REVIEW: Street Fighter X Tekken [PS3]

We’re all painfully aware that storylines in fighting games are never the most well thought-out, consistent, Shakespearean plots in video game entertainment, so it’s no huge surprise that Capcom have justified Street Fighter X Tekken (a 2D tag team fighting game) with a flimsy premise. This one revolves around the fighters brawling their way to the South Pole, inexplicably drawn by the vast, mysterious, yet horrible power of penguins. Also, Pandora’s Box happened to land there when it fell from space. Whether it is devout followers of evil corporations, guys looking to make some money or people in shorts wandering the polar icecaps, they all seek out the Box. Well, it’s a good enough reason as any to start a fight.

The quality of the story greatly varies depending on your character match choices. As you progress through the game, mismatched teams spout generic post fight quotes with no real insight into what you’re doing. Upon completion, you are rewarded with a short, generic video and a text-based conclusion, whereas a defined duo has an introductory video, story-appropriate dialogue and a short, customised video upon completion. While some team adventures play out like a cheesy buddy comedy, it’s nice to see a sense of progression through the battles.

There is somewhat inconsistent voice acting through the game. The majority of the Street Fighter crew will speak in Japanese, regardless of nationality, and a plethora of Tekken characters address their opponents in plain English. It gets more than a little confusing when, say, an English speaking-Japanese tag team speaks to the Japanese speaking Indian/Thai tag team, yet seem to have no trouble comprehending what’s been said. This language crossover happens at least once per “story”, because the rival tag team and boss you will fight are taken from the opposing franchise.

Players are given 19 fighters from each franchise to choose from, but as it’s running in Capcom’s fighting engine, Tekken’s characters have been crunched into the Street Fighter mould and tweaked move-sets to remain competitive (the Street Fighters will no doubt receive the same treatment in the Namco release, Tekken X Street Fighter, announced at Comic-Con 2010). I was pleasantly surprised that characters transitioned well into the frenetic button beat-down of Capcom, though the more “unorthodox” characters have a steeper learning curve. Without the computer’s “Zangief mode”, where complex movements can be executed in a split second, Tekken’s position specific grapples and throws can be difficult to pull off due to awkward range and the brief time available to actually think about the situation.

[img_big]center,50,2012-01-17/PT_13_1_BMP_jpgcopy.jpg,Street Fighter X Tekken[/img_big]

Of course, SFXT has the somewhat-standard training and challenge modes to let you improve your epic skills and come to grips with the new characters. While training mode is handy to explore a character’s move-set and feel, the inhuman speed and precision timing required to complete advanced combinations quickly devolve challenge modes into a whirlwind of foul language and punched cushions. Almost as if deliberately adding to the frustration, looking up moves in any playable mode is a pain in the arse. Unless you’re completely familiar with a character, you’ll have to open the start menu, then command list, then choose your character from the full select screen to view the input commands. While it may only need a few seconds per screen, when there are 19 “new” characters you have to get used, it adds up and will prove to infuriate the less patient gamers around.

The modes do serve their ultimate purpose in letting you explore the new game mechanics at your own speed. To add a level of perks/customisation beyond the Capcom norm of changing costume colours, Street Fighter X Tekken also introduces “gems”. Each fighter can be assigned a combination of two gems, which trigger to increase health, speed, strength or defence when set conditions are met. Another interesting addition is fighters are able to tap into the power of Pandora’s Box to temporarily supercharge their tag partner for a last ditch blitzkrieg attempt. The partner is given increased damage, special meter and boosted health. The drawback is you lose your character and have a limited time in this MIGHTY form to dispatch your opponent before you automatically lose. When players start adjusting their styles and playing around with different combinations, it will make for some interesting online play and with a bit of luck; it may vary beyond the tried and tested Hadouken/Shoryuken loop.

After being completely destroyed by what I assume are high level, professional Street Fighter tournament attendees that practise online after primary school hours, I decided heavy play for the online mode was probably best left till I was more experienced with the game. Ignoring the fact that 99% of administered beatings were received from a Ryu/Ken/Akuma team variant, at the time of play the sound effects cut out often and really made the fights feel disjointed. Arguably, if I could hear the effect, I should see it coming, but it takes away from the game’s pacing and gives the mode a flawed, buggy feel.

[img_big]center,50,2012-01-17/PT_36_2_BMP_jpgcopy.jpg,Street Fighter X Tekken[/img_big]

Nitpicks and manageable frustrations aside, Street Fighter X Tekken is yet another fun crossover tag game, and there’s nothing wrong with that if you’re a fan of the genre. Even with a couple of new functions, there’s nothing ground-breaking, and gamers should come to expect that from the developer. It’s an entertaining and frantic game with a bunch of new characters to play, but, as is the way with most franchises, it really is simply more of the same.

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