Platform: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Playstation Vita, PC
Release Date: Out Now (PC releases on May 11,
Vita version releases in Fall 2012)
ESRB: T for Teen
Review based off of Playstation3 version
What was once the feverish reverie of many a fighting game fan, has become a reality as two of the most prominent fighting game franchises in the business have come together to offer something another iteration on the Capcom versus series. Is Street Fighter x Tekken a worthy successor to the Iron Fist and World Warriors? Long story short, the answer is a resounding yes.
The narrative for SF x Tekken centers around a mysterious cube that came down from a meteor shower dubbed "Pandora." This box emits a tremendous power that fills the holder with amazing abilities. However, the item only reacts in the presence of aggression and strong fighting spirits. Thusly, every fighter from both the Street Fighter and Tekken universes are en route to recover this item for varying reasons.
The story itself is not all that fancy or descriptive like fellow 2-D fighter Blazblue, but it provides a good McGuffin that gives enough of a sensical reason as why Kazuya is fighting Ryu. Though to be fair, you don’t play this for the deep one player campaign – it’s all about the fighting, and that is where this game shines.
Its gameplay is best described as a perfect blend of the Tekken and Street Fighter disciplines. Elements of both games carry over very well. The tag system is a basic two-on-two affair that allows for quick tag-ins a la Tekken Tag Tournament, replete with air juggle friendly combos and special tag in-tag out combos. The control schemes work well for both play styles with the six button approach of Street Fighter working solidly with Tekken’s four button layout.
From the Street Fighter side of influences, the visual cues are very reminiscent of Street Fighter 4 mixed with the flair and flash of Marvel vs. Capcom. In addition, the inclusion of super combos, cancels, and ex attacks also makes an appearance and flows perfectly between both cast of characters.
Another prime facet of the fighting system is what is known as the “cross gauge.” This gauge allows you to use not only your super combos, ex moves, and cancel techniques, it also allows you to perform extremely powerful super combos that involve both tag partners that not causes massive damage, but also removes any recoverable health from the targets so they can’t recover it while being on standby. Since the gauge is so integral to fighting effectively the game rewards a more fast and offensive style.
In addition, another facet of the gameplay comes in two of its more controversial additions: Pandora mode and the gem system. Pandora mode works a lot like Marvel vs. Capcom 3’s X-factor, but the stakes for triggering it are far higher. When your fighter is at 25% health, you can sacrifice your tag partner and enter a state called "Pandora mode." In this state, your attack power and speed get a boost and you have unlimited cross gauge. However, you only have about eight to ten seconds before it runs out. And when it runs out before you can take out your foe, your character dies. Overall, the Pandora is generally used as a last-ditch effort to even the field. But if you use it, you better use it right.
The gem system is the other special tool used in the game; gems are essentially different perks or boosts for your character that automatically activate when certain conditions are met during battle (like landing 5 normal attacks or getting hit by two special moves). Each gem is broken down into three categories: power, speed, and defense. Each fighter can equip up to three gems at a time and you’re free to mix and match to playing style or to cover the weaknesses of your fighter.
For example, Zangief is a usually slow character but equipping a speed gem can bypass his sluggish steps and give you a bit more of an even field against the more speedy characters. There are also gems that recover health and help build your cross gauge faster, so it pays to mix and match and experiment which gem line-up best fits you. While it all sounds daunting, each element works together to make the fighting very balanced.
One concern among fans was how close quarter Tekken fighters would fare against their fireball-happy rivals. This was bypassed by giving the Tekken characters some sort of dodging move that allows them to dodge fireballs if timed properly.
Putting all this together makes for a surprisingly deep fighting experience that only gets better when you get online. The online mode is very robust with different modes including viewer channels which let you watch online battles narrowed down by which character you want to see, skill level, a particular user you want to track, or even set up your own channel.
Other modes like a mixed match which allows four separate people to fight together as either two-on-two person tag battles or four-person free for all bouts akin to Guilty Gear Isuka. The experience is pretty solid and fun but the connection gets into odd frame rate issues. Sometimes the game will go into bullet-time midway through a round or the sound will drop off. While it does not happen all the time, it occurs enough to make it a little bothersome.
What I particularly liked was the sheer number of fighters, almost over 40 characters all unlocked from the start. But this also brings us to a little rotten spot on an otherwise solid game.
The recent discovery of 12 extra fighters all ready and waiting on the disc adds a bit of annoyance at Capcom’s DLC practices. While their official explanation as to why they did it makes good logic, it does not make me feel any better. Knowing that Capcom and Tekken favorites like Dudley, Elena, Sakura, Lars, Alissa, and Christie are all there to be played but are being held back to be released as payable DLC down the line leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
But, these red tape issues aside, Street Fighter x Tekken in and of itself is a blast to play and has the potential to be a real hardcore fighting game fans’ go to fighter.
+ HUGE Cast of fighters
+ Genuinely balanced gameplay
+ Fluid meshing to Tekken and Street Fighter
- Online can get lagged
- DLC shenanigans
- Knowing I’ll buy the DLC anyway
Overall Score: 8.5 (out of 10)
Street Fighter x Tekken makes all the right moves in making an awesome fighter. But seriously Capcom, WHY U NO LET ME PLAY AS ELENA YET?
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