Street Fighter x Tekken review

By Ozzie Mejia, Apr 04, 2012 9:00am PDT

Two worlds no one ever thought would collide. I don't mean on a conceptual level; I can grasp the idea of fighters from Capcom's Street Fighter and Namco's Tekken squaring off. From a mechanical perspective, however, nobody would have foreseen a way for 2D and 3D fighting to co-exist. Or, as the case turned out to be, the flattening of Tekken to 2D that will leave many of its fans wanting. Street Fighter x Tekken (SFxT) forms an unlikely tag team, but will satisfy many fans of Capcom's long line of crossover fighters.

Unlike some of those other efforts, Street Fighter x Tekken weaves together a coherent story that logically unites characters from both series. A large, mysterious box called Pandora has fallen into the Antarctic. With Pandora rumored to grant great power, nearly every fighter in the world is making a beeline for the South Pole. All of the characters have recruited a partner for their journey, each with their own motivations-- ranging from good to evil, and comical in between.

Street Fighter fans will be able to jump into the game right away. Not only does Street Fighter x Tekken run on the Street Fighter 4 engine, but many of its controls have been simplified in the name of user-friendliness. Don't expect to see complex motions like the "double fireball" here. Most of the new control mechanics are aimed at helping newer players and adding a new angle for veterans.

On top of adding a new sense of accessibility, many of SFxT's new features and rules play up the team aspect of the game. A round ends as soon as one fighter loses all of his or her health. This is a jarring change at first, and forces old strategies to be reconsidered. There's no use in keeping a partner to the side, because they may never see action if the round ends earlier than expected. More than perhaps any of Capcom's previous crossover titles, this feels like a true team game.

Arcade Mode allows you to pick and choose from any two characters, but selecting certain tandems will play out a unique team-based story. I loved this as an incentive to play with certain duos and I still got the character ending for the fighter I selected. The only drawback to this was that I didn't get the character endings for both fighters. For example, I loved the ending for the Yoshimitsu/Raven tandem and the Yoshimitsu character ending that followed. Unfortunately, getting Raven's character ending meant having to play again and sit through the same team story a second time.

The team atmosphere of SFxT carries over into the actual fighting, as well. I found myself using Cross Rush (a quick four-button combination that would also tag in a partner) many times during the course of the game. Not only is it incredibly simple to use; it's invaluable because of how it juggles your opponent and allows your partner to complete a punishing combo. The double-team Cross Arts finishers were also a blast to use. It's a visual joy to see Juri punish an opponent with a flurry of kicks and then alley-oop the poor sucker to Bison, who finishes with a Knee Press Nightmare. Cross Arts are one of the coolest new features of the game and I found myself experimenting with dozens of fighter combinations to see what their Cross Arts finishers yielded.

Playing up the team aspect of SFxT further is the addition of co-op, an addition that surprised me more than any other. It's the first time I can recall such a feature being included in a Capcom crossover title. I took it out for a spin with a partner and it required a whole new strategy. Rather than go in with my lone wolf sensibilities, I had to communicate with my partner to set up combos. I had to know when to tag out. I also had to know when to use Cross Assault, a special move that allows both fighters to fight their opponent simultaneously. Cross Assault is far more useful in a co-op environment, since attempting to control two fighters at once in a single-player setting gets messy.

Co-op is a fantastic new addition to crossover fighters and will appeal greatly to fighters of all skill levels. It's a strong complement to traditional versus multiplayer. While local multiplayer in SFxT proved to be enjoyable, as has often been the case in Capcom fighters, I did have some trouble with online play. Several instances of audio lag were present during online sessions, which proved to be an annoyance. It's an issue I hope to see resolved in the near future.

There's another new addition to SFxT; one I feel is a bit of a mixed bag. The Gem system mixes things up by assigning attribute boosts to fighters after completing certain criteria. For example, if I use an Immense Power gem, I'll get a 20-second damage boost after having my attack blocked four times. It offers more depth than I've come to expect from a fighting game; however, there are so many gems to play with that figuring out which ones will suit your fighters best can get slightly frustrating. Worse yet is the customization interface. To assign gems, I had to go into a separate menu and assign gems to every single individual fighter. It became a long, tedious process and I can't imagine spending a chunk of time on sorting through over 50 gems to assign to 38 different characters.

As much as I liked SFxT, I confess that it felt great as a Street Fighter title more than a crossover game. The new features all seem geared towards Capcom's fanbase. Capcom makes a valiant attempt to compromise with Tekken's style by including many of their fighters' old moves. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, this feels less like "Street Fighter crossing over with Tekken" and more like a Street Fighter game featuring Tekken fighters. A Street Fighter veteran will easily be able to excel at this game. I don't feel like I can say the same thing for a Tekken vet. I might even advise fans of the latter to wait for Namco's upcoming Tekken x Street Fighter, a game that will likely adhere more to their play style.

Even if it doesn't charm fans of all stripes, Street Fighter x Tekken is a fantastic fighter in its own right. After a few missteps in this genre, Capcom has come back with a game that's robust in both roster and content. If you can get past some interface issues, you'll be left with one of the best tag team fighters in recent memory.

[This Street Fighter X Tekken review is based on a copy of the game provided by the publisher.]

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