Welcome To The Crossover Battle
Street Fighter X Tekken is the crossover fighting game that fighting game fans have been waiting for ever since Marvel vs. Capcom 3. The game features an interesting blend of Tekken and Street Fighter mechanics that emphasizes comboability and execution above all else. It also has an incredible feature set that is far more expanded than anything we have seen come out of Capcom before. It’s certainly a refinement of the Capcom fighting game formula, but the new renewed focus on combos and execution risks alienating the less skilled audience.
Let’s go over the basic gameplay systems first. This is a six-button fighter, designed to be played on an arcade stick. Three punches, three kicks, no aerial dashing or blocking—in that respect it plays a lot like Street Fighter IV. The game is also a 2v2 team fighter, but this doesn’t mean Capcom has just made another Marvel vs. Capcom clone. The 2v2 fighting is actually much closer to Tekken Tag Tournament; when one character dies, you lose the round. So be sure to carefully tag in and out to manage your life total.
There are a lot of intricate systems in SFxTK to take note of. First, you have a three-stock “Cross Gauge.” This super bar allows you to pull of EX moves for one stock, super arts for two stocks, and special techniques like the Cross Assault and Cross Art for three stocks. Double quarter-circle motions are all gone, as all super arts are performed with a motion and three buttons instead. It’s simple, like Marvel, and it lets even less skilled players have access to advanced techniques on day one.
The Cross Assault calls in both characters to fight at the same time with one being controlled by the A.I., and Cross Arts are just more powerful super arts performed by both characters. There is also Pandora Mode, which sacrifices one character to give the other an eight-second power boost. However, if you don’t win the game by the time those eight seconds are up, you die. You can tag cancel by using a bar of meter to set up some interesting combo opportunities, and charge up special moves to get supers and EX moves for free. It’s a lot to learn, but they all come together in an interesting way that gives you plenty of options at any given point in a battle.
Then there is the much loved and loathed gem system. Unlike other fighting games, characters in SFxTK can equip gems to alter their stats. After reaching an activation condition such as “land five attacks” or “block three times” the gems activate and give you a short power-up. Gems can increase your attack, defense, or speed, regain your health, gain you more meter, and more. There are also “assist gems,” which simplify move inputs and allow you to auto block if you are a newbie to SF-style fighting games.
And there’s so much more! You can play 2v2 team play with four players. You can train online with a friend before going into ranked and unranked battles and lobbies. There’s even a host of tutorials and trials to play if you are totally new to fighting games in general. To top it all off, the netcode in this game is revolutionary, seriously reducing lag for online play.
So with all of these features, Street Fighter X Tekken must be the perfect package, right? Well, not really. Unfortunately, everything about Street Fighter X Tekken feels a tiny bit “off.” For example, let’s look at the combo system. Light chains to medium to heavy, as is the case in most fast fighters like Marvel 3, but specials can’t cancel off chains unless they are EX moves. This feels like an arbitrary rule that will just confuse newbies. Some normals can’t be canceled out of at all, and there’s no way to tell except through trial and error.
There is no hit-stun degradation in the game and comboing is easier than it is in Street Fighter IV. However, each move has a limited amount of “juggle points” in the air, and when these run out the opponent will just fall right through your attack. These points aren’t a known quantity either. They are all calculated behind the scenes with no visual indicator to show you when your points have run out. So without serious study you’ll find your combos drop for no reason.
This trend of things feeling a little “off” saturates every bit of the game. The netcode, as I said before, is revolutionary in terms of latency, but it somehow seriously affects the game’s audio performance. Throughout a match, you’ll randomly hear hit effects drop in and out, and, as a result, you’ll have no audio confirmation on when an attack hits. This is incredibly disorienting and unfortunately sours the experience of playing a lag-free match online.
The gems also feel weird and poorly constructed. At first glance, there are simply some gems that are better than the others. Gems that activate due to common conditions are just hands-down better than gems that activate due to rarer conditions. Similarly, gems with longer activation periods, regardless of their power level, are always better than gems with shorter ones.
Assist gems, which make things simpler for newbies are, unfortunately, nearly worthless. “Shortcut” moves start up slower than their official counterparts, so pros will easily stuff them out with simple normal attacks. Auto-throw escape and auto-guard eat meter too fast to be useful, and they give up a gem slot that pros will be using for power boosts. So these gems don’t actually help newbies at all. They actually just cause them to get crushed faster than they normally would without them. In the end, there is a very limited gem set that you will use, and, given a couple weeks, optimal gem builds will be all over the Internet.
The game’s other modes also feel strangely half-complete. The tutorials are great in that they teach you the basics of the game, and, since there are so many intricate systems in Street Fighter X Tekken, you’ll need them. Unfortunately, they don’t really get into strategy, and so you’ll mostly find yourself lost even after you complete them.
The trials get you used to your character’s move-set and basic combos very quickly, but there is an uneven increase in difficulty at the end. Some trials even have moves and movements missing. You’ll be asked to perform a certain combo, but to make the combo connect you’ll have to insert dashes or other moves that you’ll just have to figure out for yourself. This is incredibly frustrating for someone who isn’t experienced in the game’s combo system
Mission mode is actually closer to Super Smash Bros. than anything else. It has you fulfilling special tasks such as winning a match with only special moves. It’s a nice diversion, but it won’t help you learn the game.
Versus mode is great, but it doesn’t let you quickly equip or remove gems on the character select screen. This makes it nearly impossible to play in a group of friends without going in and out of the menu over and over again.
None of this is to say that the game isn’t fun. To the contrary, it’s actually quite enjoyable. It plays out like a much more aggressive version of Street Fighter IV. The game is extremely combo-centric. Two or three good combos will kill a character, and constant pressure will make it hard for an opponent to tag out. A couple wrong guesses will spell your death, so you always have to be on point. The only real downside to the gameplay system is the heavy reliance on link combos with very strict timing. The timing isn’t anywhere near as strict as it was in Street Fighter IV, but it’s strict enough to create a huge learning gap between newbies and veterans.
What Street Fighter X Tekken really offers is variety. It has modes no other game has included before. It allows you to play cooperatively on a team or competitively. It gives you a staggering roster of 38 characters, 43 with PlayStation exclusives, and 55 when all the (unfortunately on-disc) DLC comes out. It has everything fighting game players have been asking for shy of built-in frame data. It’s a game with lots of great ideas, so it’s understandable that they aren’t totally fleshed out yet.
Overall, Street Fighter X Tekken is a decent value. Its roster is huge, its mechanics are interesting, and it will certainly keep you playing for quite a while. Will it dethrone Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition Version 2012 as the king of fighting games? I’m not entirely sure about that. There will probably be more than enough people put off by the more aggressive gameplay to split the fighting game fan base. Outside of these factors, Street Fighter X Tekken is well worth its price tag. It’s a great game that could have been done better, but wasn’t.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.3 Graphics
The graphics are smooth and crisp. The Tekken characters look great in Street Fighter art style, and the game never slows down, even for a second. 3.8 Control
The game handles well enough, but the arbitrary combo system will frustrate newbies. 2.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Street Fighter IV’s awesome remixes are gone. Instead, generic repetitive techno plays over any stage. At least they gave you a choice between Japanese and English voice actors. 4.0 Play Value
A fun game? Sure. Worth 60 dollars? Definitely. The next evolution in Street Fighter? Maybe not. 3.9 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend|
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid||2.5 – 2.9 = Average||3.5 – 3.9 = Good||4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy|
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor||3.0 – 3.4 = Fair||4.0 – 4.4 = Great||5.0 = The Best|