When two tribes go to war…
If you’re a fighting game fanatic, you’ve probably imagined for quite a while what it would be like if certain Street Fighter characters went head-to-head against their Tekken counterparts. Ryu taking on Jin or Ken battling out with Law, these imaginary fights are soon to become a reality with the release of Street Fighter x Tekken.
Set to launch in March, you’re dying to know how the merger of these two immensely popular fighters is coming along, right? Of course you are, so sit back, relax and read the thoughts of our fighting game experts Aaron and Adrian in this quite awesome dual opinion preview of Street Fighter x Tekken.
Whilst I’m often chomping at the bit to try new fighters out, I’m also pretty quick to drop them if they don’t tickle my fancy early on. Street Fighter x Tekken worried me a bit at first by feeling far too similar to the various iterations of Street Fighter IV (SFIV), but getting a bit more hands-on with the game has put a number of fears aside, and actually made me quite optimistic for its long-term potential.
First up, the roster is fit to burst. Most characters with a SFIV presence feel similar to those incarnations, but even still there’s enough differences in the basic mechanics that you’ll have to re-visit some of your more elementary tactics. Tekken characters feel totally different to their 3D counterparts though, especially with excessive juggles and floor pickups gone, and looks aside, you should see these as entirely new characters with new properties and priorities to learn. With this view on things, it’s easily one of Capcom’s freshest rosters in a long time. I don’t claim to have an eye for zero-day exploits, nor have we had the play time to test out everyone, but no-one has stood out as outrageously overpowered, nor has any one tactic proven unsurmountable. With a roster this large it’s nigh-on impossible to guarantee balance, but early signs aren’t showing anything critical to worry about, and there’s no doubt balance patches will quickly follow any of the more glaring errors. Sony systems having 5 exclusive characters remains a major thorn in my side, but at least these are purposefully ‘out there’ bonus characters as opposed to core fighters from either stable.
Mechanics-wise there’s plenty of new things to learn. Swapping characters is handled with MP+MK, and can leave you dangerously exposed if you make it too obvious what you’re trying to do. As such, focus attacks are out – making dash cancels through fireball traps one less tactic to rely on. Some specials have been given an interesting new property though, allowing them to be charged by holding the final input – i.e. holding P at the end of a QCF with Ryu – which on top of allowing a more tactical release, charges up the moves (up to EX and then to Super) based on duration of the charge and without using meter. Even though they have no armour, you can have fun with these and even use them for feints too, as – similarly to a focus – you can dash cancel out. Every character has a staple 4 hit juggle combo ending in a tag, accessed by going up in strength – i.e. LP, MP, HP, HP – which can then be continued as your new character arrives. Relying on these isn’t ideal though, as especially towards the end of a match you’ll often want to keep one character safe, rather than forcing them out each time you need to deal damage. On top of ‘Cross Arts’ (read: team supers) and ‘Cross Assaults’ (read: royal rumble) you also have Pandora, a last-ditch desperation move where one weakened character is sacrificed, granting the other a brief, all-or-nothing boost that gives you around 10 seconds to turn the match around and win. If you don’t manage it, regardless of current health, you will be knocked out and lose the match. Whilst we didn’t manage to demonstrate any stunning comebacks using it in our brief play session, it certainly helped turn the pressure up that extra notch just when you think you’ve got someone on the ropes.
One of the more controversial additions are gems – a system whereby each character can pick up to 3 gems, each with a different condition to activate, and a different effect once live. For instance, landing 5 normal moves might activate an attack gem increasing your attack power, whereas blocking 5 specials might activate a boost to your defense. The beginner-friendly support gems are the most alarming – easier inputs, auto-tech throws, etc – but are balanced out by other penalties such as spending the contents of your super meter, nullifying their usage at higher levels of play. With each gem’s effect only lasting a certain period of time, awareness of your opponents gems seems to be just as important as watching super meters to anticipate just how hard you can expect to be punished if you present an opening. Pre-orders of the game at different retailers giving you access to different gems remains a little shady, but our Capcom rep on hand ensured us that considerations have been made around the balance implications of this, and that there’s already a method in mind for tackling how offline tournaments should handle situations regarding players using exclusive DLC.
In short? It looks the business, plays solidly, and feels like more of a true sequel to SFIV than the bit-by-bit upgrades we’ve seen through Super, Arcade, and now AE2012. The character list should give even the most conservative player plenty of options, and although a lot of the basics will transfer, there’s still plenty to learn for people coming into this from all manner of skill tiers. Look forwards to the full review coming soon, and in the meantime know this; Aaron’s Cammy is filthy.
