Saturday, 18 August 2012

Review: Street fighter X Tekken

Capcom are no strangers to the crossover concept of their IP.  Capcom VS SNK, Marvel VS Capcom, Tatsunoko VS Capcom, X-men VS Capcom and probably more have proven that they know how to handle a collaborative effort with another developer.  Many would have never expected to see Namco's Tekken make the crossover appearance since the two games are played very differently.  Tekken plays in full 3D enviroments and a 2.5D style combat system, while street fighter has always been the traditionalist in how its fighting games play.  Somehow though Capcom have not only made it work, they made it fun to play.

The visual change still keeps the tekken look
Storywise this game is a non-canon mashup of both games major characters competing to reach a mysterious alien box that has fallen from the stars into the south pole.  The box is nicknamed Pandora and is believed to grant great power to any who control it, although how anyone knows this is a mystery really, but its a fighting game so logic isn't necessary here, we just need a reason for people to fight.  Each story is built around a specific tag team of characters, so for instance Ryu and Ken will have unique dialogue before fights, after round text and a full motion video at the end.  Selecting a random combination of characters means you miss out on these little chats between fights and miss the ending video, but its nothing majorly important.

Gameplay is much like that of super street fighter IV arcade edition albeit with some new additions and the tag mechanic.  Obviously the biggest hurdle capcom probably had was accommodating Tekken's four button combat to street fighters six button world.  Fortunately Capcom have not only managed to skillfully incorporate every tekken characters combat moves into the game, but you can still play these characters in much the same way as you do normally on a tekken game.  You can juggle, use all the same combo's and even take advantage of the extra two buttons to perfrom basic heavy kicks and punches to round off your attacks.  Its quite impressive how well Capcom have done this and managed to keep the combat between the two cast of fighters balanced throughout.

action is fast and twitch based at all times
New combat mechanics can be seen in the tag system which feels alot like Tekken tag tournament in style.  You can switch between characters anytime to allow the injured fighter to heal a small amount of lost health.  Switch during combos to continue the punishment while juggling opponents and even use quick combinations which are assigned to the L3 and R3 buttons to launch into a multi-hit attack before tagging out, at the cost of a single EX bar.  The most effective means of tagging is to use the games light, medium, heavy combination of punches or kicks to send your opponent skyward before you automatically tag out, if done correctly you can do this for an entire round without every having your opponent hit the ground.

The EX gauge remains and can be used in a few ways.  Having all three bars allows you to activate either a cross assault which see's you and your partner character attacking at the same time for a few seconds to land massive damage.  Cross arts are a kind of super tag move which see's both characters landing multiple hits before your partner finishes with their super art.  Finally we have Pandora a weak mechanic in my opinion.  Pandora allows you to sacrifice your current fighters health to super charge your partner, but if the timer runs out you lose both characters and the round is over.  The weaknesses outweigh the benefits here and is hardly ever used online or in singleplayer.

The EX gauge has several uses at lower levels.  Two bars allow you to activate your characters super art such as Ryu's Shinku hadouken or perform a more powerful version of a special move adding fire damage or extra hits to Ibuki's neckbreaker for example.  Single bars can be used to activate quick combo's and charged special attacks so every bar has a use tactically.

Classic moves abound
One of the more iffy elements of the design is the gem system.  Gems act as a kind of RPG style stat boost item and come in many flavours and variety.  Some gems boost strength for extra damage while others may make all the moves in change to super easy command inputs at the cost of a small damage reduction.  Other gems allow characters to heal slightly or move quicker, but again I haven't seen these used all that much online and many would agree that the gem system is sometimes overpowered for ranked play.  This is made worse by the fact that more powerful gems can be bought online further widening the gap between players.

Other modes of play include the normal verus and training modes which have numerous options for customisation.  Mission mode returns from Super street fighter to test players skills in fights that require the use of specific moves or combo's to win.  Scramble mode is entirely new and see's all four characters battling on screen at once.  The mode is a great laugh for four friends to play and creates entirely new tag team dynamics.  If they would have allowed players to set it so both characters need to be beaten to win the round it would have been even better.

Online mode is pretty much the same from previous street fighter titles.  The online netcode is fast and rarely lags even when playing against fighters on the other side of the globe.  Replay's can be watched and saved for future review.  You can follow specific players to record their replays and go into non-ranked matches including scramble battles for a more light hearted online scrap.

Graphically the game uses the same anime style visuals from street fighter IV.  The most significant factor of this is the change to the tekken characters which normally look more realistic and less cartoon like.  Here though they keep that tekken visual style but in the street fighter world and its a very commendable crossover.  Every character is expressive and their personailty is captured well with the art style.  Capcom have added a few stages with settings from both series of games along with a couple of original ones for the story, but overall the number of available stages is pretty small, but they are incredibly detailed none the less.  My personal favourite is the mad gear hideout which see's members of the gang dancing and enjoying themselves before Mike Haggar bursts in and chases them off.

The voice acting is generally good although some voices may become a little grating such as Marshall Law and Elena.  Music tracks are remixes of both games classic tracks along with other new pieces made specifially for the game.  Hits are satisfyingly loud and the option to change the voice tracks of every character from english to japanese is a welcome addition.

Oooo thats gotta hurt
My biggest gripe with the game is its DLC strategy.  Capcom have come under fire for this before and the main controversy surrounding this game was the 12 locked out characters which required a whopping £16.00 to unlock or buying the as yet unreleased vita version for £40.00 to get a code to unlock them.  This was made worse by the fact that all of these characters are on the disc, but I have discussed this before and I see both sides of the argument.  My main problem with the DLC is way it forces a pay to win strategy on players.  Gems can drastically alter a match online and if you have paid the money over you can make your characters alot stronger than a player who hasn't bought them.  It may all go down to skill at times, but sometimes just having that 20% damage increase will make all the difference.  All in all this system of gouging players for items and characters really hurts this game in the long run even though it is immense fun to play.

Overall Street fighter X tekken is a solid fighter that builds on street fighters finely tuned combat and adds a few welcome features while expertly accommodating tekkens style of play.  This would be a series I would love to see a sequel to in the vein of Marvel VS Capcom.

SCORE: 8.0/10


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