Street Fighter X Tekken – Game Analysis & Review
By Patrick Newman
Producer: Yoshinori Ono
Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows
Release Date: March 6, 2012
Though more of a Street Fighter IV spinoff than an evolution of the Tekken franchise, Street Fighter X Tekken combines the appeal of both games to create a fast-paced, fluid fighter in which new combat strategy shakes up Capcom’s time-tested formula just enough to make the entire enterprise feel fresh. Utilizing Super Street Fighter IV’s cartoonish, exaggerated aesthetic, but retaining a slew of close-quarters attacks unique to Tekken, Street Fighter X Tekken is every bit as rich of a title as you would expect from a new numbered installment. With all kinds of great additions to call its own, such as a new Trial mode for each of the game’s 38 characters, the game represents another confident step forward for Capcom.
On top of lightning-fast combat that fans have come to expect from the series, both the new Pandora mode and a Gem system have been added. Pandora is a risky, last-ditch maneuver that gives the gamer using it ten seconds (with one fighter diminished, another empowered, and an unlimited Cross Gauge) to defeat their opponent. Veteran gamers can swat it aside with relative ease. Gems are the far more complex addition to the Capcom stable, as the two types – Boost, which inflate the fighter’s speed, power and defensive properties, and Assist, which gives the fighter automatic defense mechanisms – bring another level of strategy to the proceedings. Gamers were initially wary of Gems (which can be pre-selected in a menu before the match), for fear that they would unbalance matches and give novices the inadvertent upper hand, but now it is clear that they only add to the game’s depth and sense of balance.
The Tekken influence is seen not only in the treatment of those Tekken-specific fighters (Heihachi, Jin and Yoshimitsu among them), who mostly deal in impenetrable combos of kicks and punches, but in the tag system matches, where a fight can be lost as soon as one fighter falls. The controls are merciful to such potentially complicated maneuvers as Boost combos and Super Arts, which often require a mere roll of the stick to come off perfectly. However, while the tweaked game strategy brings a lot of fun to the matches, the load times prior to fights can be substantial, and the frame rate can dip not only at the loading screen but at the character selection screen, making aspects of certain matches a tedious affair.
The 19 Tekken characters help to diversify a Street Fighter stable that has been growing quickly stale. The new “juggling” mechanics prevalent in Tekken Tag Tournament put weight on the intriguing new Pandora system to make or break wins in matches, improving the overall experience. It’s high praise to a modern fighter to say that the offline mode is polished and entertaining enough to contend with the online matchmaking experience, but Street Fighter X Tekken earns that praise in full with its highly entertaining engine.
The online aspects of the game, while in-arguably outshined by contemporary fighter Marvel vs. Capcom 3’s Heroes and Heralds mode, manages to avoid a deal-breaking amount of slowdown while sporting an array of entertaining features. Among these are the Fight Request option, which functions like the single-to-multiplayer-switches that were a dime a dozen during the days of video arcades, and Scramble mode, in which all four fighters take the floor simultaneously. A confusing matchmaking system, in which players cannot request rematches after a Ranked Battle, dampers the proceedings a bit, but as ever, the tight gameplay mechanics put it a nose in front of the competition.
With an offline mode good enough to rival the multiplayer campaigns of most fighting games, Street Fighter X Tekken lives or dies on the appeal of its core gameplay, which I believe has been given a welcome new wrinkle with the addition of the Gem system. The bright, stylized presentation is a plus as always, especially as it pertains to the new Tekken additions to the roster. Both staying true to formula while thwarting expectations enough to keep gamers on their toes, Capcom has only stoked expectations for the upcoming Tekken X Street Fighter with their newest release.
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