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Street Fighter X Tekken review

Great
AT A GLANCE
  • Large cast of spiffy badasses
  • Frantic blend of SF, MvC & Tekken
  • Absurd new combo possibilities
  • Frequent online lag issues
  • Single-player boring as usual
  • DLC mania, no Xbox 360 extras at launch

Street Fighter X Tekken is the latest game in Capcom’s 21st-century fighter renaissance, and it looks set to continue the winning streak started by Street Fighter IV. Ever since SFxT’s first announcement we’ve had one burning question: How can Capcom integrate Tekken’s cast of 3D brawlers into the gameplay mechanics of a 2D fighting game? Jamming Tekken’s alien 3D concepts into a 2D Street Fighter game seemed akin to sanding off the corners of a square peg for a round hole.

So, how did Capcom fare? Reasonably well. There’s a definite gameplay divide between the two companies’ characters, but that’s not really a bad thing. The Street Fighter characters play similarly to their SF4 counterparts - no surprise there. But in addition to their relative lack of projectiles, the Tekken fighters tend to feature a surplus of short canned attack strings, often a dozen or more. (Those goofy 10-hit strings didn’t make the cut, thankfully.) Oftentimes these strings translate Tekken’s left/right punch/kick inputs directly into Street Fighter’s physically analogous weak and medium punch/kick buttons, but the commands frequently vary from their Tekken originals, so even Tekken pros will have to relearn the ropes, somewhat.

Long story shorter, whereas the Street Fighter characters tend to have smaller, more easily understandable move sets, the Tekken fighters have larger arsenals that often blur the line between special moves and normals. As a result, they’re often tougher to pick up and understand at a glance, particularly for those of us without recent Tekken experience. Figuring out how to combine all of these often similar-looking attacks into a cohesive offense is definitely a learning process that will benefit from practice, shared community knowledge, and FAQs.

Once past the initial hump, SFxT plays like some frenzied midpoint between SF4 and Marvel vs. Capcom. Expect lots of chain combos into launchers, moves that bounce opponents off walls, and improbably long juggles involving multiple character switches. It’s a mistake to play SFxT like SF4, which even the briefest, likely painful online dalliance will quickly make clear. Instead, you’ll need to become extremely comfortable with the tag dynamic, and consider how your character choices impact tag combo possibilities. We definitely experienced an adjustment period - we weren’t able to do particularly well with our long-planned wrasslin’ team of Zangief and Hugo despite knowing how to play them each individually. SFxT is a team game, and wise leverage of tagging is a must.

The character selection offers an excellent cross-section from both Street Fighter and Tekken, weighing in at 38 faces on 360 and 43 on PS3, with forthcoming DLC to add another 12. (That will bring the PS3 version just one shy of 56-character-strong record-holder MvC2, which has held that crown for over a decade). Amusingly (or not) hacker types recently discovered that the 12 future DLC characters are already on the disc. Oh, Capcom.

Before the DLC brouhaha popped up, the single most controversial aspect of SFxT was the new gem system, which lets you equip your characters with stat- or ability-boosting gems that activate under certain circumstances. For example, one gem gives you 20 seconds of +20% extra defense (and -10% attack power) after being hit by three special moves; the effect can only fire once per round. While extra gems are available via preorders and in-game purchases - which is where many people start having a problem with it - the default gems don’t seem to have an untowardly large effect on balance. While forthcoming gem releases may change this, as of now gems just add a little more flavor. We doubt Capcom will do much to upset this careful balance.

SFxT has the usual selection of modes, most right out of SF4. Each character has 20 trials to conquer, ranging from “do this special move” to “perform this intricate series of eight super-tight links you would never consider using in a real match.” If nothing else these’ll give you some ideas on how to play new characters. There’s also the new mission mode, which gives you 20 sadistically hard tasks to accomplish versus max-difficulty CPU opponents. Let’s just say Zangief and his magical AI-confounding lariats will get another workout here.

There’s not much to unlock other than SF4-style player titles; all the default characters are available from the start, hallelujah. This feels strange - past fighters have us conditioned to expect hours of drudgery before we can get down to “real” play. Less strange: the mediocrity of story mode. Capcom’s preordained tag teams enjoy such exciting stories as “Paul and Law are bums” and “Lili and Asuka detest each other,” while randomly matched character teams get a one-size-fits-all non-narrative. Just in case this needs to be said, you shouldn’t buy SFxT for its single-player action.

