Street Fighter X Tekken is a collision of two fighting game juggernauts that does a great job of bringing the 3D world of Tekken into the 2D space of Street Fighter. The fighting is excellent, but the game manages to shoot itself in the foot multiple times with frustrating design choices. Capcom’s tried and true fighting game formula dominates the 2D space, without going too over the top. Characters from the Tekken franchise have been transformed surprisingly well, with changes to their movesets that allow them to fit into Capcom’s mold. The game is satisfying when playing in person, as the SFxT tag style is engaging and makes for some entertaining matches. However, this comes to a grinding halt with stunted online play and a feeble attempt at implementing character customization obstructed by a slow menu system.
The game does an amazing job of adjusting the Street Fighter 4 engine just enough that it feels like a fresh-but-familiar system. The base mechanics stay consistent but focus attacks have been removed in favor of air juggles and quick combos to switch between characters. There are a number of options to tag between characters, the simplest being a two button press (MP + MK). A feature for new players is a standard combo that is the same across all characters, which will grant you a combo string and an automatic tag. Signs of the Tekken wake up game also make an appearance, as players can now do a forward roll after they have been downed. More importantly, SFxT brings an awesome number of Tekken characters that actually feel like they belong in the game. Their movesets have not been completely transferred over, but regular Tekken fans will notice that signature moves do make an appearance. The Iron Fist fighters feel like they belong, and each is a unique entity, not a rip-off of a Street Fighter character. Most of the inputs have been turned into a Capcom-friendly scheme and Tekken character special moves are executed using quarter circles, followed by a button press. You have to remember that the cast of Tekken do not throw any projectiles (save a few) which makes them a bit more difficult to pick up and play if you are used to your bread and butter Street Fighter characters.
Two worlds collide, then fate gets confused.
When you start a match, you get to select two fighters from the cast of 40 characters. Even though any combination is possible, I still spend the majority of my fights against a Ken/Ryu team. Maybe this will change as people become more comfortable with the Tekken characters, but in the early life cycle of the game there has been an overwhelming amount of Street Fighters. Capcom’s attempt at allowing players to customize their characters with the new “Gem System” is a good idea in theory, however the execution is completely annoying. Each fighter has three gem slots available to equip a combination of gems. Each gem has a “if this happens, you get this” activation, with an example being if you land 10 normal attacks you deal 20% more damage for 15 seconds. The gem effects range from damage output to meter build up, with bigger bonus gems incurring a penalty for using them. Where the issue lies is how the gems are actually implemented. For each character, you must go in and individually equip the gems and the game only fills two of the three gem slots by default. There is no way to have a global set of gems that you can use across all characters, you are stuck navigating painful menus and forever adjusting every single fighter. What makes this more of an issue is that not all gems are available to all players. If someone paid for the special edition and received the extra DLC gem packs, they get gems that effectively make the standard ones obsolete. Capcom stated that this would not be the case on release, but they have clearly misled consumers in favor of making some extra money on retailer-specific DLC.
Mix and match fighters for the battle of your dreams.
The offline modes of Street Fighter X Tekken have the standard spread of every other Capcom fighting game. Arcade mode comes packed with a slew of cut scene endings that are specific to each official team (ie: Ken/Ryu). The training mode makes a comeback, complete with some of the most difficult and non-intuitive trials you will see as well as a practice mode that allows you to perfect your punishers and combos. Locally, up to four players can play at the same time in a 2v2 tag match or an all out 4 player scramble match. When you move to the online portion of the game, things begin to fall apart. As it stands, the net code is riddled with latency issues and devious players are capitalizing on the numerous exploits that exist. SFxT uses GGPO which tries to keep things in sync whenever lag is an issue, but at the best of times it still feels a bit off. It is not game breaking, but it is not perfect and I would hope that Capcom is working on getting this issue smoothed out, since I attribute all of my losses to bad net code. There is however, a huge problem with the sound when you play online. The music will continue to play but all of the sound effects will struggle to get out, and eventually not play at all. This is quite distracting, especially when you expect a hit to make a sound or your character to react in a certain way. Even the voices stutter and the overall sound just falls apart when playing online.
Street Fighter x Tekken brings more than just another roster to play. For the first time, you can play Street Fighter with a friend, online, against others. While this is not traditional co-op, this means that you and a partner can be in the same match and control a respective character against whatever the internet has to offer you. While this may sound like a little added bonus, it is truly a revelation and I found myself trying to get ahold of my regular punching partner every time I want to play online. It offers a whole new dimension to the game and every win is a collaborative work. Virtual high-fives and chest bumps will be had in this mode, bringing a level of excitement to the random online match that hasn’t been felt in a Capcom fighting game before.
Get used to seeing these dues.
Capcom managed to make the Tekken characters feel better than they ever have before and they fit well into the style of SFxT. With the new fighting systems and the huge cast there is much to learn and like any other fighting game you can spend quite a lot of time mastering one character - let alone 40 of them. The modified fighting engine is very fluid and fun to play, but it is really too bad that the online mode is not there to support such a fun fighting game. If you can manage to get a couple friends to come over and play, you can ignore the problems and get the most out of Street Fighter X Tekken.3