Crossing the line into daring new territory
I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a fighting game receive as much mixed reaction before its release as Street Fighter X Tekken did. Why? Because the cross-over promises to bring with it a variety of ideas that threaten to destroy the very fabric of fighting games!
Or, so at least the community worried. The truth is, Street Fighter X Tekken isn’t the gaming world’s very own 2012 apocalypse. Instead, it’s a gutsy new take on the a genre sometimes lacking in guts—and is so in part because of those ideas that fans rebelled against.
Even before all of that, however, I’m still a little shocked that bringing Street Fighter and Tekken together actually worked out as well as it did—at least without diminishing the personality or feel of either. At this point, Capcom knows how to make Street Fighter, but a lot of obvious care has gone into being respectful to the Tekken universe and its followers. As somebody who, for a long time, has had little to no love for that very universe, this was the game that finally made me somewhat care about its characters and their histories. A little blasphemous to the die-hard followers of Namco Bandai’s long-running series? Okay, sure, maybe—but at least I’m now willing to invite you into my home, where you can to try to convince me on the reasons that I should convert over to your faith. That’s a good thing at the end of the day, isn’t it?
Gameplay-wise, Street Fighter X Tekken exists in a sort of world between worlds, having a more evenly-paced and strategic feel like Street Fighter IV, but with the team aspects and embracing of more flashier gameplay elements like Marvel vs. Capcom 3. The result of this is a game that does feel just familiar enough to be easy to understand and get into, while also presenting a different enough experience to not feel like a cheap knock-off of either of those titles. As well, this fresh balance of aspects creates a fighting engine that might serve a wider range of players: Those who find SFIV a bit too dry, yet feel that MvC3 is just too chaotic and quick.
Matches are built upon a 2 vs. 2 tag-team system, which is immensely fun due to how many options have been integrated into that idea. The standard set-up is to have two players pit their teams against one another, but you’re also given the ability to instead play together on the same team. In this situation, teammates can tag themselves in and out at will, giving matching a sort of “tag team wrestling” feel while also requiring that players be smart enough to know exactly when those tags should be happening. Or, to make things even crazier, all four fighters can be in the action at the same time thanks to the Scramble Battle option. Scramble Battle more than likely won’t end up on your regular go-to list—but it’ll be a hell of a lot of fun at parties. What really makes these various gameplay types work so well is that they can be played both online and off; that importance placed on Street Fighter X Tekken’s support for its networking component is something that the teams at Capcom definitely deserve credit for.
So—what about that controversial Gems system? The truth is the truth: Allowing players to modify their characters with up to three stat-altering abilities does change the age-old idea of fighting games being based solely around a player’s skill. And yet, not only did I find them to be a genuinely interesting new concept, but also one that is nowhere near as game-breaking as some feared. It makes Street Fighter X Tekken feel, at times, like “Fighting Game: The RPG”—and I found that legitimately intriguing.
Of course, the true test of Street Fighter X Tekken’s various “radical” proposals—much like the game itself—will come at the hands of the community in the coming months, as players really sink their teeth into Capcom’s latest fighting franchise launch. While I can’t predict to what level fans will truly end up embracing this game and its offerings, I know that Street Fighter X Tekken won me over. It’s different, but sometimes different can be good—especially when the game is surrounded by plenty of other options for those who don’t like to be different.
Also, props to Capcom for saying that there will be one—and only one—disc-based release for the game, with any future updates coming as DLC. Feel confident, fellow fighting game fans—you can buy Street Fighter X Tekken without worry that your copy will be redundant nine months down the road.
Note: As of the writing of this review, Street Fighter X Tekken‘s netcode is having a few issues—such as audio drop-outs at random times during online matches for certain sound effects. These issues have not been considered in the reviewing and rating of the game, as I feel confident in Capcom’s track record when it comes to online multiplayer netcode and getting that experience smoothed out. However, consumers should be aware that there is currently are those bugs that need ironing out with the game’s online play.
SUMMARY: Street Fighter X Tekken is a worthy new fighting game franchise for Capcom, one that brings together two unlikely groups of foes in a game that blends a more traditional style of gameplay with some very interesting—if not slightly controversial—new ideas.
Street Fighter X Tekken is available on Xbox 360, and PS3. Primary version reviewed was on the PlayStation 3.