'Street Fighter x Tekken' offers fighting game enthusiasts an experience focused on balanced gameplay, player skill, and challenging competition. The game goes out its way to teach gamers how to play skillfully rather than having players franticly mash buttons in the hopes that something will happen. On top of training and practice modes “SF x T” offers some customization options and modes. Unfortunately the Arcade mode feels rather short and may not be interesting for all players, Versus is fairly bare-bones, and the online really only offers two distinct ways to play. Still, for hardcore fighting game fans there is a lot to enjoy in “Street Fighter x Tekken” and the game more than makes up for any shortcomings with its polished and fluid gameplay.
'Street Fighter x Tekken' borrows gameplay from both the “Street Fighter” and “Tekken” franchises. The game is focused around 2 teams made up of two characters (either controlled by two separate players or one player) that battle it out to defeat any one character on the opponents team to win rounds and ultimately to win the match. Those familiar with the “Street Fighter” franchise will feel right at home in the 2D environment whereas those more used to “Tekken’s” 3D style of fighting can find a large amount of helpful tutorial, training, and practice modes to prepare one for battle. There is a decent selection of “Street Fighter” and “Tekken” characters to choose from and no one character seems capable of dominating the field.
For style, Street Fighter x Tekken borrows heavily from “Street Fighter IV.” The cell-shaded characters look great with fluid and flashy animations. Pulling off moves and combos creates bright and colourful effects to highlight the abilities of players. Music is sufficiently up-beat and energetic and sound effects are also effective and well done. Unfortunately, there is an odd sound glitch that happens frequently online. At times, when in online matches, sound seems to just cut out. Overall, however, the visual flare and sound of the game works well to keep the action entertaining.
Round 1! Fight!
Like every good fighting game “SFxTekken” focuses more on player skill than simple button mashing. By stringing together light, medium, and hard punches/kicks one can create a series of combos. Combing basic attacks with a vast number of other moves (such as Special Moves, Cross Rushes, Throws, Super Arts, and more) the player can perform flashy and fast combos with relative ease. Furthermore, keeping an eye on one’s Cross Gauge (a three tiered bar at the bottom of the screen that fills with each attack given and received) is essential since the Cross Gauge determines which moves one can perform and how powerful those moves will be. Of course the ease of stringing together different attacks and moves all depend upon one’s skill and play style. Pulling off certain moves may not be too difficult but knowing when and how to combine the moves together is where the real skill lies.
Furthermore, being able to lose a match by having only one of your teammates defeated makes tagging and team management a critical and very strategic element to any fight. With the addition of new gameplay that focuses on tagging and careful team management coupled with traditional moves and combos “SFxTekken’s” gameplay has incredible depth. Thankfully, gameplay almost always feels very smooth despite the complexity. Still, all this complexity can result in a steep learning curve. However, once one begins to understand and get a handle on the flow of the action and moves, the gameplay shines as a standout example of a fun and fast-paced fighting game.
Controlling the Action
If one wants the most precise and fluid controls when playing “SFxTekken” then a fighting stick is recommended. Using a traditional controller works fine but a fighting stick (The Xbox 360’s proprietary stick was used for this review) allows for more precise movement and button presses. A fighting stick becomes most useful when trying to pull off moves that require multiple button presses at once. With a traditional controller one may find him/herself performing awkward finger acrobatics whereas with a fighting stick one’s fingers generally remain in a comfortable position. Of course, practice enough with either controller type and one can master “Street Fighter x Tekken’s” gameplay regardless of which controller he/she uses.
Arcade and Versus
The Arcade mode is fairly simplistic and short, offering brief narratives for each “official” team (such as Ryu and Ken). Playing through each of the official teams offers some replay but beating Arcade mode once reveals everything it has to offer. The replayability of Arcade mode depends largely on the player’s love of the franchise/characters and whether or not the player is a completionist. For those who are not completionists or those that do not absolutely love the characters Arcade mode offers little replay value. It will take a player approximately between 1 and 2 hours to play through the Arcade mode with one team depending upon difficulty level and player skill. Ultimately arcade mode is best played with Fight Request on, which allows one to queue up for an online ranked match while playing through the Arcade mode. When an online match becomes available through Fight Request the arcade mode switches to an online battle, which gives the arcade mode a bit more purpose than a rather basic solo experience.
Versus allows up to 4 players to fight against each other in same-system matches. Or players can choose to team up against the CPU. Scramble matches are also available to play in Versus (scramble matches are where all 4 characters are on the screen at once). Overall, Versus is another basic game mode that offers limited same system play.
Wax on. Wax off
'Street Fighter x Tekken' features 2 offline game modes (Training and Challenge) focused on teaching players how to control each character. “Training” is the basic fight against the CPU to hone one’s skills. Training offers a number of parameters the player can adjust to customize what exactly he/she wants to practice. For example, in training a player can customize the CPU’s difficulty level, amount of health, how much they block, and so on.
