Street Fighter X Tekken (XBOX 360)
Since the dawn of gaming beat 'em ups (level based side scrolling etc) and fighting games (side on character vs. character) have been around, even as early as the mid-70s Sega had an old arcade game called Heavyweight Champ which featured side view combat between two characters. As we moved through the 80s and into the 90s the two genre's evolved with games such as Streets of Rage, Double Dragon and Street Fighter taking the gameplay forward, often looking to each other for inspiration.
Beat Em Ups started to fade away after the likes of Golden Axe and Final Fight had hit the market though whereas fighting games hit a mass audience in 1991 with Street Fighter 2's release. With that particular game Capcom introduced a gameplay mechanic which captured the imagination of gamers around the world and while the Arcade version was popular the Super NES version sold millions upon millions.
Really the majority of fighting games on the market today can be traced back to Street Fighter 2 and its various Super, Turbo, Hyper, Champion editions which introduced new characters and gameplay tweaks, even counting Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 which was released on PS Vita last month.
For the core Franchise Street Fighter 3 followed in 1997 but it was over a decade later before we saw another sequel this time for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC... a long way from the Dreamcast days of SF3. Street Fighter 4 had a lot to live up to considering the work various developers had put in since 1997 giving franchises such as Dead or Alive, Virtua Fighter, the Soul series and Tekken significant sequels and enhancements but it delivered with many critics and gamers calling it the finest fighting game of all time.
Now Capcom are back with a title which has the potential to be a classic, Street Fighter X Tekken which sees the characters from both franchises combine in a game which uses the highly praised Street Fighter 4 fighting engine, tweaked to suit both groups. Added to this are new power up items and game modes along with revised online code to streamline the competitive experience.
The core gameplay in Street Fighter vs. Tekken see's us take control of two characters from thirty eight in a tag team battle. We move and block with the left stick/pad and attack or tag with our right hand/shoulder buttons (NOTE:
Tekken fans will be pleased to know those characters have familiar 4 button controls available). As with previous Street Fighter games there are various levels of kick and punch available to us. The fights take place in a 2D plane however special moves, of which there are plenty, bring us out of that mode and into a 3D style environment usually accompanied by some impressive graphical touches.
As with many recent fighting games our survival is based on the health meter at the top of the screen and once either of our characters has theirs completely depleted the round is awarded to the other team. Also a familiar touch is a meter at the bottom of the screen which increases as we successfully land hits, unlocking more powerful attacks as it fills.
Further enhancing the gameplay are Gems. These power ups are chosen pre-match and split into two categories, Assists and Boosts. Assists make particular actions easier and Boosts have the impact, as one example, of increasing our damage so even in a match between two sets of identical characters the potential is there, through Gems, to make the gameplay style of each slightly different.
Tag team combat is key to Street Fighter vs. Tekken as the use of two characters lengthens the fights but also allows us to combine both in various ways. We can simply tag out at random or through techniques such as Cross Assault attack with both fighters at the same time, or even switch mid combo if we wish. It is also worth noting that when tagged out of the game a characters health will increase a little. Choosing characters for the tag battles also has an impact on the gameplay style as we can combine (juggle) their abilities to create new and unique attacks specific to that combination of fighters.
For the main single player campaign we get a fairly basic story about a box falling from the sky... yes the box is called Pandora... and we take our two fighters through the game in various locations across the globe to defeat rival factions and try to obtain the box and its contents for ourselves. Pandora also lends its title to the ability our characters have to sacrifice themselves, passing any remaining health to their team-mate for a short time enhancing their abilities.
Multiplayer begins on the local console and allows us to play with up to three other players in 2vs2 tag matches as well as opting for Scramble Mode in which all four fighters compete in the same "ring".
2vs2 Tag and Scramble are available online too as are ranked matches, leader boards and replay viewing and sharing. We also get the option of enabling Fight Requests in the campaign/arcade mode where players looking for a game will connect and challenge us and we can tailor those challenges and online fights to our liking, setting regions, skill levels and the like.