With the re-emergence of the fighting game genre you’re never too short on options. Whether you like to keep it simple or prefer a technical combo fiesta, it’s all available. Capcom has been working out how to solidify the two halves into one adrenaline filled experience for a couple of years now. First starting off with the re-imagining of Street Fighter and then following up with the frantic fast paced Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Enter Street Fighter x Tekken, a game that tries to unite fighting game enthusiasts and casuals alike by adding the reactive, wall bounding, juggle – loving monster that is the Tekken community to the mix.
The roster on-hand is absolutely “redonkulous”, (yes, I’m inventing a new word to convey its size) and with characters still being added, you are truly spoiled for choice. Street Fighter x Tekken is shaping up to have one of the most diverse line-ups you’ll have seen in a fighter for a while. Street Fighter veterans will feel right at home here, instantly able to pick up their character of choice and feel out the basics. Naturally, with a new game some move properties and timings have changed, but the feeling of familiarity will give Street Fighter IV fans a good launch pad for their Street Fighter x Tekken adventures. In comparison, the Tekken roster seems more loosely based on their original designs with the exception of a few characters like Kazuya and Nina. Steve seem to have picked up a fireball during his move, but still retains more traditional aspects like his stance changes. It would be fair to say that both line-ups felt somewhat familiar, but remained different enough to provide a new challenge.
Initially, I was somewhat worried about Street Fighter x Tekken. From the moment you pick up the stick (or pad) it almost feels like you can get away with mashing out chain combos (providing you have your distances right) and sail quite comfortable to victory. With each character coming equipped with a stock light, medium, heavy and heavy launcher it is quite tempting to keep it simple. However, that temptation is squashed fairly quickly once you realise there is quite a bit more to the Street Fighter X Tekken engine. Standard bread and butter combos into a variety chain combos work a charm, but the true fun is to be had by making use of the game’s tag mechanic, which can be utilised in a number of ways. Much like FADC (focus attack dash cancel) in Street Fighter, it can be used to safely extract your character from a dangerous situation, but the potential for crazy combos and trickery is also exciting. Couple this with the manic roster and you get the feeling that team synergy is going to play an all too important role in Street Fighter x Tekken’s future.
To add to the mayhem, Cross Arts, Cross Assault and Pandora mode (sacrifices a character for a short power boost and unlimited Cross Meter) are here to confuse you further, adding yet more customisation and combo opportunities. Cross Arts are the easiest to get the hang of, filling in the role of super for this game. Cross Assaults, however, are a seemingly random affair, with the AI taking control of your second character. This makes trying to string anything together a bit erratic as you try to predict what the AI will do on the fly. Personally, I felt this gave the ability a major risk-reward factor that (in most cases) just wasn’t worth it this early in the game’s life, and preferred to save the precious meter for other uses. It will be interesting to see how useful this ability will become in the grand scheme of things once the fighting game community gets involved after release.
On the other hand, Pandora mode was something myself or Adrian didn’t use much at all during our time with the game, due to the fact that it kills your character after the 8-10 second power up period. This was probably down to our limited understanding on what is possible with the ability, so it was difficult to justify losing a character for. However, it is possible to activate Pandora mode after a wall and possibly a ground bound with certain characters lending itself to huge hitting combos. It is a shame then that a lot of the future combo potential will most likely be hampered by the game’s damage scaling system, safely making its way across from Street Fighter IV. Saying that, I have no doubt we will see some amazing combos that utilise this ability in the future.
Cross meter, as you may have guessed, is all the rage in Street Fighter x Tekken, and for good reason too. A lot of your damage and utility comes from using it. It’s probably due to this that meter acquisition has gone old school in this game. That’s right, normals build the meter and you are going to need plenty of it. This could force Street Fighter x Tekken into being a move offensively minded game, as you are less likely to sit back and watch your opponent throw out normals that result in you incurring his wrath later.
It would be fair to say that Street Fighter x Tekken’s gem system has not been well received by fans. A simple yet game altering addition that enables you to boost your fighters abilities. Even after some hands-on time the support gems that allow for automatic throw techs, auto-blocking and execution still look somewhat game breaking, and until they are seen out there in the wild it’s hard to tell how much so. However, the other attack, speed and defence gems are so subtle the common player will barely notice them during gameplay, and at the same time provide excellent customisation abilities that should see the life expectancy of the game bloom accordingly. Speaking of customisation, it was also nice to see the ability to customise the colour scheme of each character within the menu system. Each aspect of your fighters get-up will be available for a colour change, making your fighter combination recognisable across the land.
I went into my time with Street Fighter x Tekken slightly reserved, only to come out thinking about the possibilities. The game is filled with promise and potential opportunities to create your own play-style, whilst still remaining accessible enough to appeal to the mass market. Capcom might be on to another winner here, but only time will tell. As is always the case, the community will determine the outcome. Oh and Adrian is jealous!
Street Fighter x Tekken is set to hit the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC in North America on March 6th, and in Europe on March 9th.