Street Fighter X Tekken Review
Made2Game Street Fighter X Tekken score: 8/10
Formats: PS3, Xbox 360, PS Vita
Format Reviewed: Xbox 360
Reviewer: James Bowden
“Have you got Street Fighter X Tekken then?” My friend inquired, wide-eyed and giddy.
I replied in my usual suave and sophisticated manner.“Yea, it's really good. It's rather combo heavy but the...”
“How do the Tekken fighters play?” my acquaintance rudely interrupted.
“Well they can still juggle in their usual over the top fashion but their moves are done with Street Fighter quarter circle and charge motions” I inform the eager mind in front of me, but unfortunately my wisdom causes an unexpected sagging of the shoulders and clear exhalation of disdain.
“Oh. I'll wait for Tekken X Street Fighter then” my enemy says.
That encounter is 100% genuine and underlines the biggest quandary that surrounds any time spent in Street Fighter X Tekken's company; just who is this game for?
The previous Capcom fighting crossover made more sense, from a gameplay perspective at least. Capcom vs. SNK was brilliant as SNK's scrappers were a sidestep of Street Fighter II's systems in the first place – unsurprising considering the original creator of Street Fighter, Takashi Nishiyama, left Capcom to join SNK and create most of their fighters - meaning the characters felt exactly right even in each others worlds.
The thing with Tekken is that Namco's iron fist tournament couldn't be any further from the pitched duets of Capcom's Street Fighting. Where one is about distance and careful advance, the other is about close up brawling. When one has you focusing on quick immediate hits, the other lets you partake in some meatbag juggling. Where one is about honour, a quiet protagonist, and features a host of ludicrous side characters the other, well, ok, that last one fits both.
But with that said this cross over isn't a bad idea, the prettiest of hybrid flowers are created from seemingly bizarre and obtuse couplings (would you seriously consider a pink sunflower? Actually gorgeous) but it's just an odd one is all.
So yes, anyway, putting issues of perceived compatibility aside, as they are ultimately null when discussing the released game at hand, how well does Street Fighter X Tekken work?
Do you Kung Fu?
Based on the Street Fighter IV blueprint, Street Fighter X Tekken is a faster, more aggressive, combo heavy twist on Capcom's storied franchise revival. The game employs a two on two system and adopts the Tekken Tag twist that the moment one jaw hits the floor, that player loses the round. This makes each round a tense rally full of clutch tags and elaborate covering advances.
But even with the tag spin this is very much Street Fighter, and if you're familiar with a character in Street Fighter IV then chances are they'll work almost identically here. However the surrounding infrastructure of ultras, super bars and techniques has been completely re-written to give Street Fighter X Tekken its own unique feel.
Gone are Street Fighter IV's revenge attacks and in are Cross Arts, Cross Assaults, Launchers and Pandora, to name but a few of Street Fighter X Tekken's myriad of techniques. Indeed much of Street Fighter X Tekken's potential successes and issues lie in its well of techniques, most of which tie into your super bar. Sorry, Cross Guage. It's a super bar.
There are so many ways to use the super bar. Perhaps you'll save it to unleash big super attacks in usual Street Fighter fashion, or maybe focus on the quick partner swaps and EX moves to mount a terrifying offensive. Or how about nailing the Alpha Counter? Once you nail down exactly how you like using the bar the game becomes a lot easier.
The problem is that the game does such an awful job of explaining everything – it just goes through all your options without taking the time to let anything sink in – that most people will likely see the game as overly complex. This is a genuine shame and a massive oversight considering Street Fighter has previously prided itself in creating complex competitive systems from sleek, thoughtful, but largely minimalistic feature sets.
Another issue comes in the form of Street Fighter x Tekken's dial-a-combo. Attacking a foe with an aggressive scale of light, medium, heavy, heavy sees your fighter connect an instant combo and launch their opponent, with your tag partner running in to pick up the punishment. This is an instantly appealing technique but unfortunately very unsafe – used against a blocking foe this technique can see you on the receiving end of some serious punishment.
