Cross-overs in fighting games aren’t a new concept, with Capcom usually making up one part. Marvel is perhaps the most famous delegate, but we’ve also seen Tatsunoko on the Wii and an unlikely alliance between DC Comics and Mortal Kombat. Some might think that Street Fighter X Tekken is the first time two fighters have come together, but alas SNK did get there first around a decade ago. But this is indeed a very different beast given that they’re both drastically different fighting games. Can these two get along, or is this relationship doomed from the start?
Street Fighter IV’s artistic elegance was achieved by exaggerating the muscle lines and having that brush mark style that were virtually unseen at the time. In a way, Street Fighter X Tekken has the same makeup, but uses it in a very different way by toning down the brush strokes and pumping up the muscle. The result makes the Tekken characters look more macho than ever before, while making the Street Fighter roster slightly more realistic. It’s an odd combination, but it works wonderfully. Music generally has lots of electric guitars with fragments of techno to provide a solid performance, but the highlight on a presentational point are the backgrounds for the stages. A fair number of them could have some form of narrative within them, such as the Mad Gear Hideout where the Final Fight gang party until the mayor shows up to chase them around the stage. Other highlights include a Mecha-Zangief getting locked out of an inter-planetary lift and a giant mammoth chasing after hovercraft. Expect also cameos from various forgotten Street Fighter and Tekken characters.
Cross-overs have always been a difficult concept as translating an established character that isn’t your own to your system is tricky business. Capcom have had plenty of experience with it in the past; but when the other side is so drastically different, it is easy to lose sight of the original concepts. The roster is hefty with most of the usual suspects making an appearance – despite some being held back for DLC. Street Fighter characters act pretty much as they should do, with new addition Poison providing her own unique take on the flashy moves of the franchise. It is when you look at the Tekken side that things really become interesting. Elements of the moves you know are within, but there is definite influence from Capcom fighters in there too as some fire projectiles that they never could under the hands of Namco. To equipoise this, both sides utilise combo heavy physical attacks that in turn make Street Fighter X Tekken a hasty fighter that is brutal and ever-changing.
It wouldn’t be a Capcom fighter if there were no super special move bars or techniques to use. Fights have more in common with Tekken Tag Tournament in terms of the rules, but that is only part of the story. Since this is a game where you fight with two characters, you can switch either by pressing the appropriate buttons, by launching the opponent into the air, or smacking them into submission with the easy to use Cross Rush combos. Switched out players heal when resting, which is essential to keeping you from losing the match as only one person needs to be defeated in each round.
Each hit fills part of a bar which can be used for many techniques to sway the battle. EX moves hurt the foe for more damage, while Quick Combos can be pre-set before battle and cause on the fly pain. Cross Arts allows you to switch your characters and beating the snot out of foes, while Cross Assault allows you to gang up on one opponent with your entire team. The only dark horse of the bunch is Pandora, as it comes with so many conditions. It can only be activated when the active fighter is on less than 25% health and gives the other fighter immense power by sacrificing the active one. The huge downside is that you only have a small time window to finish the fight or you automatically lose the round, meaning opponents can easily waste your time until you perish. But one bad apple doesn’t ruin the entire game, as the rest do a more than accomplished job to provide a fun fighting game experience.
Generally speaking, you are free to choose whichever team you want in arcade mode, but each character has their own designated companion to fight alongside with. Selecting the proper lineup will activate that story arc which tells you pretty much how those two decided to team up and why they want Pandora’s box. Culminating in a tussle between either Akuma or Ogre, the arcade mode is an enjoyable romp while it lasts. The rest of the modes come with the usual suspects, including Versus and Training modes, as well as character focused trials, challenging missions and tutorials. While more complete than most Capcom fighters of recent times, there still isn’t enough to keep the single player crowd here for too long. As you progress, you can unlock titles in order to personalise your profile. Further customisation can be done by choosing your Quick Combos and the colour skins of your characters; though the latter is of limited capacity at the time of review, making the feature rather redundant.
Online at this moment of time is certainly not my cup of tea. For starters, there seems to be some latency in the sound effects, making a jarring experience at best. While it rarely lags where it matters most, the blocking input is critical to success and sometimes that doesn’t happen. The array of modes for online is a little more intuitive than we’ve seen from other Capcom fighters of late. You can team up with another player to fight as a duo, or go it alone by picking two characters. You can even have the ability to fight alongside a friend or the AI in manic 2v2 scramble matches is the main sight to behold.
“Whatever your thoughts were upon first hearing about this union, Street Fighter X Tekken is a surprisingly robust fighting game that screams charisma and is an absolute joy to play.”
The main issue with the online play comes from perhaps the most controversial of inclusions: Gems. Everyone gets a stock amount of gems to use for their characters from the outset that improve certain stats in a fight when activated, or enable for easier input of the more complex moves in the game. In a single player context, this is perfectly fine and really helps with some of the missions. In an online multiplayer context however, this becomes a broken idea. If you pre-ordered the game, you have a distinct advantage, but it is the idea of selling gem packs via the online store is perhaps the most alarming thought. It would reward gamers who sink money into the game’s bonus content, while hindering the progress of those who don’t. While it is one thing having custom colour schemes and costumes being sold in a store, game changing equipment is a different matter entirely!
Whatever your thoughts were upon first hearing about this union, Street Fighter X Tekken is a surprisingly robust fighting game that screams charisma and is an absolute joy to play. The Tekken fighters feel right at home among the Street Fighter crowd, and the action is about as insane as one could hope. Where the package comes falling apart is when you consider the still somewhat limited single player experience and the severely tinkered online experience. The modes on offer are somewhat enjoyable, but I can’t shake the feeling that the game is somewhat incomplete. When you consider the game is being sold at full retail price, it is a bitter pill to swallow. If you are undeterred by the amount of DLC that will be offered though, what you will find is arguably one of the best fighting games you will see this year.