Review: Street Fighter X Tekken

It started as a rumor. Then it became a mind-blowing teaser that made an entire crowd erupt with hype. Now, almost 2 years after it’s announcement, we’ve got our hands on Street Fighter X Tekken, a melding of arguably the biggest 2D and 3D fighters of all time. The result? A 2-on-2 tag fighting game rooted in Street Fighter that boasts an impressive amount of Tekken gameplay elements. It’s like your sketchy best friend snuck a Jack Daniels shot in your Coca-Cola, and the buzz is fantastic.

Street Fighter X Tekken is a relatively inviting game for fighting game newbies. The roster is chock full of instantly recognizable faces, such as Street Fighter‘s Ryu and Ken and Tekken’s Kazuya and Heihachi. Meter-draining “quick combos” can be performed with the simple press of a Light Punch and Heavy Kick, or vice versa, and the game’s Gem system allows players to cover up for areas they’re feeling particularly weak in.

Those who played Street Fighter 4 will feel pretty at home with the Street Fighter side of the cast, as all but 3 of the World Warriors are pulled from the 2009 brawler. You’ve got your three punches and three kicks, and the motions for throwing a fireball or dragon punch remain unchanged from the past few decades. Bring a Tekken character into the fray, and you might feel as you’re playing an entirely new game. While the Tekken cast have been “Capcom-ized” just enough to work well in the game, so much of what makes them awesome Tekken characters (long, unpredictable chain combos, grapples, reversal moves) is retained in Street Fighter X Tekken. Some of the Tekken characters’ commands even remind me of how certain characters control in SNK’s King of Fighters series.

Abel and Marduk go at it

While Capcom clearly designed this game to be played online, at parties, and at tournaments, there is just enough single player content to keep you occupied for a few days. Arcade mode works as it does in any game, though it’s worth playing through as every tag team in the game if only to witness the silly banter that occurs in between every fight. SFxT isn’t going to win any awards for it’s writing, but the subtle fan-service and goofy humor is certainly appreciated. As per the modern fighting game standard, there are a series of “trials” that teach you basic combos for each character, as well as a challenging mission mode that encourages players to try different gem setups in order to meet certain criteria.

As with any great fighter, Street Fighter X Tekken truly shines when played with other humans. Top players are already exhibiting how tense and exciting the game can be at a high level, and the variety of multiplayer options make SFxT  a blast when you’ve got a bunch of buddies in the same room. 4 player, 2-on-2 tag battles involve a good deal of team communication, while the Smash-bros esque Scramble mode will lead to tons of yelling, random projectiles, and a heap of WTF moments.

As far as netplay goes, SFxT boasts an improved version of Street Fighter 4‘s online feature set. Replays can be saved, and as a nice touch, can be sorted into 5 customizable categories (ex. comebacks, blowups, etc). You can also skip to certain rounds during a replay if you’re looking for your best wakeup shoryuken of all time. A week after release, online matches run relatively smooth, though there’s a glaring bug during many matches in which sound will cut out and the camera won’t properly zoom in during cinematic launchers. It’s quite disappointing that only Playstation 3 gamers can go online as a team on one console, as games like Mortal Kombat supported online co-op from day one. Here’s to hoping for a patch, though things don’t look great for 360 gamers.

Customization holds a great deal of potential in SFxT and hopefully it develops over time. Color palettes can be altered for the entire cast, though as of this review the only color options outside of the default costumes are black and white. Capcom mentioned free color packs releasing regularly, which they hopefully hold true on. I can’t properly enter a ranked match until my charcoal-skinned Ryu has the PERFECT pink headband. The once-controversial gem system is now a subtle, fun addition to the game, where certain conditions can lead to your character doing more damage or gaining more meter. Players will likely develop super effective gem sets over time, though you won’t be seeing gems at tournaments until the free tournament mode DLC releases sometime soon.

And that brings me to my last point, DLC. Perhaps the biggest disappointment with Street Fighter X Tekken is the knowledge that 12 characters and a heaping of alternate costumes exist on the disc, as made public by some savvy hackers. Sure, with a roster of 38, SFxT is more than worth the price of admission. But it’s quite painful to know that favorites such as Guy, Cody, Bryan Fury, and Jack are sitting on our game discs, waiting for Capcom to let us pay for them (expect more discussion on this topic soon).

DLC woes and occasionally shaky netplay aside, there’s not a whole lot wrong with Street Fighter X Tekken. For those who grew up with both franchises like myself, the game is quite literally a trip through nerd-heaven. Everything from the character cameos in the backgrounds to the post-fight smack talk has been tailored for the most hardcore of fight fans. Most importantly, the game is a ton of fun, maintaining the chess-like mind games of Street Fighter while opening things up for wacky, creative combos a la Marvel vs. Capcom 3. So what are you waiting for? Grab a stick and cross that friggin’ line already!

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