Capcom is in a position that few companies must envy. They single-handedly created the modern fighting genre and everyone still follows Street Fighter II’s lead; sure we’ve gotten variations to the formula, but pretty much every character in any fighting game has fireball or uppercut motions in their arsenal. As a result, Capcom has developed an intense following, especially among those who engage in virtual fisticuffs. Which is both a blessing and a curse.
Due to their need to keep their hardcore users satisfied, Capcom has created increasingly complex and obtuse sequels and follow-ups. Sure there have been attempts to make things differently, for those who don’t drink the Kool Aid, but it’s never really worked. Street Fighter X Tekken represented a chance for them to finally break loose and experiment, but sadly, it’s the first real example of how truly stale and stagnant the formula has become.
The game itself plays just fine, with emphasis on the word “just”. Following the same mold established by previous Vs. titles, you control a pair of characters in tag team competition. But there is one key difference: even though both characters have their health bars, if one is completely depleted, both lose the round. A concept borrowed from Tekken Tag Tournament, one of the new ideas to be embraced by Capcom unfortunately.
The biggest problem is how the Street Fighter characters play just like Street Fighter characters, and the Tekken characters control just like Street Fighter characters. This wasn’t a problem in Marvel Vs. Capcom, since Spider-Man and company didn’t have previously established moves from other fighting games. Tekken is a different story; everyone’s major moves have been retrofitted to fit the Street Fighter style. Sometimes it makes sense; sometimes it’s totally awkward. Worst of all, most were left far behind.
It would be totally unfair for Street Fighter’s crew to have 5 or 6 specials each, and Tekken to have 15 or 20 like normal. Yet, a creative solution could have been reached, and it honestly feels like such avenues were not even explored. And given how much time this particular game was spent in development, that’s ridiculous. As a result of this, the Tekken characters feel like second-class citizens.
Not helping is how without all the different, nuanced move sets, many Tekken characters are completely stripped of all their personality. He was on shaky ground to begin with, but Bob seems even sillier now. Then again, it’s not like many of the Street Fighter 4 faces are all that awesome either. Speaking of, the cast of available characters is barely serviceable. Some of the best ones are being reserved for later down the road, even though the data is on everyone’s game discs already.
Control-wise, things feel pretty spot-on and the audio is nothing worth writing home about, so not much else to say here either. Graphics are another story. It builds upon the esthetics that were established in SF4, which I personally find ugly, but at least it’s different than almost anything else out there. I will say, I love the “liquid-y” feel to supers, which is somewhat a nod to the “painterly” look they have in SF4. And the backgrounds are filled to the brim with all kinds of neat references to games from both companies.
The other point of contention is the Gems System. Colored stones enable special attributes in characters if certain conditions are met (usually if your health gets to a certain point). This is Capcom’s latest attempt to make the game approachable to newbies, and it just doesn’t work. Eventually the totally perfect combination of gems will be discovered, and those who are not Street Fighter masters and are struggling as is (and whom the gems are primarily aimed for) will be TOTALLY screwed.
But also, for something that is again supposed to entice new players, it’s overall implementation and execution leaves a lot be desired. There have been complaints regarding the online experience, as it pertains to lag. During my time with both the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions, I experienced almost none. Luck perhaps.
In the end, Street Fighter X Tekken, even with all the new characters and attempts at making it approachable to a wider audience, is just the same old, same old. And in the process, actually makes certain problems worse. One can’t help but wonder if their desire to appease such a customer base is making them blind to all the possibilities out there. At least new fighters are constantly stepping to the forefront and advancing the genre. Something Capcom could honestly care less about. PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Vita