Sometimes, two completely different halves make an excellent whole: Vodka X Redbull, Timone X Pumba, Street Fighter X Tekken. Unsurprisingly, the latter brings two opposing franchises together with undeniable confidence. We’ve seen plenty of Street Fighter IV iterations across the past couple of years, so is this game necessary? No, it definitely isn’t, but that doesn’t stop it offering a bloody good time.
Capcom haven’t been afraid to mix things up, as this title manages to distinguish itself from Street Fighter IV by introducing a number of new combat elements. The most obvious is the use of 2v2 match-ups. With over 40 characters, the options here are endless. Sure, everyone can adequately throw Ryu and Ken together, but incorporate the Tekken characters, and things become a lot more interesting.
Namco’s cast fit in amazingly well. Capcom have done a remarkable job of ensuring move lists and styles are adhered to. After a few rounds, you’ll be juggling enemies with Law, before calling in Yoshimitsu to spin your way towards victory. For those who want to stick with the familiarity of Street Fighter characters, it’s hugely rewarding to experiment with a number of partners.
If you understand how to pull off classic combos from any of Capcom’s inclusions, take time to see which Tekken fighter’s can capitalise on the momentum. Great variation is installed throughout the product, making this an extremely addictive and worthwhile journey for those who put in the time. The Internet is always awash with buzz when one new Street Fighter character is unveiled, so with 20 pristine move lists to conquer, there’s plenty to get excited about.
Interestingly, a suped-up roster isn’t the only prominent change. The inclusion of a gem system shakes things up even further. By performing pre-determined actions during battle, you’ll initiate a boost of some kind. Before each match, the opportunity to choose your aid arises. Would you rather take advantage of extra speed, or go all out on powerful combat? As you get to grips with each character, more varied opportunities start to show themselves. These boosts are not only vital to your survival, they bring another level of strategy to each bout.
To receive the helping hand, you must understand exactly what you need to execute. The art of timing is crucial. A gem offers both a way out of a tough situation, and a method of prolonging an attack. Your decision to kick-start a statistical advantage is not only easy to perform, it becomes drilled into your mind within a few rounds. Newcomers to Street Fighter will find this hugely rewarding, while series veterans will ensure it becomes a deadly part of their arsenal. For players who fail to use gems properly, they will often take effect accidentally, but this lack of tactical astuteness soon falls short.
Much of the singleplayer action stems from the Arcade Mode. While some attempt at a narrative is made, even the most imaginative players will fail to be inspired. Fighting games aren’t renowned for interesting and complex story-lines, so the brief cut-scenes are more than welcome. We know competitors from across the land are rushing to harness the power of a mysterious cube named Pandora. That’s where most minds will switch off. Luckily, Pandora isn’t here without reason. In fact, for 2v2 gameplay, this intriguing box is arguably the most powerful weapon of all.
The premise here is simple. If one of your character’s health drops below 25%, calling for Pandora can change the tide of battle, by eliminating half of your team. In return, your remaining fighter becomes an awe-inspiring, oh-my-god-I-need-to-get-out-of-his way behemoth. By killing off an ally, your statistics are boosted through the roof.
Your character becomes so devastating, their pupils dissolve into a white mist, while their bodies glow with metallic silvers and purples. Have you ever tried to fight someone with no pupils? That’s rage blinding them, I’m telling you.
Once again, this inclusion unearths a number of new strategies. Experimental players can use one character to size the opponent up, taking on the role of bait. The second can be brought in to take advantage of any weaknesses found. That said, if you’re going to perform any of the cross-over moves, both will need to be intact for the duration. The scope is tremendous. Bold players will put all their eggs in one basket, opting to use Pandora alongside devastating combos, while reserved challengers place equal reliance on both members of their team.
With so much to practice, it’s great to see a weighty set of tutorials. Dan humorously directs players through the intricacies of the series, introducing both classic and new gameplay mechanics. As ever, those who put in the work will feel a sense of achievement when results start to show. To try any new technique you may have learned, a testing set of challenges awaits. Although these aren’t original to the series, they’re perfect for increasing your effectiveness or for dusting up on skills forgotten over time.
Like Street Fighter IV, online multiplayer is a huge drawing point here. Those looking to take on all comers can still be challenged when offline, but it’s the four player 2v2 that makes all the headlines. These battles are predictably chaotic, and place an emphasis on finely-tuned team work. Find a partner who learns your game, and expect the combos to roll.
At this early stage, multiplayer is suffering from a crippling amount of lag, but I expect this to be ironed out before release. Nobody enjoys conflict where the sound is out of sync with the action, and hindered by slowdown, so Capcom need to ensure this is sorted before the masses arrive.
After plenty of hype, I’m pleased to say Street Fighter X Tekken delivers spectacularly. Capcom continue to evolve the fighting genre by installing original gameplay mechanics, all of which welcome newcomers and series aficionados alike. The Tekken characters fit perfectly, often blurring the border between the games more than expected. Many were cautious when this title was announced, but in reality, these great franchise’s naturally band together, producing a rewarding and thoroughly exciting addition to Capcom’s esteemed history. Namco, it’s over to you.
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