March 05, 2012
25 years on, and Street Fighter is still going strong as the granddaddy of the fighting genre, still pushing things forward with all manner of finishing moves, other intricate mechanics and systems that keep it on top of the game. And now its brought along Tekken for the ride, welcoming a whole bunch of Namco's fighters, adapting their move sets to fit in with the Street Fighter crew. This is Street Fighter's game after all, so the Tekken posse are guests in their world, and naturally that'll be vice-versa when Tekken X Street Fighter eventually sees the light of day.
As a spin-off away from the mainline Street Fighter series, Street Fighter X Tekken is packed to the gills with all sorts of new stuff to learn. So, while ostensibly it may look a lot like Street Fighter IV, the comparisons pretty much begin and end with the visual style and standard moves for each character. Beyond that, it's all change, with the game's narrative MacGuffin, Pandora's Box, providing the massive last gasp gamble Pandora state, while tag battles are the order of the day. There's more where that came from though, with Cross Assault, Cross Rush, Cross Arts, Super Arts, Quick Combos and charged EX Special Moves coming into play, presenting you with a remarkable diversity of tools at your disposal.
More than ever, we'd recommend visiting Dan Hibiki's tutorial before diving straight in, as it provides all of the background you need on Street Fighter X Tekken's numerous specials, finishers and other moves. You'll learn how to time throw cancels, perform Switch Combos that enable you to swap out your character with a Launcher move and have your partner jump onto the screen to continue your chain of strikes, and anything else you might need to know. You'll soon become well acquainted with the game's many finishers, from the simplicity of Cross Rush and Super Arts, which can now be performed by holding down a button to max out a EX Special Move, preserving your Cross Gauge in the process. Then there's the aforementioned Pandora, which gives you the option to sacrifice yourself, giving your partner infinite Cross Gauge and 10 seconds to win the fight. Fail to do so, and you both get KO'd.
It seems like a lot to take in, but thanks to Capcom paring down and simplifying the controls a bit, all of these moves become viable options to pretty much anyone who's even slightly familiar with a Street Fighter game. During the course of a fight, you'll be keeping your eye on your Cross Gauge, remembering how many of its three bars each type of special move will expend. Rack up a full three Cross Gauge bars, and you can launch a Cross Assault, which temporarily brings on your AI or human-controlled partner for an all out barrage, or you can hit your opponent where it hurts with a Cross Arts combo, which performs each character's devastating Super Arts finisher one after the other for double the fun.
Each of these moves can be executed with a simple quarter roll of the D-pad backwards or forwards, hitting the tag buttons (medium punch and medium kick)...and that's it. All of the moves in your arsenal become second nature because their inputs make perfect sense, which goes towards making Street Fighter X Tekken possibly the most enjoyable and indeed, accessible Street Fighter game yet. That's no mean feat either, given the sheer array of new systems Capcom has introduced. Street Fighter X Tekken could have been a complicated mess had it not been handled in just the right way, but it manages to make everything seem intuitive and straightforward.
Even the game's contentious Gems are easy to use, with Boost Gems activated automatically upon performing certain requirements and Assist Gems having passive effects like automatic throw cancelling, auto blocking, easy inputs and other gameplay aids for more casual players. The effects of the Gems are subtle, but creating effective presets of three Gems that can be saved and switched before a fight can give you a slight edge, but Producer, Yoshinori Ono's analogy, that Gems are like equipment for your fighter is right on the money. SFxTK's Gems won't enable you to be a better player or able to beat better players. In essence, you could easily ignore the Gems if you wanted to, but hats off to Capcom for injecting an additional layer of strategy to Street Fighter X Tekken.
There's 38 characters to choose from in Street Fighter X Tekken too, so the potential combinations of characters and Gems is unfathomably deep. And given the number of fighters, you'll easily find a team and Gem set-up that suits your play style. There's a host of combatants new to this generation of SF games to master too. Hugo, Poison and Rolento on the SF side are joined by the entirety of the 19 fighters on the Tekken team, which will keep you experimenting for ages. SFxTK also handles like a dream, feeling every bit as smooth and fluid as Super Street Fighter IV before it, but with improved visuals and animations that add up to make it quite possibly the most enjoyable Street Fighter yet. Capcom has also added new online netcode to this one too, so finding a fight online is a bit easier and more stable than before.
Nonetheless, it's not without its problems. During online battles we experienced sound cutting out, stuttering frame-rates and a bit of lag on more than a few occasions. These could be merely teething problems that will hopefully be patched out sooner rather than later, but in its current state, there's room for refinement to ensure that the online portion of the game is up to scratch with the offline portion of the game, which is packed with various mini-games and distractions beyond the usual story-driven Arcade mode and the Versus mode. There's the Challenge Mode, broken down into Trials and Missions for each character, and the sublime Scramble Battle mode that allows four players to fight simultaneously in an all-out, chaotic melee. Capcom has thought of everything.
Factor in the Ranked Matches, Endless Battle, online Scramble Battles and Replay Channel, and Street Fighter X Tekken is every bit as comprehensive a fighting game as its predecessors. As with every SF achievement list too, there's a range of different achievements attached to all of these online modes and a handful to earn through the multiple aspects of single-player. As ever, there's a lot of grinding involved too, so be prepared to settle in for the long haul as you strive towards playing 500 Xbox Live matches, winning 100 of them, launch 300 of each finisher and attain 100 perfect rounds. Easier said than done... A solid achievement list it may be, but there's far too much grind in here to make it enjoyable.
Capcom has managed to create another fantastic Street Fighter title in Street Fighter X Tekken, successfully integrating a stable of Tekken fighters that might not have worked in less experienced hands. Some characters have been tweaked to fit - like Jin Kazama now having a projectile attack for instance – but most remain true to their original Tekken styles. It's supremely well-balanced, expertly crafted and full to point of bursting with fresh features and moves. Whether you're a Street Fighter fan or a Tekken fan, you won't be disappointed.
It's the usual wailing synth music, shouts of “Hadoken!”, “Tiger!” and so on. Typical Street Fighter stuff then, which is fine by us.
We didn't think that Street Fighter could look any better, but SFxTK is a slight visual upgrade, with multi-tiered dynamic backdrops and all the flashy pyrotechnics, fantastic animations and gorgeous stylised characters that you've come to expect.
There's more to this than just the fighting, with Gems adding a little extra something to experiment with, and the array of new moves expanding your fighting options immensely. Capcom has pulled out all the stops here.
All of the usual modes and game types you'd hope for in a Street Fighter title, with Arcade, Versus and Scramble Battles, joined by Trial and Mission Challenges and an in-depth tutorial and training mode. There's Ranked Matches, Endless Battle, Scramble Battle, Fight Request and the Replay Channel awaiting online too. You can also customise the colours of characters to your liking a little bit.
This is a decent, if derivative list. It's pretty much the same old fare in achievement terms, with too many requiring a serious amount of grinding. A bit disappointing really.
Street Fighter X Tekken is a triumphant marriage between two huge fighting franchises that could have quite easily been a mess. Filled to the brim with new characters and features, you'll be hard-pushed to find a bigger, better, more vibrant and appealing fighting game out there. Hadoken, indeed.