Street Fighter X Tekken ReviewOmar Elaasar
Whatever your opinion on the matter, it's hard to deny that videogames are an iterative art. Many times a game doesn't seem to nail the mechanics until the sequel is released. This is especially obvious when taking a look at Capcom fighting games. Not only does Capcom tend to revise their craft through multiple versions of the same game, but each new title arguably builds upon the template set over a decade ago with Street Fighter 2, adding more techniques and depth to the mix.
Street Fighter X Tekken is the latest in a long running series of Capcom-style crossover fighting games. Though it follows closely after the success of Marvel vs. Capcom 3, it has more in common with its earlier predecessor, Street Fighter IV.
Capcom has made a solid decision to follow the format of Street Fighter. The hectic, aggressive, and combo-centric gameplay of MvsC3 would be at odds with the heritage of Tekken, and downright inappropriate for a proper crossover game. SFxT effortlessly handles the transition of the Tekken characters from the juggle-centric 3D playing fields of Tekken to the 2D mind games of the Street Fighter series, which alone is a magnificent feat. Unlike MvsC3, SFxT uses the traditional 3 punches, 3 kicks button layout. While this means it can be harder to adjust to on a controller (arcade sticks are generally preferable) it allows more situational variants of special moves that allow a variety of timing. Street Fighter characters handle closely to their SFIV counterparts, with a few tweaks to better suit the faster pace of SFxT. Tekken characters receive situational moves that mimic their 3D counterparts and have a focus on target combo style chains that string multiple moves together for heavy damage. In addition, certain moves will allow you to bounce the opponent off floors and walls for combos, throwing back to Tekken's emphasis on environment and cornering opponents against walls.
The tag system works similarly to the Tekken Tag system. You control a team of two characters, each with their own health bars. However, only one member needs to be knocked out to gain a victory. This gives the game a strong emphasis on defense. The overblown combos of previous Capcom crossovers are gone, with blocking and switching characters frequently being necessity. Chip damage is less of a factor; you can no longer win a match simply by wearing down the opponent with long range attacks. Instead you will have to use techniques such as the new Boost Combos, Cross Cancels, and Launchers. By executing a light, medium, or heavy attack combo you can suspend the enemy in the air for a moment and switch to your other character for a follow up combo. Cross Cancels allow you to switch in the middle of any combo by using up one of three sections of the Cross Gauge. Launchers, executed by pressing both heavy attacks, function similarly to SFIV's Focus Attacks, allowing you to knock careless opponents off their feet and safely switch characters.
Careful use of the Cross Gauge, the equivalent of the super bar in other fighters, will allow you not only to extend and cancel combos by burning up a section, but will allow you to enhance moves with stronger versions as in SFIV. Super Arts, punishing versions of a character's regular techniques, can be performed with 2 of 3 bars full. When the bar is full you can execute either a Cross Art or Cross Assault, the former being a devastating combo that combines both fighter's Super Arts, the latter allowing you to team up with your partner and fight at the same time. It's also worth noting that each character has a regular move that can be charged into a Super Art, allowing punishment of incredibly careless opponents.
Finally, if you find yourself in dire need, you can perform Pandora. Pandora is a move that can only be executed when your point character's health is below 25%. The point character will be sacrificed and your tag partner will appear, sporting extra damaging attacks, and an infinite Cross Gauge. However, this will only last for ten seconds, after that you will automatically lose the match. This can lead to some dramatic comebacks. In one match, I dominated an opponent's character, only to have them pull off Pandora at the last second and whale on me with Super Arts and combos until I lost.
Street Fighter X Tekken definitely has strong mechanics to build on, and will hold a lot of depth for those willing to put the time in and learn them. For those not yet inducted into the world of fighters however, it still provides an incredible challenge. While SFxT has a host of tutorials and trials for the beginner, a lot of the depth and subtitles of the system will be lost to the casual player. To those not willing to spend a lot of time reading up on the different mechanics, play styles and terminology of the game will find themselves lost on how to improve themselves. In addition, the game is short on single player content. While story mode contains official teams that contain their own opening, closing, and between match story events, most of them are typical fighting game fodder: poorly justified and unsatisfying. The mission mode, which resembles a bare bones version of Super Smash Brother's Events, doesn't add enough on that front either.
Multiplayer will be where the value is, with the hectic 4-player free for all Scramble Battle mode in addition to the standard matches and battle lobbies. In addition you can play nearly every mode with a friend, with each of you taking control of a character on the team, a solid addition that builds up some camaraderie with your tag partner. With that said, Street Fighter X Tekken is a game best enjoyed with a friend. If you can find a good group of friends to battle and rise up the ranks with, there's a lot of enjoyment to be had. For those going it alone, or just getting started in the world of fighters it's a bit harder to recommend, though a good game nonetheless.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.
Omar Elaasar is an hobbyist artist, writer, and game developer, and is dedicated to playing obscure games in order to maintain his status as a most pretentious hipster.
About the Author: Omar Elaasar
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