Street Fighter X Tekken ReviewMarch 19, 2012
It’s a good time to be a fighting game enthusiast. Whether your addiction is King Of Fighters, Tekken, SoulCaliber, Street Fighter, or Marvel Vs. Capcom, store shelves have been packed to the brim with fighters, and as a result we’ve all been spoiled for choice. But competition is a great thing; the cream of the crop rises to the top, while the cheap cash-ins sink to the bottom of the bargain bin. Indeed, Street Fighter X Tekken is, thankfully, the cream of the crop.
While I’m certainly not a hardcore fighting game fan, I’ve been playing Street Fighter and Tekken in arcades since I was a kid. It’s actually hard for me to say which game is better or more preferable to the other, as both franchises have definitely had their ups and downs. Both games feature great characters, solid gameplay, interesting storylines and awesome multiplayer. Although Capcom is well known for their crossover fighting games, I honestly never saw Street Fighter X Tekken coming (let alone Tekken X Street Fighter, but that’s another article) , and since its announcement I’ve been heavily anticipating its release. I thoroughly enjoyed Street Fighter 4, and I was excited to see how these two universes would gel together. As it turns out, the Tekken boys and girls fit wonderfully into the SF roster, and the Street Fighter 4-cartoon style looks great on the Tekken gang.
As for Street Fighter X Tekken’s gameplay, it’s some of the most fun I’ve ever had while playing a fighter. The Street Fighter 4 engine has been tweaked to allow some Tekken style mechanics, such as Tekken Tag Tournament’s tag system and manual throws. There’s also some great features new to both franchises, such as Scramble mode, a chaotic 4 player brawl where everyone is fighting at once with no tags, in an almost Super Smash Brothers fight mode. Both players on each side share a health bar, and you can team up with a buddy online and take on other teams. This, and all other modes, can also be played in offline mode as well.
The combat in Street Fighter X Tekken is fast and fluid, with the framerate never dropping despite 4 players tagging in and out in the middle of some graphically-intensive super moves. You can switch in and out in the middle of juggling your opponent, then tag in your partner to perform the new Super Arts, devastating moves that can turn the tide of battle in an instant. In Street Fighter X Tekken, it’s integral to pay close attention to your health bar, as just like in Tekken Tag, when one players health reaches zero, you chalk up a loss. You’ll need to tag in your partner when the time is right, and Capcom has thrown in the new Pandora system to add a new dimension to the tag system. Basically a last resort, Pandora mode will kill off one of your fighters, granting the remaining fighter infinite Cross Gauge for about ten seconds. If your opponent is low on health, it can be a very effective strategy when used correctly. If your opponent is good at defense, however, you’re essentially committing suicide. It’s a huge gamble and can add an interesting new tension to online matches.
The other big new addition in Street Fighter X Tekken is the Gem System. Gems will boost certain attributes of your fighters, and are separated into two categories- Boost Gems and Assist Gems. They’ll become activated by reaching a specific condition, such as using 2 Super Arts or blocking 5 attacks. Assist gems will essentially just make commands easier, at the expense of some of your Cross Gauge bar. You can create your own Gem System “loadouts” and change them for each fighter, giving the game a bit of an almost Final Fantasy vibe.
As one would easily expect, the Gem system was a huge bone of contention when first announced. Many hardcore fighting fans were concerned about balancing issues, where inexperienced noobs would easily defeat battle hardened fighting game vets. As it turns out, the Gem system is a great addition, as it seems to stop online opponents from being too cheap, making online matches more fun in this game than any other recent fighter. If you find that opponents are constantly spamming a certain type of move or focusing way too much on projectiles or cheap combos, there’s almost certainly a Gem boost that can help counter that and turn that cheapness against your opponent. Also, once you know your own strengths and weaknesses as a fighter, you can freely customize your Gem loadout to help even out your defense and offense.
When taking Street Fighter X Tekken’s online for a spin, I noticed that there was a bit of lag, nothing major, but in almost every instance there was severe audio glitching and audio dropouts. I’m sure that Capcom is already working on a patch to sort these issues out, as multiplayer is the meat of the game. Street Fighter 4’s Fight Request returns, and is pretty much as annoying as ever. I guess some people like the option to have someone interrupt your matches and demand a fight (usually seconds before victory), but it’s certainly not a feature I would have missed had it been left on the cutting room floor. I do see the nostalgia factor though, as the mode tries to imitate playing in the arcades where anyone could walk up at any time and try to take you down.
Without question, Street Fighter X Tekken is an experiment that has turned out to be a huge success. The rosters blend very well with each other, the two franchise’s gameplay is blended into the best of both worlds, and the new Gem System, Pandora System and Scramble mode are great additions that give the game a new dimension that separates it from the pack. This is one of the best fighting games ever created, and I’m sure Namco is feeling the pressure to deliver an even better game with their upcoming Tekken X Street Fighter.