(PlayStation 3)

Street Fighter X Tekken (PlayStation 3)

Game Review

Street Fighter X Tekken Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by James Newton

A cross to bear

Two of the biggest fighting franchises collide — wait, haven't we been here before? Over ten years ago SNK and Capcom crossed over to create a series of fighters that, however entertaining, ultimately failed to become more than the mere sum of their parts. Now Capcom's back in full-on synergy mode with Street Fighter X Tekken, but it's a glancing blow, not a hard K.O.

The real drawback of SFxTK is that it's a slave to two masters: the nuanced back-and-forth of Super Street Fighter IV and the less subtle juggle circus that is Tekken 6. Scaling Tekken's predominantly punchy pugilists to fit in with SF's over the top world of fireballs and teleportation involves bringing them both closer to the middle instead of celebrating their extremities.

The tag system straddles the centre between Tekken Tag Tournament 2 and Marvel vs. Capcom 3: you pick two fighters to tag in and out at will, but if one energy bar is fully depleted you lose the round in a best two out of three format. There're no assists, but you have a number of crossover commands at your disposal to make the most of your partner's abilities.

Chaining a normal attack into a heavier one and finishing with a heavy punch or heavy kick launches your opponent and automatically calls in your team mate, setting up juggles aplenty in SFxTK's biggest Tekken influence. It's here the game shines; ripe with combo potential for the imaginative and manually dexterous, it's dialled down from the aerial raves seen in other crossover games but is no less satisfying. It also forms the backbone of discovering which teams work well together, and by setting a universal launcher (HP + HK) for all characters it levels the playing field — you're just as likely to get a strong juggle with Zangief as you are Jin.

These combos also contribute to the strongest sense of team strategy. An off-screen fighter will recover some health, but you can't juggle your opponent without switching, necessitating some judicious risk vs. reward — go for the spectacular and sacrifice recovery or play it safe and rebuild. It's an intriguing part of the flow of battle, if nothing else.

There are other double-up moves too: Cross Arts are team Super Arts and use three bars of your gauge, and Cross Assaults pull both of your characters on-screen at once for a chaotic homage to Street Fighter Alpha's Dramatic Battle mode, though it rarely achieves what it promises when playing with a CPU colleague; human partners fare better. You can also tag your opponent in mid-combo at the cost of one bar, setting up lengthy combos for the adept, or pull a straight switch for no gauge cost.

The gauge also forms the basis of the EX and Super Art systems, which survive mostly intact from SSFIV with one important difference. Super Arts are now seen as 'fully-charged' versions of special moves, and you can hold punch to charge Ryu's Hadouken into EX Hadouken and finally Shinku Hadouken without using up your meter, or charge more quickly from EX to Super for one bar. The charging delay is perfectly judged to make you weigh up each decision carefully — to risk a Super or go for the safer EX move.

It's full of attacking options but suffers in the defensive game. There's none of SSFIV's Focus moves or Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike's exceptional parry system; your only real option is to press F + HP + HK while blocking to use up one bar for a launcher. Tagging in your teammate like this could save your bacon if you're taking a hammering, but it lacks the finesse of the other titles' defensive systems.

Not that you'll need to defend much in offline play, as the game's too easy even on the hardest difficulty setting: we breezed past the end boss with a Perfect in one round without even playing particularly well.

Should your fighting skills not be quite as polished as ours, you can deploy perhaps SFxTK's most controversial feature: Gems. These add-ons come in two flavours — Boost gems grant you extra strength, speed, defensive power and other bonuses when you fulfil certain conditions in battles, such as blocking five hits, connecting with two special moves and so on. Assist gems are more passive, and step in to help out with blocking and throw escapes when required, though these cost gauge energy.

For all the uproar in the fighting game community about gems, they're more optional than integral; you can comfortably make it through the game without them, and they rarely — if ever — give the CPU an unfair advantage. Perhaps they'd be more important if they were better implemented: you must manually define each fighter's gem sets instead of being able to create general sets and alternate them between characters as you see fit. It's a minor niggle, but one that keeps gems from taking front and centre.

The mismanagement of gems is almost indicative of the game as a whole: there are plenty of good ideas here, and everything works as it should, but there's a spark missing. It doesn't seem as rewarding to learn as SSFIV, where each match teaches you something new about your chosen character; here fighters share so many commonalities you can choose most fighters and win with the exact same button presses and strategy. Akuma still feels like Akuma and Paul is still Paul, but the game itself is less sure of its identity: it shoots for smart yet simple but only achieves the latter. Without the controlled chaos of Capcom's other crossovers or the technical command of SSFIV and Tekken, it lands somewhere in the middle ground.

Conclusion

There's plenty to enjoy in SFxTK: the cast is second-to-none, it's vibrant and never takes itself too seriously, but you almost wish it would. There was an opportunity for a truly great technical fighter in combining Street Fighter and Tekken, but it's denied in favour of a strategy-light, juggle-heavy scrapper that — like Capcom's other cross-company crossover all those years ago — never quite satisfies.

