Tekken 3 was a system seller for me. And yes, I just started of a Tekken 4 review with the words "Tekken 3". That's how I roll. So yeah, Tekken 4. I'll TRY to keep this review like the game: Short.
Some minor changes have been made to the Tekken formula, for good and for bad. Nothing really stands out to me except the fact that it's now easier to strafe and move around the arena which is great because that was one of the most anoying things in Tekken 3. You also seem to be doing a bit less damage then what I remember from earlier tekkens, making fights a little longer which I feel is much more enjoyable. Or maybe that's because Tekken 4 seem more defence oriented compared to the others. However, the damage stuff can be sorted out with Tekken 3's handicap settings, and since you can also use sidestepping on the shoulder buttons on T3 these improvements stand out as very minor.
Another thing that stands out is that Tekken 4 is visually stunning. Even during actual game play, character models surpass the way characters used to look in cutscenes of the older games.
You got your standard plethora of modes, although they didn't do anything crazy like in Tekken 3 (ball mode!) and most of it is the exact same mode but with a different name. So... I guess it's not really a plethora of modes at all. Well... You got Story Mode now - so that's cool right. Except, that it is basically arcade mode, but with a story. So another copy-paste. Why am I not surprised? Could have just combined those and be done with it. Maybe put an option in for those who want to skip that stuff. You're timed while you play the story mode and arcade mode, but that score wont register. Makes no sense at all. No, for that stuff to register you have to play through the Time Attack mode which is the third copy of the arcade mode. These three modes could have been combined to one mode. Same goes for Practice and Training modes - Practice is exactly the same as the Tekken 3 one except it no longer has the combo trainer, so that's a let down. And Training mode is probably the only interesting mode in Tekken 4 apart from VS in my opinion. Basically you're given a bunch of commands and attacks, and you try to input these as fast as you can. It serves as a great way of learning some basic moves for a character you might not usually play. VS and Team VS could have been combined into one mode since you can select to fight one on one in that mode as well. Also I don't see why they wouldn't toss a tag mode in there since they spent so much time developing the core for that stuff.
Now I liked the way the story mode was a bit different for different characters. But what's up with some characters not having a CG cutscene at the end?! Did I purchase a corrupt copy of the game or something!? The whole point of beating the arcade mode or story mode is to watch the CG at the end. That, and maybe to unlock new characters. But there's not a whole lot of characters in Tekken 4 for you to unlock either. Maybe this stands out or becomes more apparent because it was released after Tekken Tag, but the roster still feels shallow. One new character that stands out as being interesting enough to be added is Steve, which is basically a boxer - and as such controls a bit differently from the others. I also really liked how Jin has unlearned pretty much everything from Tekken 3 following the events of that story, and "new Jin" quickly became my favorite character in T4 after being my most hated character in T3.
Once you're done with the story mode that's pretty much it. This time around there's no unlockable costumes, so nothing to really keep you in and make you keep playing the game. And no modes to sort of break up the pace like Tekken Ball Mode or stuff like that. The AI is a tad smarter, so I guess you might want to try your luck in the classic Survival Mode or something like that. But other then that it's pretty much VS mode and yeah, Tekken. Remember Tekken? 'Cause it's Tekken. However, some would argue it isn't. And I respect that. But to me the changes made are just not significant enough to even call it Not-Tekken. Also, there's no stats system in Tekken 4, so no place to keep track of your win/lose ratio or anything like that. So that's a bummer.
I was, however, happy to see that Tekken Force mode had been significantly improved - but the movement still feels broken and clunky and it's hard to make your character actually go where you want it to go, and you seem to get stuck on the geometry sometimes while the stage timer keeps counting down, making you lose valuable time. The movement issues become especially annoying when trying to get health pickups, and I often found myself just skipping that and hoping I'd be able to make it without them.
All in all... I'm afraid you'll have to do better then this to keep me interested. When you have a friend over and you own both Tekken 3 and 4, yet decide you'll rather play Tekken 3, that's when it hits you: Tekken 4 is just ... Lacking.