Street Fighter x Tekken review
Going into Street Fighter x Tekken, I was a little skeptical. You see, I haven’t been a big fan of any of the Tekken games since Tekken 3 for the PlayStation. I was unsure how well the premise would really work and if the Tekken fighter’s transition to a two dimensional plane would play out well, or if the characters would just feel very gimmicky and underpowered compared to the cast of projectile throwing Street Fighter characters. By and large, my fears were for naught. The cast meshes very well together; to the point of wondering if they were designed to all along.
The game’s art design takes very well from both franchises, mixing the almost water color feel of Street Fighter IV with damage effects from the Tekken franchise. The same can be said of the music in game, though a few stages could get a little grating after a while (I’m looking at you, Pit Stop stage).Voice acting is about what you’d expect from a Capcom fighter, ranging from good (Ryu, Hwoarang) to horrible (Poison, Rolento).
As for the game’s plot… well, let’s just say this is a typical Capcom fighter from a plot perspective and leave it at that – there have been examples of how to do plot right in a Fighting game, specifically last year’s Mortal Kombat. The story mode in this game just flows as a typical arcade fighter would, with a series of fights leading up to a final boss battle, followed by a static end picture with some narration. In an age of brilliant storytelling by other games, you would assume Capcom would get the picture and create something worthwhile storywise, especially considering the wealth of lore concerning the two franchises being crossed over. In short, it feels like fanfiction. Poorly written fanficiton at that.
That’s not to say the game is bad by any stretch of the word – let’s face it, who plays a fighting game for the story? Controls are fluid and the combat system is just as fun as you’d expect in a Capcom fighter, though it’s remarkably more technical than your average crossover title. (eg. You cannot button mash and have things happen. I'm looking at you MvC3). The game’s Gem system (think of these almost as MMO trinkets that your character can activate by meeting certain criteria, such as landing a 4 hit combo, or blocking 4 times, depending on gem) provides a good way for a player to really adapt characters to their own fighting style.
Speaking of customization, the game allows you to repaint any character’s skin, staying true to the game’s mission of being able to play in whatever style you want. So, if you’ve always hated the way Balrog looks, or just want to change the color of Rolento’s cane, you can.
A topic that is a sore subject for many in crossover games is that of the comeback mechanic. Almost every modern crossover fighting game has it – Marvel vs Capcom 3 had X-Factor which got stronger the fewer characters you had left, which could easily turn the tide. This game, however, has struck a true balance between risk and reward with the Pandora mode – sacrificing one character who is about to die to give your teammate a power boost, after which the match ends if they cannot end it, is a good way to balance these moments out, and can create some tense situations. My only gripe is that these can be easily waited out or jumped away from, so for characters that have trouble closing distance, it can be rather disadvantegous to use Pandora. Knowing which characters can or cannot use this to their advantage is key.
Cross arts, this game’s team super moves, are flashy and as you’d expect, extremely damaging. They’re also a good way to switch out a character with low health if your opponent is rushing in for a kill. Not only do they take a massive amount of damage, but you get out of a dangerous situation. The other team mechanic, Cross Assault, summons your teammate to do battle with you while you continue your assault. This can lead to interesting mix up situations, and a rather harsh beat down for your opponent. All of these systems can get confusing at first, but after a few matches I was playing with style, showing that Capcom nailed the learning curve quite well.
Rounding out the game's feature set is Scramble Mode - if you had to imagine this, it's four players on screen all at once duking it out. Sounds quite alot like Super Smash Bros, doesn't it? It's not quite that polished, but it's a fun diversion. You can also play 4 players at once in a tag team battle, adding an interesting layer of strategy. It all adds up to a great multiplayer experience. Unfortunately, we did not get the chance to test online, and will be posting another small feature on it after the game releases.
The only other caveat that I’m noticing – and this is only because I’m a fan of high level play, is how long it takes to select gems if you have a custom set, going to a friend’s console or at a tournament. It’s a minor gripe, but will surely add to downtime between matches if you are constantly switching characters.
To wrap-up, Capcom has hit the ball out of the park with this one – Street Fighter x Tekken will cause many hype worthy moments in your living room or at tournaments across the country for years to come. I just wonder when we’ll be seeing Super Street Fighter x Tekken. In closing, I’d like to leave you with this epic combo demonstration by Desk, showcasing the potential this game has.
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]