Luckily, SFxT delivers a strong slate of multiplayer modes, right down to two-player online training - neat. All matches support up to four players, so if you have a friend around they can play as your tag character. Then there’s scramble battle, which throws all four characters into the fray at once, calling to mind Guilty Gear Isuka and the “dramatic battles” of Street Fighter Alpha. Luckily these work out much better than Isuka ever did, and prove a lot of fun when you just want to kick some ass while struggling to keep track of your fighter amid pandemonium.

Unfortunately the online play is marred by lag issues that range from slightly annoying to downright horrifying. Sometimes it works fine, but at others it’s a frustrating slideshow. Sound effects commonly glitch and drop out for long stretches, adding to the unpleasantness. Maybe it’s just the limited selection of opponents available so far, but we’ve had more laggy matches than not. After Street Fighter III: Third Strike Online Edition used the highly regarded GGPO net code we hoped such lag was a thing of the past. We’re sure Capcom has good reasons for not using GGPO here, but we can’t help but wish for a smoother online experience.

Multiplatform games are generally very similar these days, but SFxT is one case where 360 players pretty much lose out. The PS3 version features Cole from Sucker Punch’s Infamous, Japanese Sony mascots Toro and Kuro cosplaying as Ryu and Kazuya, a hilarious Mega Man inspired by Capcom’s horrid ’80s box art, and a similarly tweaked-out take on Pac-Man. (The last two are promised for day-one DLC.) Both versions suffer from bothersome load times (hdd installation helps slightly), but only the PS3 game has these five extra characters at the moment. Toss in PS3’s free online play and you’ve got a pretty good argument for going with the PS3 version. It’s not like the Sony-exclusive characters are super compelling, but hey, why not have them if you've got both platforms?

Whichever version you spring for, you can expect another fast, fun, and technical Capcom fighting experience. The online code seems problematic, but that’s hardly enough to sink what’s otherwise another top-tier Capcom fighter. It’s actually kind of amazing to see a fighter where literally half the cast is basically new. That’s a lot to take in, so you’d best be ready to learn some new strokes if you want to swim in these turbulent crossover seas. 

This game was reviewed with the Xbox 360 version as lead platform. We test drove the PS3 version, the differences of which you can see noted in the text above.

More Info

Release date: Mar 06 2012 - Xbox 360
Oct 25 2012 - PS Vita
Mar 06 2012 - PS3
May 11 2012 - PC (US)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS Vita, PS3, PC
Genre: Fighting
Published by: Capcom
Developed by: Capcom
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Alcohol Reference, Crude Humor, Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence

26 comments

  • 5DollarFootlong - March 5, 2012 12:19 a.m.

    this game looks sick. can't wait until tuesday.
  • taokaka - March 5, 2012 2:07 a.m.

    Must order myself a copy now. A bit disappointed that the twelve extra characters won't be there for launch but that'll just give me a reason to keep playing this for longer once they come out.
  • samsneeze - March 5, 2012 4:54 a.m.

    It's to my understanding that they are there though. They're on just locked away on the disc is all. You're going to have to pay for them later it seems.
  • BigBoss - March 5, 2012 3:47 a.m.

    Good review; I might have to buy it for PlayStation 3 then.
  • 231231jimmy - March 5, 2012 4:07 a.m.

    does it have a story mode ?
  • BladedFalcon - March 5, 2012 5:12 a.m.

    Here, straight from the review: "Less strange: the mediocrity of story mode. Capcom’s preordained tag teams enjoy such exciting stories as “Paul and Law are bums” and “Lili and Asuka detest each other,” while randomly matched character teams get a one-size-fits-all non-narrative. Just in case this needs to be said, you shouldn’t buy SFxT for its single-player action." Reading reviews all the way usually helps...
  • sgloomy - March 5, 2012 4:50 a.m.

    I may be wrong but I heard capcom is going to have a day one patch to fix at least some of the online problems regarding the lag and the sound cut outs
  • mackshizzle - March 5, 2012 5:26 a.m.

