The wait is over, today Street Fighter x Tekken is here for fighting game fans to sink into, the epic battle uses SF4 style visuals with a complete overhaul to incorporate tag battles, refined gameplay and a gem system to twist up the gameplay. We did a hard crash course in Street Fighter x Tekken to figure out all the changes for the mechanics and how well a Tekken influence worked in this fireball controlled world.
The 6 button fighting style is back, players that got used to the simplified mechanics of UMVC3 will face a bit of shock as the game balance goes heavily into the technical realm. Players will have to balance their own control system that works best for them, unfortunately while the 360 controller works well for so many other things, it struggles with something this deep. If you’ve been on the fence about an arcade stick, now is the time to make that jump into the world if you’re going to make this your full-time game. For those that push onward with the standard controller, expect a lot of thumb wear and tear until you break it in with a lot of matches.
Traditional brawler? Not a problem. Combo / tutorial player? They’ve got you covered too. It doesn’t matter exactly how you plan to play SFxT offline as long as you’re able to land and chain attacks together, the design allows anyone to improve gradually as they experiment and the AI doesn’t overpower right out of the gate.
One of the first shifts in fighting is the speed of the attacks, while some may have felt Street Fighter IV a bit slow or clunky it’s very much not the case here. Jabs and short attacks are quick and unforgiving, anyone with enough practice can tie these attacks into unforgiving chains that change the balance of a fight in a simple moment. One can go from a few shorts and hurricane kick into a team super attack that leaves the opponent either dead or wishing they were. To some extent this gets even worse when bringing in Tekken characters mid-attack as many of them tend to juggle opponents with less effort.
The Gem system is a foundation for Street Fighter x Tekken, the assist gems are always active in the game and allow players to coordinate pairings that help fill the gaps in their style.
- Attack (Red)
- Defense (Yellow)
- Speed (Green)
- Vitality (Orange)
- Cross Gauge (Blue)
There’s also the option of going without them and instead just using Boost Gems, the difference is the assists come with penalties on attack power, speed or other areas to help compensate for the gains allowed per match. Boost gems have limited activity periods and boost up to 30% for 10-30 seconds of activity in a match. Unfortunately the conditions for using them are pretty harsh, going from activating during a block, pulling off special moves or connecting to other attacks. It also goes both ways for those using the gems to boost defense, requiring things such as the opponent using Pandora to activate a level 3 defense.
Capcom was so nice to provide samples of the system in action
- Super easy input – easier attack execution
- Immense power level 1 – 10% damage boost
- Iron wall level 2 – 20% damage reduction
- Onslaught level 1 – 10% cross gauge boost
- Divine speed level 1 – 10% speed increase
- Immense power level 1 – 10% damage increase
The catch of course is trading up your own attacks or having a limited use of the perks like x amount of times you can use Iron Wall. There’s a lot more depth than one would have thought, it’s a matter of balance and sacrifice to get the job done and hoping that your opponent doesn’t play the same tactics as you.
Street fighter x Tekken still gets even deeper, cross rush, juggling, super charge attacks, ex moves, cross canceling, switch cancels, super arts and of course Pandora. Most of those are familiar to some level but Pandora takes attacks to a new level, it’s a 10 second boost of monstrous power when one of your characters falls to 1/4 strength or lower. The sacrifice is giving up that character for the rest of the round when you channel their energy into your partner, it’s a huge assist but it requires extra thought in the event your opponent still has high health gauges and you’re sure you wont need that partner again.
The clash is on for possession of the Pandora, the mythical object holding untold power to the one who controls it, two rival groups set off to capture it for their own desires and a world battle erupts. Unfortunately the story falls relatively dead after that and the closing scene depending on the skill and characters leaves something to be desired. With something this huge it would be great to have a deeper investment after going through the work to develop such a great introduction anyway, unfortunately there are some really odd ending scripts that include even Zangief being turned Metro… They really went an odd route and I’m not sure if very many of these scripted closures will satisfy the fans or just leave them with blank faces for the next month.
We were able to get Street Fighter x Tekken online for a few matches, unfortunately one of the most prominent issues we noticed came from network lag, often the sound and attacks dropped out of the match turning some fights into quite a mess for either side. While we were able to get some normal matches it was a bit difficult to believe these matches could be enjoyable when playing cross-country or trying your luck overseas. In a France / Japan pair-up we really saw how bad the impact could be but of course took into account we were sending signals across the world.
If our early impressions are any indicator of the competition online it would be best to get practicing on your best moves asap if you plan to run online. If you’re out for a casual run you might be hard pressed to get one as many are already knee-deep in running the same power moves over and over as you see in most other fighting games now. We understand there’s a demographic that thrives on this but at one point it becomes a battle of memorization vs tactics and anytime we disrupted their chains they fell apart until they could start it again.
Graphically Street Fighter x Tekken is wonderful, the translation of Tekken figures over to the SF realm is done with care even if Law’s self grooming makes him look like he’s an extra from Sabotage from the Beastie Boys. It’s hard to be disappointed by the overall looks though, also by some details on character selection it appears there will be the option to pick different base outfits entirely if you’re not satisfied with the original offerings from the team, no doubt those will end up as DLC though.
Character customization is a bit of a step back after using the KOF XIII engine, going from total control of outfit design to 4 starting colors is a bit of a sweep back. We’ve heard this should be expanded though and allow for a full color gamut to be available. Just the lack of such items in the initial play hurt the impact of the feature, hopefully colors don’t turn into another marketing aspect of the game or if it does, it’s a one time thing as I have a ton of color choices I’d love to be able to execute.
Street Fighter x Tekken is breath of fresh air to the genre, just as everyone reached the peak of what they could deliver in Street Fighter IV, the big reset hits and everyone starts again. Everyone has their balances in the game, Street Fighter characters have power moves but Tekken characters are able to combine power and longer chains and level the playing field. Gems play a crucial role in helping new players get comfortable with the game and also with power players extending their abilities for the crucial moments. As a raw fighter it’s a solid entry, the features and expected DLC do leave a sour taste though as there are some basics that just don’t make sense to hold out on.
With such a clean mix of fighting and technical abilities it’s a shame the net code is buggy right now, those who pair up with closer matches may find themselves able to avoid the lag but anyone extending a bit too far will notice the glitch moves and sound sync issues when fighting it out with anyone.
Special thanks to Tech2k and Franks for pulling the all nighter with me on this one.