Back when I was a child, the two main beat ‘em ups I played to death were Street Fighter 2 on the SNES and Tekken 1 and 2 on the PS1. The idea that these two behemoths from the fighting game world would one day come together hadn’t entered my mind. Lucky really as I reckon my head would have exploded.
Of course, Capcom know how to deal with crossover titles. The Marvel vs. Capcom and Capcom vs. SNK series ably demonstrate that. In terms of crossovers, Street Fighter X Tekken also just happens to be the best one I’ve played in years. At its most basic, it’s an extremely solid and competent fighting game, yet it also offers plenty of depth for the hardcore player.
Realising its potential to appeal to newcomers and experienced hands, the moment you start Street Fighter X Tekken, you’re thrown into a tutorial. It’s a pretty extensive tutorial section too, offering advice on how to perform basic moves to completing special moves, Cross Arts and appreciating some of the more subtle nuances of the title such as the Pandora and Gems system. Throughout, Dan puts players through the paces in his only role in the game. It’s a humorous turn by the character that breaks up the potential monotony of practising the moves. There is a slight risk of the player being overwhelmed by the explanations of some sequences however. A lot of Street Fighter X Tekken specific words are thrown out there at the kind of speed that befits the nature of the combat.
In the full game itself, over 40 playable characters are available once free (and exclusive to PS3) DLC is included in the form of inFamous’s Cole MacGrath, Sony mascots Toro and Kuro, Mega Man as well as Namco beloved Pac-Man. Most of the main Street Fighter crowd are the usual bunch, such as Ryu, Ken, Chun Li, Zangief and Guile. Tekken’s selection is equally familiar with the likes of Heihachi, Kuma, Law and Yoshimitsu amongst many others. The only real big names missing are the likes of Blanka and Jack, promised to us in a later DLC pack.
Gameplay will be immediately familiar to those used to Street Fighter IV and its spin offs, with a similar engine powering proceedings. Combat is faster and more arcade-esque in nature than those titles however, which suits the tag team style of this game.
Unlike other two-on-two battles (I’m looking at you Marvel vs. Capcom series), it’s game over for the player if just one of their two character’s HP is reduced to zero. There’s no auto tag-in functionality so it’s down to the player to keep a close eye on the health of their team.
There’s a lot to take in when it comes to beating your opponent. It’s not just a matter of button bashing (at least not on the more challenging difficulties or against a human opponent) with plenty of strategies and combos to learn. This is a game that rewards practice and determination but fortunately doesn’t require it quite as much as some others within the genre. Certain moves previously seen in Street Fighter III and IV are there such as EX moves and Super Arts. Most intriguing of all is the Pandora mode which can save many a player from doom. Pandora can only be used when one character has less than 25% health. Through the system, the other character is then buffed with extra strength and unlimited cross gauge, for combo potential. It can truly turn a game around but it’s also a last resort as if that character falls, it’s game over. Pandora is just another layer of strategy to keep players keen in their efforts to become the best.
More controversially is the addition of Gems. These can be equipped to boost the player’s skills and could have quite easily been overpowered. Instead, they offer just enough to make things interesting but not excessive. Coming in two forms, Boost Gems increase attack, defence or speed, while Assist allow for bonuses such as Auto-Block, Auto-Throw and Auto-Cancel. There are a lot of options to take in but it’s worth taking the time to hone the best combination.
Besides the Single Player campaign, plenty of challenges reside in the Mission Mode. There’s also the typical Versus mode and, more interestingly, Scramble mode that allows four players to fight together.
Then there’s online, where many players will be spending the bulk of their time. Seemingly as is often the case with Capcom fighters of late, it’s not quite finished. Ranked, Endless, Scramble and even multiplayer based training room features are all there plus a Lobby system that actually works. What isn’t there is smooth gaming. At times, all is fine. There’s a system in there that sets out to cure all ills, rolling players back to their last synced position if there’s a problem. It doesn’t work quite as smoothly as it should though, not helped by audio frequently being out of sync. Given Capcom’s past record though, I would expect this to be rectified at some point and in its current form, it’s not a total dealbreaker.
So we have an ideal amalgamation of two huge franchises. Tekken and Street Fighter fans alike will enjoy what’s here and that layer of familiarity amongst the detailed and compelling gameplay. It’s suitably enjoyable stuff, regardless of if playing offline or online, and is just in need of a few tweaks to make it a true master of the genre.
MLG Rating: 8/10 Platform: Xbox 360/ PS3 Release Date: 09/03/2012
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a review of Street Fighter X Tekken by freelancer Jennifer Allen. The title was reviewed over the course of one week on an Xbox 360. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.