Who would have thought this day would come to pass? Characters from Street Fighter and Tekken, arch-rivals in the fighting genre, star in a cross-over that will blow your socks off! Street Fighter X Tekken (with the ‘X’ pronounced ‘cross’) is essentially a Street Fighter game that contains Tekken characters, so fans of the Tekken graphic and control style will have to wait for Tekken X Street Fighter.
Meanwhile, Street Fighter X Tekken is a feast for technical 2D fighting fans, chock full of innovation and content, and likely to be the best fighting game out this year.
I’ll start with the battle system. At it’s core it is Street Fighter IV, and if you play with a character from that game Street Fighter X Tekken controls almost exactly the same – a whole lot has been layered on top of that though. Firstly, battles are 2 VS 2, with the winner being the first to KO any of the opponent’s team. To tag out you press ‘medium punch’ and ‘medium kick’ at the same time, and if you time this right you can even use it as part of a combo (a so-called ‘Cross Cancel’).
A bunch of other new techniques can be used because of the 2 VS 2 battles. First is the ‘Cross Rush.’ This is a simple combo that everyone can use: Light, Medium, Heavy, Heavy. The last Heavy hit (either punch or kick) will launch the opponent into the air and tag your partner in, who can then continue the combo briefly. As you land hits or take damage your Cross Gauge is filled and once all three bars are full you can perform ‘Cross Arts,’ which are like a double ‘Super Art’ (the ‘Ultra Combo’ in Street Fighter IV), where one partner starts the combo off and the other finishes it. This is easy to trigger, and it’s the same for all characters – ‘Down, Right, Medium Punch+Kick.’
There is also the ‘Cross Assault,’ where both of your characters fight the enemy at the same time, which uses all three bars of the Cross Gauge, too. Again, this is easy to pull off using ‘Down, Left, Medium Punch+Kick.’ Having these abilities common to every pair of fighters makes it much easier to select any set to fight with. A last gasp move you might want to use is the activation of ‘Pandora’ by pressing ‘Down Down Medium Punch+Kick.’ You can only do this when you are down to less than 25% health, and it kills your character, while your other character enters a devil-like state and is incredibly powerful for a short burst of time before dying too, so you have to win the match before they die, giving you a brief chance to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Also of interest in the battle system are ‘Gems.’ Each character can be equipped with gems that either boost their abilities or provide assistance to the player. The ‘Life Force Gem,’ for example, gives the fighter the ability to gradually recover vitality. The ‘Immense Power Gem’ increases attack strength. Gems have to activated by meeting their activation conditions during a battle. Some require you to block a certain number of times to activate, others to connect with a number of special moves.
There are a large number of combinations to try out, and the gems you choose will affect your play style as you get to know them (and allow you to predict an opponent’s play style too). In addition to ‘Boost Gems’ are ‘Assist Gems,’ which simply assist the player and don’t require activation. For example, ‘Easy Input Gem’ simplifies the commands required to do special moves (at the cost of a bit of power), and the ‘Auto Block Gem’ will block for you (at the cost of one Cross Gauge block per block, which means it’s not a silver bullet).
The Battle System is fast, fluid, accessible and incredibly fun and it’s complemented by great presentation and content. Pulling off the flashy Cross Arts, Cross Assault and Cross Rush combos is easy because of the standardisation between characters for these moves but with over 35 characters available there is still a lot of variety to be found. Consider this: You can choose people like Ryu, Sagat or M. Bison, King or Yoshimitsu, Chun Li or Poison, Nina or Xiahyou. The addition of Tekken characters to the line-up is very welcome as they have a very different feel to the Capcom ones.
There is also a well-produced singleplayer portion to the game. For the Arcade component, each pair of characters (Ryu and Ken for example, or Heihachi and Kuma) has their own plot which centres around a strange box called Pandora that has fallen to Earth in Antarctica. For each pair there is an opening cinematic, some dialogue between fights, a Rival Battle (with in-game cinematic), an ending cinematic and a closing text epilogue. This makes it rewarding to play through the arcade mode using each of the 18 pairs.
There is also a great Challenge mode, which contains a tutorial that shows you the fighting basics when you start playing, a Trial mode with 20 trials for each character, and a Mission mode which challenges you to win fights with various conditions set (such as only using special moves, for example). All characters and modes are available from the start, so the amount of content available is a little overwhelming to begin with, but it’s easy to navigate with great menus, so you quickly feel on top of things.
The online modes of Street Fighter X Tekken are also full featured. There are ranked battles which you can play on your own or with a partner in co-op. If you’d rather simply play with a group of online friends there is ‘Endless Battle’ in which players in a lobby fight each other, or there is ‘Scramble Battle,’ which has all four players on screen at once in a crazy team fight. There are also some great replay-viewing modes, where you can watch recent replays, replays of certain characters or ‘Elite Match’ replays of highly ranked players.
Street Fighter X Tekken is surprisingly exciting to play given that it is based off of Street Fighter IV and I’ve played all the variants of that game. Having a whole set of new characters to play as makes a big difference, as does the 2 VS 2 aspect which is incredibly well implemented. I can recommend the game to any fans of Street Fighter. Tekken fans should also find a lot to enjoy here. It’s quite obviously an evolution of the fantastic Street Fighter IV so it’s not going to blow you away with originality, but I’m impressed with what Capcom have done to rejuvenate the battle system and create something great out of such different fighting franchises.
If you want to really enjoy this game get yourself a fight stick, or better yet, get two and fight a friend!