Again, it's a harsh learning process. The game gives you this ability and seems to say 'USE THIS!' when in truth, you really don't want to use it unless you're sure it will be safe. It's a technique you will start to use as you grow in confidence, not something to be thrown out at random.
Street Fighter X Tekken is a fighter that will see a serious player dominate a beginner, one that seemingly turns off Tekken players, and one that fails to effectively communicate most of its core systems with any sort of competent ability. But it is a fine fighter, honest, just one that's tricky to unravel.
You see this is a fighter with so much to it that it's impossible to employ every mechanic and every feature in any one match, and in this way it invites players to de-construct its elements and then cherry pick the ones that fit their fighting style. It's a scrapper that's about finding your niche and exploring that, rather than playing to core accepted methods and techniques.
It's like someone saying 'We're going to travel from here to and you can take a bike, penny farthing, unicycle or roller skates. Oh and would you like Ketchup on your bacon buttie or Brown sauce?'. The game offers plenty of different ways to reach the same destination and it's up to you choose which you're best at and most comfortable in using. Not that any option is ever locked off however, it's all rather free flowing and spontaneous, but I'm not much or a show-off so I'll stick to my Penny farthing and if you want to mix and match your efforts that's fine by me. Oh and brown please.
The best example of this is found in the gem system. These little stat boosting jewels activate through the course of a fight and you can choose three to attach to your current scrapper. Should you boost attack? Defence? Speed? And how should they turn on? When you take damage? When you deal damage? Choice, choice, choice, all presented to create the foundations of your fighting style.
This is producer Yoshinori Ono's attempt to eradicate the flowchart and stave off the potential stale-ness that can so often infect a fighter but days after its release. This is important, especially in this age of online competition and endless Youtube bouts, as the concept of how to play a fighter has become bogged down in mimicry and endless combo lists to be repeated ad nauseam.
A player needs to be able to find their groove and develop their own style, and it's going to take a design this brash to accommodate that. Does it succeed? Well, there are still plenty of huge, anger inducing combos in the game (damn wall bounce juggle happy tiger faced Iron Fist fighters) but I guess we'll see in time, the groundwork here is certainly solid as concrete.
And if all this talk of individuality and fighting systems seems scary then I hate to reveal that this might not be the game for you. I will say that, yes, the game's off the wall style is rather infectious and playing arcade mode with any of the game's pre-set teams will see their adventure bookended with ridiculous scenes that can't fail to raise a smirk or two.
Seeing Rufus and Zangief arguing about fat, muscle and mojo is a highlight, as is the clash of personalities between Blade and Yoshimitsu. It's here that the Tekken character's feel most at home, the gorgeous animation blending with their Street Fighting brothers and sisters to create a huge cast of brilliant characters. Unfortunately however there is no story mode, and outside of arcade re0runs and a brief mission mode the solo offering is predictably lacking.
Street Fighter X Tekken is not a bad game. It's actually far from it, in fact this reviewer prefers its blend of combo reactions, tag team scuffles, labyrinthe systems and off the wall humour over its parent titles. What Street Fighter X Tekken is, is a bit of a confused game, one that never clearly communicates its intentions and one perhaps too narrow minded for its own good.
So who is Street Fighter X Tekken for? Simply put, it's a fighter build for the modern fighting player, designed specifically to be dissected and pulled apart by the genre's most ardent fans who crave a system that lets them leave their own mark. The result is something compelling and rather more-ish for the Street Fighter fan - especially those tired of Street Fighter IV - an accessible window into the world of Capcom's brawler for the Tekken fan, but an almost uncrackable curiosity piece for anyone else; unquestionably fun, this is Street Fighter after all, but only as long as the arcade re-runs and friendly counch squabbles last. It's a shame, as with clearer instruction and a more fleshed out single player offering this could have been essential.
Words by James Bowden (Twitter: @Dalagonash)
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