect of Tekken 3 comes from a playability-value point of view. This game comes LOADED with stuff, with only Street Fighter Zero 3 surpassing it in the amount of sheer extras added to a game that comes on a single cd. For starters all the fantastic cgi/animé cutscenes are included in the game, from the incredible home intro sequence (much longer and involved than the original -also included- arcade one) to each character's end movie, that in a bizarre touch alternate between full cgi, cel-based animé cutscenes, and even cgi over live footage! Of course that would mean nothing if the game had 8 or so characters, but Tekken 3 for the psx has a gigantic lineup of characters, made mostly of new faces, old Tekken veterans, and a pletora of secret fighters unlockable after winning the game with most characters (instead of the time-based lockout system of the arcade original) or via winning the game through the other available game modes. Bypassing the Mortal Kombat syndrome, the hidden characters are actually original and have their own models and moves (with some exceptions) making them much more interesting than the usual 2545 hidden characters that are just faster/stronger versions of a given character.
Furthermore, the game also comes loaded with gameplay modes that range from the usual Arcade/Vs/Survival/Team combo to a couple of extremely original additions that include Tekken Force and Tekken Ball. Tekken Force essentially turns the game into a Fighting Force-like game, only with the characters from the game, and has you beating up Heihachi's enforcers through several stages a-la Final Fight. Tekken Ball on the other hand is a volleyball-like game where you charge up a giant beachball with attacks and try to send it to the other player hoping that it knocks him out and/or lands on his side of the court for points. Each mode awards an extra hidden character when completed and they offer great fun when played on multiplayer matches.
Also available is a pretty bare-bones practice mode and a theatre mode that lets you see all the media from all Tekken games, plus also a few other games as a sort of hack, pretty spiffy, huh?
Still Tekken. No matter how many fanboys this game has, the reality of it is that it's a frenetic and hardly rewarding fighting game for casual gamers at best. Sure, the pletora of moves allows for someone to really, really, REALLY get into a character and master him/her to the point that he plays like a wushu master, performing all sorts of amazing feats and chaining millions of hits per move. However thanks to Tekken's "Everything's chainable!" policy it doesn't matter how much mastery you have placed over your character, because I can beat you just by mashing my buttons randomly and screaming LALALALALALALALALA.! It's frankly incredible how many people still support a series that puts mastery and practice at the same level than casual gameplay.
Characters are horribly unbalanced, with every hidden character somehow being extremely super-powered and with the usual "Tekken Super Character (Tm)" (Eddy, Gon, etc. for this edition) that makes playing with them as entertaining as sucking nails. And every character except for some extreme cases (like the end boss, Kuma, etc.) seem to have the same speed.
The AI sucks ass in just about every mode, and the graphics while good are leagues below the arcade's level. Finally Tekken still keeps going the sci-fi route, with every character still spurting out sparks and plasma explosions when hit (What the fuck are those?? They are the fighting game equivalent of the floating spinning weapons on fps games: cheesy and just a way of showing off the rendering capabilities of the developers), but anyway, I'm just bitching now.
The Bottom Line
Lots of value for those that like their games loaded with stuff, however it's still a Tekken game, meaning save for it's rabid fans most people will find it a flashy but mediocre action game.
In short: Fantastic port that may or may not (depending on your level of mediocre gameplay tolerance) make up for a crap game.