Street Fighter x Tekken
Street Fighter and Tekken have long been the ying and yang of the fighting genre – on the one side stand Ryu and co, brandishing easily accessible move-sets, two-dimensional combat and a focus on timing and fluid combos; on the other the leopard-headed King with complex and demanding inputs paying off with visually stunning three dimensional fisticuffs. They are family trees that sprouted from the same seed but that ultimately grew in radically different directions, a fact that no doubt proved a challenge when broaching the possibility of combining the two universes; how were Capcom (who take development reins this time around; Namco Bandai are to deliver their own take with Tekken x Street Fighter at a yet-to-be-announced future date) to capture the essence of both without losing what made them individually so appealing in the first place?
Capcom’s answer has been to make concessions to both camps in order to occupy a middle-ground between the two series that will be welcoming for fans of either persuasion. This is obviously a dangerous tactic that could have resulted in a horribly watered down experience – a game with a broad level of accessibility that forgoes the usual laser-point focus for which the two series are known. Thankfully this isn’t the case, as Capcom have done an excellent job of cherry picking which elements to keep and which to jettison.
With that being said, there’s no denying that it is the Street Fighter series that lies at the game’s core. Played on a two-dimensional plain, special moves are largely activated using Capcom’s now iconic-inputs (the Hadouken roll, the Shoryuken zig-zag), and the staple power-gauges nestle along the bottom of the screen, making for an extremely comfortable transition for Street Fighter fans and a potentially more of wrenching one for Tekken fanatics. The more you delve into the combat however, the more you realise that this is a game for both groups. All characters are able to unleash fast-paced combos with Tekken-esque rapid button taps, and Tekken characters can access unique attacks through inputs exactly mirroring their origin series. The move-sets of Street Fighter characters have also been tweaked to an extent that forces veterans to re-align their art but without losing general feel of the previous games in the series.
This is in many ways Street Fighter x Tekken’s biggest success; each and every characters feels authentically replicated from their previous appearances – unlike Capcom Vs Marvel (which felt like a very different game), playing as Ryu and Ken here feels like the real deal, albeit with a slight spin. The same also rings true of the Tekken characters, even if the long-strings of inputs have been replaced with Street Fighter-esque executables. King is still the burly wrestler he always was, Hwoarang is still a kicking-machine and Kazuya is still Tekken’s accessible all-rounder. Purists will no doubt have complaints – but it’s hard to deny the sterling job Capcom of done in honouring both series.
The roster of characters included is also impressive, with 38 core fighters (plus an additional five if you’re playing on PS3) split into two equal camps and there is plenty of content here to keep you engaged. There is also incentive to play through the single player multiple times with each character having their own ending and completing the game with certain pairings treats you with fully CGI endings videos, each of which fleshes the game’s overall narrative. Telling stories has always been something fighting games of this ilk have struggled with, but Street Fighter X Tekken possibly pulls this aspect off more satisfyingly than any game before it.
Street Fighter X Tekken’s combat structure is also pretty interesting. Each and every bout is a clash between two pairs of fighters between which players can switch on a whim. Though hardly a new idea, here it gels well with the overarching mash-up concept while bringing an additional thrill to the meeting of the two such big titles – this isn’t just Street Fighter Vs Tekken, it’s also Street Fighter alongside Tekken making for a dizzying number of team-up permutations. The ease with which you can flit between characters also allows for a range of tactical and combo possibilities, with one character breaking off mid-flow for his partner to dash in and finish the sequence off. It all makes for impressively fluid – not to mention chaotic – bouts, and adds further depth to an already deep fighting engine.
Also new to both series’ is ‘Pandora Mode’. Should you be on your last legs and facing defeat, a couple of button taps activates a last-ditch attempt to claim victory, sacrificing your current character who will burn out after a period of heightened strength. It’s a clever addition that, when used correctly, can magnify the age old fighting thrill of ‘The Comeback’.
Visually the game looks just as you would expect; it’s bright and colourful and the characters are full of vim and wonderfully animated. Though Street Fighter IV had a slightly more arresting set of stages, none here are bland and some impress through their sheer lunacy. Fancy having a fight on giant hovercraft while being pursued by wooly mammoths? Oh, go on then.
Where Street Fighter x Tekken begins to falter is when you take things online; though a corrective patch is promised we found the PS3 version of the game to be nigh on unplayable over the PlayStation Network. Not only were games stuttery and rife with lag, sound effects also frequently cut-out, making for a pretty woeful experience. This is a real shame, as it is in the online arena that modern day fighters really shine. Street Fighter x Tekken also throws some interesting modes into the mix, most notably ‘Scramble Mode’, in which all four fighters compete at once. Although the networking problems made this mode nigh on unplayable for us, the potential for some mighty entertaining gameplay is clear to see.
Street Fighter x Tekken was a gamble for both Capcom and Namco Bandai. Had Capcom got the mixture wrong, it would have not only sullied its own credentials but that of (arguably) the two greatest fighting franchises of all time. This isn’t the case. Capcom has delivered on the potential of the cross-over template admirably and created a game that’s hugely engaging, always entertaining and feels like an easily justifiable extension to both Street Fighter and Tekken brands. It is disappointing that the online element isn’t yet up to scratch, but when this issue is resolved Street Fighter x Tekken should have no problems standing on its own two feet.
This review is based a PS3 version of Street Fighter x Tekken supplied by Capcom UK.
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