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'Street Fighter x Tekken' Review (PS3)

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

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Street Fighter x Tekken

Street Fighter x Tekken

Image © Capcom
With the fighting game market witnessing a number of recent critical and commercial successes (including "Marvel vs. Capcom 3," "Mortal Kombat," and "Soul Calibur"), it is more difficult than ever to stand above the bloody crowd. Any new fighting game, hoping to distinguish itself, definitely needs a hook. And can you think of a better hook than forming a fighting game super-group? If one cast of top-tier fighting characters is good enough to entice gamers, won't two casts of legendary brawlers bring in twice as many fighting fans (and total units sold)? Such is the thinking behind the likely-hit "Street Fighter x Tekken" (the "x" is pronounced "cross"). But is it as creatively vital as either of the franchises that spawned it or is it just an odd spin-off that doesn't live up to the influential legacies behind its origins?

Game Details

  • Publisher: Capcom
  • Developer: Capcom
  • ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
  • Genre: Fighting
  • Pros: Clever character design, fun backgrounds, dozens of fighters, quirky visuals
  • Cons: Favors button-mashing over strategy, non-existent solo play

While your mom may look at the market of fighting games and think they're all the same, fans of the genre know that most of the hit franchises play to different types of fight fans. Some are heavy on strategy. Others place an emphasis on combo moves. And then there's "Street Fighter x Tekken," a game which often feels like it's a contest to determine which player can mash his buttons the fastest. It's a fighting game that values a varied, high-speed attack over mastering combos, blocking, or trying to find your opponent's weaknesses.

Capcom has long operated from a "more is better" business model, and "Street Fighter x Tekken" certainly delivers on that accord. The game includes multiple fighting styles, specialized moves, and dozens of characters from both franchises including Ryu, Ken, and Dhalsim from "Street Fighter" and Kazuya, Nina, and Asuka from "Tekken." The PS3 version also includes five exclusive fighters, which exemplify Capcom's unique approach to fighting games as they bring such bizarre choices as Pac-Man, Mega Man, and Cole (from Sony's "inFamous" series) into the arena. Strange, clever, and fast-paced, "Street Fighter x Tekken" does seem thin when compared to some of the stellar fighting games released in the last few months, but it's a title that has been targeted at a very specific audience that will almost certainly be satisfied with its brand of manic combat.

Gameplay

Street Fighter x Tekken

Street Fighter x Tekken

Image © Capcom

The core mechanics of the game are drawn from Capcom's "Street Fighter" franchise (as opposed to Namco's "Tekken"), however, there are definitely elements of both series incorporated into the experience. The game defaults to "Street Fighter"'s six-button system -- high/medium/low kicks and high/medium/low punches -- but it can be changed to a "Tekken"-esque four-button system if the player prefers. Though the visual style is pure Capcom, the tag system and some of the combat techniques will be very familiar to "Tekken" fans.

"Street Fighter x Tekken" features four basic modes -- Arcade, Versus, Network, and Challenge. There is also a Tutorial, a deep Customization menu, and, of course, access to the Store for downloadable content. The modes are relatively self-explanatory, though the emphasis is clearly on getting you online to face against an actual opponent. Even as you're playing Arcade, trying to hone your skills, you can be instantly drawn into an online match unless you turn off a setting. The Challenge mode basically just teaches you individual character combos and Versus and Network are merely off-line or on-line battles. There is a small story told over Arcade mode, but it's completely inconsequential. The designers of "Street Fighter x Tekken" clearly want you to play online with other gamers and everything is built around that goal.

As for arena design, the developers employ the quirky aesthetic that one would expect from a game in which a Pac-Man in a robot suit can fight a scantily clad ninja. One arena features dinosaurs in the background, while another takes place on a moving vehicle being chased across Antarctica by a giant mastodon. It's extremely silly, but it is nice to see a fighting game that doesn't take itself seriously in the slightest.

When it comes to combat, "Street Fighter x Tekken" is all about speed. The tutorial may teach you how to block, but, the second you enter an online fight, you will realize that the faster combatant wins. In terms of strategy, mix up your punches and kicks, find a few combos that work, and push the buttons as fast as you can. All fights are 2-on-2 and it's easy to tag out players quickly, even in the middle of a move.

As the fights go on, players build up gauges and earn gems that can amplify combat. The "Cross Gauge" allows for special moves, and the gems boost certain abilities based on accomplishments in-combat and can be tweaked like a weapons load-out pre-fight. For example, you can set a gem that increases your fighting ability after completing 5 normal attacks. There are defensive gems, speed gems, and several other variations that can all give you some extra power against your opponent.

The other new addition to combat that will be unfamiliar to either "Street Fighter" or "Tekken" fans is something called "Pandora." When one of your fighters is below 25%, you can initiate "Pandora," which gives the remaining fighter super strength and unlimited "Cross Gauge." However, the powers come with a meter and, if the initiator does not win the fight by the time it runs out, it's an automatic loss.

Graphics & Sound

"Street Fighter x Tekken" has that ultra-animated style that will be familiar to fans of Capcom's "vs." games like "Marvel vs. Capcom 3." It's like an exaggerated cartoon and, consequently, the graphics can sometimes lack a bit of weight. Kicks and punches connect in a uniquely odd way in this highly stylized world. The quirky visuals are consistent across the character and arena design, but they don't seem to have as much depth as "MvC 3" and can sometimes lead to frustrating combat. As for audio, the game features an expected, non-stop techno soundtrack that fits the material well.

Bottom Line

Street Fighter x Tekken

Street Fighter x Tekken

Image © Capcom
"Street Fighter x Tekken" marks another cross-franchise accomplishment for Capcom and finds a way to carve out its own personality in a market glutted with high quality product. Some of the combat relies too heavily on speed over smarts for this fighting game aficionado, but, for those who like their fighting games fast, furious, and freaky, they're going to want to pick their favorite character and jump in.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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