Street Fighter x Tekken new character and Pandora mode preview

Hands-on with Kuma, Poison, Raven, Hugo and the controversial new Pandora Mode

It’s been a while since we put some joystick time in with Street Fighter X Tekken, and since our last preview there’s been new characters and new controversial game mechanics announced. While the build we played didn’t have the new gems system usable yet, we did get to fool around with the new characters and try out the new Pandora system.

For the most part, many of the Capcom characters we played around with mimicked their versions from other games almost exactly. Ibuki, Zangief and Hugo in particular felt almost identical to their SSFIV and 3rd Strike counterparts. It’s been a long time since we’ve played with Rolento, but his baton attacks and wall dive specials are still all there as well. While we're certain that tweaks have been made, if you know how to play these characters from other games, you'll have no problem picking them up here.

The Tekken characters are where the departures begin to make themselves evident, and the game keeps finding ways to translate their unique fighting styles. Because of the 2-D framework, Raven’s usage of his ninjitsu teleport attacks has increased substantially. Like any good ninja, he’s fast, but the teleporting kicks and other attacks give him a lot of mix up potential. Kuma is definitely a power character, with lots of big deliberate moves that do solid damage. His walk speed is pretty slow and his jump is much shallower than other characters’ jumps, so learning to zone with Kuma seems essential. Or just build some meter and cry laughing at his fart super move .

During our matches we found ourselves relying on the Cross Arts attacks because of the huge damage they do. Cross Arts attacks require a completely full meter to execute, but when they connect they do huge damage. One instance had Hugo and Zangief hitting Lili with a Cross Arts attack and it did nearly 75% damage to her. To be fair though, it’s an extreme example because of Lili’s lower than average health and Hugo and Zangief’s big damage output. From what we saw, the moves cannot always be comboed into and leave you completely open to counterattack if you miss or if they’re blocked. Ultimately though, if you can punish successfully, it’s a great use of meter.

Because there are only three total bars of meter, EX moves are something of a waste. The nominal extra hits and damage seemed rarely worth a bar of meter. Even stranger is Pandora mode, activated with full meter and only if one of your characters has less than 25% health. When activated, the current in play character immediately dies and a supercharged version of your other character is tagged in. With red eyes and dark black/purple energy emanating from them, they look evil in that classy Akuma way. 

The price you pay for the super charged character is that their health steadily decreases once activated a la Dark Phoenix from MVC3. And by “steadily decreases” we mean “vanishes almost instantly”. Once Pandora mode is activated you have roughly five seconds of life left before you keel over dead. SFxT isn’t nearly as fast as MVC3, so it’s far too easy for the opposing player to simply back off and wait for you to die. As it exists right now, the mode seems pretty useless without some additional time.

To be fair though, everything should be taken with a grain of salt, as SFxT is still a long way from release. In addition to even more characters, expect a lot of changes and tweaks before launch, most importantly the addition of the hugely controversial Gems system which you can see detailed in the video above. We'll have another preview for you as soon as we see the Gems in action.

Nov 9th, 2011

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