The “Challenge” game mode offers 3 types of challenges: Tutorials, Trials, and Missions. Tutorials offer a rather comprehensive and surprisingly fun step-by-step introduction to the basic controls of the game (such as learning how to throw an opponent, pull off special moves and super arts, and how to call the second character/player into the fight). Trials are distinct for each character as they explain how to pull off each specific move for each character and how to combine those moves together to make combos. Missions are short battles with specific parameters that players must fulfill in order to complete the given mission (such as winning a fight by using only special moves).
The comprehensive suite of practice and training modes are helpful for newcomers to Street Fighter or those looking for a refresher course in either basic or more advanced moves. However, those who are veterans of fighting games might find little challenge or little need to go through these practice/training modes. However, skilled players may find some use for the vast array of training modes in order to practice the two most distinctly new additions to the game: Gems and Pandora.
Street Fighter Jewelry
Gems are buffs and assists that players can activate during a fight. There are two types of gems: Boost Gems and Assist Gems. Boost Gems, when activated, give a player boosts to his/her character’s abilities (such as increasing the damage dealt with each attack). Assist Gems help the player in more passive ways (such as automatically blocking throws). Meeting certain requirements/conditions during a fight activates a gem. When the requirements/conditions are met (such as performing a certain move a certain amount of times) the Gem will activate automatically. Knowing when and how to active a Gem adds a bit more strategy to the gameplay but rarely does activating gems mean the difference between winning or loosing.
Opening Pandora’s Box
Pandora is a last resort move that can only be activated when a player is below 25% health. When activated, Pandora increases the amount of damage a character deals and keeps one’s cross gauge at max. However, activating Pandora also means that one will loose the match once Pandora wears off unless one defeats his/her opponent before the Pandora count down ends. Pandora offers a final strategy to those loosing a match that requires some skill in knowing when to activate it but if one is playing against someone who is an excellent blocker then Pandora will not offer much help.
'Street Fighter x Tekken' also boasts a seemingly long list of customizable options. A player can customize his/her character’s appearance, Gem selection, Quick Combo (a combo activated by pressing the light kick and hard punch buttons at the same time), and titles/comments that are displayed online. Unfortunately customization mainly consists of selecting from a short list of presets that are then applied to one’s character. Thankfully the Gem selection is expansive allowing for players to tailor certain Gem selections to their play style. There is also a vast amount of titles to unlock but titles offer no gameplay significance beyond customizing one’s online profile. Although the customization options are appreciated most of the customization, other than Gems, is lacking in any depth or real gameplay significance.
Some New Challengers
Online 'Street Fighter x Tekken' offers 4 modes for players to engage with: Ranked matches, Endless battle, Scramble, and Briefing Room. Even with all the game modes available it is clear that “SF x T’s” focus is online ranked matches. Through ranked matches players can earn or loose Battle Points (points used to determine one’s position on the leaderboards). In order to keep one’s Battle Points up one must continuously win matches since losing a match always makes a player lose some Battle Points. In short, Ranked Matches is where one’s skill is really tested. Unfortunately, the offline practice and training options are not adequate to prepare one for ranked matches. If one is not a skilled player but wants to compete he/she will just have to jump online and learn by playing. Even with the games matchmaking options a player will inevitably come across an opponent whose skill far outweighs his/her own. For veteran and skilled players ranked matches offer the best challenge and are potentially the most fun and engaging game mode. If one is new to the “Street Fighter” franchise or is a little rusty on the controls then finding a skilled partner is perhaps the best way to learn. One can make a request for a random partner or one can partner up with a friend to fight online.
Endless Battle is a game mode that pits multiple players against each other in non-stop fights. Endless battle seems more casual than ranked matches and appears focused on just having fun with others without the worry of loosing Battle Points. Endless Battle is also a fun way to partner up and practice one’s skills while learning new techniques by watching others fight as one waits for his/her turn. -- Scramble is exactly the same as the scramble found in the offline Versus mode. Online scramble is the least serious of all the online modes where a good part of the fun is watching the confusing chaos on screen. -- Finally the Briefing Room is yet another training and practice mode that requires a partner to train with. Partners can either fight each other or practice fighting as a team against the CPU. For players wishing to increase their skill for online matches the briefing room is perhaps the best way to train and learn how to win online fights.
At first glance the online component of 'Street Fighter x Tekken' looks robust. However, the game really offers only two types of online fights: traditional matches and scramble. Some more variety and originality in the online game modes would be appreciated but what is offered is generally polished. Overall, “Street Fighter x Tekken’s” online suite is for players looking for an online fighting game where the focus is set squarely on gameplay rather than game modes.
'Street Fighter x Tekken' is a fighting game designed for fans of the genre. The robust training and practice options offer help for newcomers to learn the basics and lets veterans’ train in some of the new gameplay. The short Arcade mode will only appeal to diehard fans of either “Street Fighter” or “Tekken” and some of the customization does not offer as much depth as it could have. However, the polished gameplay makes for hectic online matches despite that one cannot find a lot of variety online. If you are looking for a fighting game where the emphasis is on balanced gameplay and challenging traditional online matches then “Street Fighter x Tekken” is a safe choice. If you are looking for a more casual fighting game experience with a focus on varied game modes and group play then 'Street Fighter x Tekken' may not be for you.
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