    Game looks pretty cool.
  • shawksta - March 5, 2012 6:37 a.m.

    Im buying this game, but not at launch,but i will definitly get the game when i get chance, i only get to go to Gamestop a few times so if not earlier, im definitly getting it Kid Icarus, ill have more money then. I dont care what anyone says, BBA Megaman needs his own game now that Capcom is actually acknowledging him as an iteration for Megaman. Despite the story, as usual being Mediocre, you cant help but love some dialog, Abel:"Im sorry its just..........a Bear! I just want to pet it, you know?" Either way Megaman and pacman's intro/ending were found in the 360 version through hacking, PS3/PSvita is getting them for free but 360's gonna have to pay ugh. Damn it Microsoft, this is what you put us through when you reject Capcom's offer for your characters to be in the game, you guys never agree to anything, only Rare allowing Banjo in Sonic and Sega racing.
  • zigil - March 5, 2012 10:06 a.m.

    game looks great, but I think I'll rather wait till the price drops or they announce a remake of the game. On the other hand, great review :)
  • Bring_Back_Michael_Grimm - March 5, 2012 10:38 a.m.

    I can live without Cole MacGrath and the 2 Sony mascots, but the fact that the Xbox is missing all 5 bonus characters means that I no longer have any desire to pick this up at launch. It might sound petty but I think 360 owners should follow suit and vote against their shabby treatment by way of their wallets. Though I hope PS3 owners enjoy what looks to be a very fun game.
  • shawksta - March 5, 2012 10:51 a.m.

    Technically only 2 bonus characters and you can blame Microsoft not capcom as they wanted 360 to have exclusives with charavters like chief and Marcus but Microsoft rejected the offer. Mega and PAC are coming by DLC anyway along with the 12 new characters since this will be the only disk version of the game.
  • Anderstmnt - March 5, 2012 11 a.m.

    I'm not a Big Fighter player, but I only wanted this game because of Cole McGrath. Sounds awesome that the PS3 version gets the treatment it deserves with the 5 Additional Characters.
  • Derintrel - March 5, 2012 2:47 p.m.

    Now, I'm primarily a PS3 player too. Hey, we even both have Drake pictures. But why do you think the PS3 version deserves all this special treatment? I feel bad for the Xbox guys. First Mortal Kombat and now this.
  • talleyXIV - March 5, 2012 5:02 p.m.

    Fighting games are more focused on the PS3, and I think it is fair. Huge companies like Activision do ridiculous things like releasing Call of Duty DLC one month early for Xbox. For a game that is so ridiculously popular, it seems like they could not worry about the money and just make the fans happy by releasing the DLC at the same time. Instead they make enemies. In the case of this, I think it is to spice it up a bit, I think it would be more fair if Xbox got some extras as well. Instead of Cole McGrath or Kratos, they should throw in Master Chief or Marcus Phoenix, give a bonus to both consoles. Maybe I am too nice to be a game developer.
  • sgloomy - March 5, 2012 5:10 p.m.

    They were actually planning on having someone from an xbox franchise to be a guest character, but there were licensing agreement/issues and it all didn't happen in time so they didn't do it. as far as megaman and pac-man are concerned though, I think they are PS3 exclusive only at launch. whoever hacked the 360 version of the game earlier today showcased all the 12 new characters that are not being released at launch (Cody, Guy, Lei, Bryan, Jack....) also showed megaman on the 360 console which means they will probably release the other non sony characters for 360 down the line.
  • DictatorStan - March 5, 2012 1:42 p.m.

    Is it Microsoft or Capcom that hates the idea of 360 exclusive characters (MC and Fenix) or is it both? I always thought that Marcus (though it was WB and Nether Realm) would be perfect for Mortal Kombat.
  • ViolentLee - March 5, 2012 6:05 p.m.

    Sony requires exclusive content on their versions of multi-platform releases (even PSP). Xbox doesn't seem to care.
  • boondocks50 - March 6, 2012 12:54 a.m.

    What did Mass effect 3 have as exclusive content?
  • ItBurnsWhenIWii - March 5, 2012 10:39 p.m.

    Resident Evil Operation Raccoon City lets you play as Nemesis but only on the 360. Capcom really needs to stop with there exclusives for multiplatform games.

Showing 1-20 of 26 comments

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