Best in the series, and almost perfect all around.
Tekken 5 is easily the best game in this incredible fighting series. The only element keeping it from true perfection is the lack of online play. The fighting is truly fantastic, the graphics and sound are absolutely stunning, and Namco has included a plethora of extra features that make this game a hard package to pass up.
Fortunately, the designers at Namco were willing to admit that they had made a mistake with the fighting system of Tekken 4, and decided to revert combat in Tekken 5 back to the style of Tekken 3 (still with me?). Gone are the difficult crouch controls and "free walk" style from Tekken 4. Now, blocking low attacks goes back to holding down on the d-pad, as opposed to hitting down+back as in T4, and tapping up or down executes the quick and extremely useful sidestep. The rest of combat follows Tekken's obligatory ultra-responsive control scheme, and most of the characters' moves are a breeze to execute, but difficult to master.
Tekken 5's presentation is simply stunning. It's a wonder how Namco were able to push the PS2 hardware so hard to produce Tekken 5's visuals. If you have a big, 16:9 TV with progressive scan turned on, the game looks practically next-gen. The colors are lush, the backgrounds are varied and interesting, and the fighters look amazing. On top of that, the load times are practically non-existent, which is another amazing feat given the level of detail in the characters and fighting arenas.
The sound effects also lend satisfying brutality to each hit. Smash someone into a wall and you'll cringe a bit with the sound. It's not uncommon for players to grunt "Ooh, that hurt" a few times per match. The music is not totally on-par with past entries in the Tekken series, but it doesn't detract from the game in any way. When you're fighting for your life, you likely won't notice it anyway.
Tekken 5 contains every character that has been in past Tekkens, with the exception of Kunimitsu, or some updated variation thereof. Additionally, two all-new characters are included. Raven is an American ninja, who inexplicably looks like Wesley Snipes, who has a very tricky and difficult-to-combat style. Feng Wei combines brutally powerful strikes and quick kicks. Even some of the older characters will surprise you, as they have been changed up a bit. For example, Wang still shares a lot of moves with Julia Chang, but his animations have been changed to make his kicks look different than her's. This not only makes his moves look more distinctive, but changes his range a little bit.
On top of the entirely new game, Namco also included arcade ports of Tekken 1, 2, and 3 on the disc, as well as the short brawler, The Devil Within. The old games don't quite hold up, especially compared to Tekken 5, but it is fun to take the trip down memory lane and have a few matches with friends. There's not much to say about The Devil Within game. It's pretty boring, but necessary to unlock the Devil Jin character and his stage within Tekken 5. In The Devil Within, you'll simply run around monotonous levels, fighting the same people, using the same combinations, and that's about it.
Overall, Tekken 5 is truly amazing. Even the small misteps of the Devil Within game and the lack of online play, don't detract from the overall quality of the entire package. This game is simply so good that anyone who even has a passing interest in fighting games should pick up Tekken 5.