Street Fighter X Tekken, a cross-over fighter bringing together two of the greatest sets of fighters, is the latest challenger in the fighting game genre, hoping to leave a lasting impression by hopefully setting itself aside from the usual brawlers.
The game sometimes feels like a huge Tekken DLC character pack addition to Street Fighter IV, because it uses its game engine and exactly same character models for the SF bunch. However, the lack of Focus Attack and the emphasis on 2 vs 2 tag-team combat techniques sets apart the gameplay from SFIV. However, unlike the Marvel vs Capcom series, only a single fighter in the opposing team needs to be defeated to win a round instead of both. Apart from normal basic moves like punches and kicks, simple multiple hit combos and special moves like Ryu’s Hadoken, which requires a bit of agility with the controller, all other moves use a three-part bar called the Cross Gauge, which fills up when a fighter hits or takes a hit.
Super moves and EX special moves from SF return and the new addition to the move set includes Cross Arts, which is an extremely damaging super move involving both characters one after another; and Cross Assault, where both fighters of a team can be controlled at the same time to beat the opponent to a pulp. There is a suicidal mode called Pandora, which can be activated when a fighter’s health falls below 25%, which gives the fellow team-mate infinite Cross Gauge and a very short do-or-die opportunity to take out the other team or lose the battle when the timer ends. However, getting hold of a fleeing online opponent before the timer runs out can be extremely frustrating.
SFxT also introduces a ‘Gems’ system to further distinguish itself. Gems are power-ups that can be allocated in up to three slots for each fighter. However, there is no general way of setting them for all. These power ups come in mostly two flavours – assist and boost. Assist gems are enabled throughout the match and are a gold mine for noobs to ease their way into the game. An Easy Input gem, which maps special moves to much easier button inputs like forward+punch instead of quarter-circle-forward+punch at the expense of 10% less damage, and one which trades one block of the cross gauge for auto blocking, fall into the assist category. Boost gems provide power-ups, which get enabled at specific times, like getting hit by eight normal moves or connecting with 10 normal moves, and usually strengthen the fighter – 20% increase in damage, 10% increase in speed, etc – for 20 seconds for so. The gems seem like an interesting concept, but not all gems are available for everyone and the sheer notion of buying better gems as DLC feels like cheating.
Although the game doesn’t make it quite clear how the SF and Tekken universes collided, the story just revolves around the fighters trying to solve the mystery of Pandora – a strange cubical object (with energy levels of over 9,000!), which has crash-landed on Earth. The best way of getting to Pandora, it seems, is to form tag teams of two, no more, no less, and battle each other in the various modes the game has to offer.
The Arcade mode features a series of fights resulting in special ending cutscenes for various team combinations like Ryu and Ken. Apart for the Arcade Mode, other modes include Versus where unto 4 players can control different fighters and compete, a standard Training Mode, Missions and Challenges, where Missions involve various set of objectives for each fighter like winning with only special moves, or throwing a 15-hit combo and Challenges involve polishing up on attacks and combos of each fighter. The game also contains a Tutorial mode where Dan goes through the game mechanics, which seems especially great for beginners to the game to come to speed quickly.
The online comes in the form of Network mode, where the players can take the battles online or watch replays of themselves or other players. However, the online feels extremely laggy, the match-making system is not up to the mark, and the sound often fades in and out, making the online experience anything but smooth. It seems not all chinks have been taken out Capcom’s new netcode armour and early adopters of the game are treated as beta players inflicted with arrows to the knee and what not.
The character roster is massive, with the PS3 version having 43 fighters (5 exclusive ones, including Cole McGrath from Infamous series, who is pretty damn good), and 12 more announced as DLC. Each fighter looks great in the SF4 artsy graphics engine. The Tekken guys lack the variety of ranged and anti-air moves most of the SF fighters possess, so most online battles have SF players or at most Kazuya for his tricky closing-in moves. The backgrounds are very well animated and look amazing, especially the one with a dinosaur running behind a fighting arena sliding on ice.
In all, Street Fighter X Tekken provides a decent fighting experience. Had there been no SF4, Tekken 6 and Marvel vs Capcom 3, SFxT would have been a beast of a fighter, but apart from the glitzy factor of having SF and Tekken fighters in the same game, it fails to provide a genre breaking experience even as a tag-team fighter. Perhaps the players new to the fighting genre will feel ecstatic picking this one up, but just about everyone else will not.