Added to all this are training modes, an online store for added DLC and a huge number of unlocks from achievements and power-ups to badges which display to our online opponents and taglines to go with them. Want to be called "The Hero" and tell people "everything about me is cute"... no problem.
Graphics and Audio
Street Fighter X Tekken is based on the Street Fighter 4 game engine and so in many ways it looks similar to that game, while managing to remind us of Street Fighter 2's visual style. Coming from Marvel vs Capcom some of the backgrounds don't seem quite as spectacular but they are still reasonably impressive with the junk yard being particularly memorable. We also get multiple areas within each arena, starting on rooftops for one round before descending into the streets and in others day moves into night. Mixed in there are also little nods to other Capcom content such as the Dino Crisis themed level or Haggar from Final Fight popping up in the background elsewhere.
As the special moves are actioned the game visuals really take off and fighters such as Akuma have some truly spectacular examples of this. Character models are also well drawn with a more gritty appearance than most would expect and it works well due to the meaty combat which the game produces.
On the audio front we get a mix of traditional arcade with Japanese themes and hard rock to take us through the game. These mix with voiceovers and the legendary Street Fighter chants as the gameplay progresses. Decent impact sounds give weight to the onscreen action too which is always appreciated.
First and foremost this feels like a Street Fighter game and that begins with the traditional Capcom style intro sequence featuring slow motion battles between key characters before entering a menu that experienced gamers will find familiar. From that menu those who haven't played a Street Fighter game for a while, or ever, should head into training to grasp the basics in free combat or set tasks as mastering the combat early benefits the enjoyment of the main game as well as our success online later. In Street Fighter X Tekken button mashing only gets us so far... and try to take that approach online ends only in certain defeat.
For the single player modes the initial experience is short-lived, we battle through a handful of rounds quite easily with our chosen fighters before moving on to the more challenging characters and end of game boss. Then that's it... what needs to be realised is that for single player experience Street Fighter X Tekken is very much about mastering our gameplay style and unlocking the vast range of items which are opened by progressing.
Multiplayer and online is what the game is really about and Capcom have blended the Xbox Live experience into the game well. For example when starting the arcade/campaign mode we can set Fight Requests to On which allows us to be challenged by people across the world as we progress.
For local and online multiplayer the core gameplay remains the same as single player and Capcom have found a good balance across the characters with each feeling unique. This then opens a wide range of options for very different team styles when we begin choosing from the two franchise groups. That alone would be enough for most developers but here we go a step further with the addition of Gems which benefit novices and experienced players equally.
Special moves and combo's are plentiful in Street Fighter X Tekken and really add an element of showmanship to the presentation. Not only that building up our Cross Gauge and then executing a powerful combo also gives us a real sense of achievement, especially when it takes down a human player.
That said we would have liked the option for a gameplay mode which removes the extras completely for a traditional... or classic... Street Fighter 2 esq battle experience. Also on the slightly negative front is Scramble Mode which in theory is a nice addition but trying to fit multiple fight planes into this games fight engine is a little too much and fights end up being a bit of a free for all where two players often manage to sandwich another and beat them into unavoidable submission very quickly. Also in need of a slight tweak are a few of the characters, at least on the easier level, such as Dhalsim being able to stand well back and significantly deplete the opponents health without any danger to themselves. Finally on the minor issues and tweak front on our pre-fight screen which covers the game loading the musical score could do with being a little longer as it ends well before the load is complete and we then sit in silence staring at a near static image, waiting.
Back to the positives we have a game where the characters and controls from Tekken have been implemented well despite the differing styles. They never feel out of place, even when fighting characters who have the ability to shoot fireballs and the like then in addition to this the revised controls they use also feel well suited to the game. So much so that we found ourselves seamlessly moving between characters during fights even when there was one from Street Fighter and another from Tekken.
The potential which is opened by combining the various fighting styles is key to Street Fighter X Tekken's success though as it, along with Gems, Cross and Pandora enhancements give the game a hugely customisable and unique feel which feels completely fresh each time we enter battle.
An epic fusion of two classic fighting games which takes the exceptional basis of Street fighter 4 and evolves it into something new and exciting.