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User Comments (17)

Knux

#1

Knux said:

Ouch, looks like Capcom is losing it's gaming touch. Due to this and the DLC BS Capcom is still pulling off, I think I'll buy this game used (or wait for the Super Turbo Hyper Extended Rip-off Edition).

Great review, James btw.

CanisWolfred

#2

CanisWolfred said:

Sounds...exactly like what I expected and what most people are looking forward to, myself include. Looks like I'll be getting this.

belmont

#3

belmont said:

I may get the Vita version in some point but I would prefer Tekken VS SF from Namco.

Noire

#4

Noire said:

But it has POISON!

... which looks more and more like they'e just trying to draw in dummies like me that just want to play as Poison. >__>

Poison for Street Fighter V! D:

Dak_n_Jaxter

#5

Dak_n_Jaxter said:

I'm not a fighter kind of guy. But really want to get into it. Was going to wait on this for Vita... but seems like it's not that great... What aspects of the game earn it a 7 here, but 9's and A's on other sites... not a critic, just wondering..?

Wesker

#6

Wesker said:

Well done James. That was an excellant review, which really challenged a lot of the common assumptions made about this game that all the other reviews I've seen have breezed over. Next time there is a fighting game released I will be sure to read your review first.

DraculaX

#7

DraculaX said:

Whoa, a 7? Wasn't expecting that, but a great review either way.
By the way, did James just say that Capcom vs SNK didn't satisfy? I've never played the first CvS but the second one was amazing. I thought everything flowed pretty well, the characters felt exactly how they did in (or similar to) their original games, and had six different special meter options, even one that let you parry.

CanisWolfred

#8

CanisWolfred said:

@scribblenaut No, he's talking about X-Men vs. Street Fighter, which is all I really need to know to realize this guy is nowhere in line with my tastes.

@Dak_n_Jaxter Obviously it'd have to be a hardcore game for hardcore-gamers-only for it to get 9 or 10 from this guy. You might actually enjoy it more the way it is, though, since you're not much of a fighting fan.

James

#9

James said:

@Order-Sol I won't make excuses for being a fan of technical fighters. Also, what's with all the "this guy" stuff? You know who I am :3

For me a fighter has to challenge your dexterity and your mental acuity, and SFxTK doesn't do enough to satisfy me. As always, your mileage may vary — and it certainly seems from reading other sites that I am very much in the minority — but my job is to call it how I see it and this is a strong 7/10.

TasukiStaff

#10

Tasuki said:

Nice review. These are two of my favorite fighting game series so I am kinda interested to see some dream match ups. I went ahead and ordered the special edition from Amazon for the Xbox 360 and it should be here any day now.

Any news on when Namco is bringing out Tekken X Streetfighter?

AriesSiren

#12

AriesSiren said:

i am a technical fighter player. i prefer deep fighters like the perfect Virtua Fighter, soul cal 4, dead or alive 4 and the new MK. personally i dont like street fighter. i think it gets away with good reviews not based on evolving, but staying the same. its a nostagia factor. i tried ss4, but realized the move list is still the same from 15 years ago. you can have tons of fighters, but yeah they only have 4 moves each. jump kick, low kick, fireball thats seriously ALL you do. to scale tekken "Down" to fit with street fighter is really saying, hey ss4 isnt deep, so scale down your game so beginners can play it. thats not a good thing. fighters are supposed to be deep and mentally stimulating. thats the whole point. as james says, it supposed to challenge you or theres no reward or sense of accomplishment. ill wait for doa5 and vf5 final showdown. games are supposed to evolve, not scale back. i would have given the review lower score based on there being no defensive game or depth

Gamer83

#13

Gamer83 said:

Nice review, I'd say a 7 is about a right, it's a very fun game but I just think Super SF IV and Mortal Kombat are better brawlers. That said, I do expect to get some distance out of this game over the next few months and I will be getting the Vita version as well if it has some good cross-platform stuff.

James

#14

James said:

@AriesSiren I don't think it's fair to say that SF characters only have four moves — good players get a lot of mileage out of their normals, particularly with overheads for mix-ups etc.

I haven't been back to this game since reviewing it. I might give it another go when the DLC lands (love me some Dudley) but until then it's going to sit on my shelf while I play more VF.

manboy

#15

manboy said:

It sounds like this reviewer did not give the game a chance. I know that this review is just one person's opinion, but to call this game "strategy-light" is blatantly untrue. The new fighting mechanics introduced in this game create nearly limitless combo possibilites. Between the cross arts, cross assault, cross cancel, switch cancel and super charge, Street Fighter x Tekken may actually be heavier on strategy than any other fighting game out there. Mass Effect 3 would probably look like a 7 out of 10 too if all you did was walk in a straight line.

James

#16

James said:

@manboy I can assure you I gave it a fair shake. I just think strategy should be more than combo potential is all :)

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