Street Fighter X Tekken review
Fighting game crossovers are nothing new: Marvel comics characters frequently come to blows with the Capcom roster, but it’s rare that two competing franchises ever get together to exchange blows. That’s why we were blown away when Namco announced a partnership with arch rival Capcom to bring us Street Fighter X Tekken. Translating Tekken, a strictly 3D game, to Street Fighter’s 2D universe sounds like a tough task, but with some (excuse the pun) sideways thinking, Capcom has done a great job.
The huge 38 character roster, split evenly between each franchise, means there’s plenty of scope for finding the fighter that works best for you, but it’s not as simple as choosing one. Battles are 2v2, so you’ll need to master a second character if you want to succeed. Unlike other games with a tag mechanic, when either one of your character’s life bars reach zero it’s round over - this makes switching between your fighters at the right time crucial to survivial.
To make it easier to tag in your partner, the new boost combo system lets you string together three attacks into a launcher, which propels your enemy into the air. As your second character comes in, you can continue the combo before they hit the ground. You can also sacrifice super meter charge to perform a Cross Art, a super move which uses both characters, or a Cross Assault which brings both characters into the battle at once.
There’s a barebones story mode, but it doesn’t extend much further than a few opening and ending cut-scenes to bookend the arcade mode battles. Essentially, Pandora’s Box has emerged in Antarctica, and the race is on to be the first ones there to harness its power. It’s basic at best, but also introduces Pandora mode, a last-ditch attempt to turn around a losing battle by sacrificing one of your characters to power up the other. It only lasts around ten seconds, and if you haven’t won when it runs out you automatically forfeit the round, but you get a large damage buff and unlimited super meter. We haven’t spotted many people using it online yet, but it could become an interesting mechanic once people work out how to use it effectively.
Far more easy to grasp is the new Gems system. You can power up each of your characters with three gems, boosting their damage, speed or defence once you meet certain criteria during a bout. There are also assist gems for new players struggling to win online – these perform blocks, escape from throws or simplify input motions automatically at the expense of meter. If this all sounds a little bewildering, there’s a tutorial mode to help you get to grips with each new system, plus a trial mode to help you learn new characters and practice combos.
The majority of your time will be spent in the versus modes, either playing your friends on the same PC or online in ranked battles, which are incredibly smooth on a decent internet connection. As always, fighting games are much easier to play on a gamepad (or arcade stick) than they are on a keyboard, so we would recommend investing in one if you’re serious about coming out on top.
The game looks gorgeous, using a similar art style to the one seen in Street Fighter IV. Characters and environments are rendered in 3D, but combat only takes place on a horizontal plane. Each stage is gorgeously animated, with background characters doing their best to distract you from the action, but the explosive combat is more than exciting enough to keep you focused.