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In Memory
Sean Pettibone


SF v TK screenshotStreet Fighter X Tekken (Playstation 3) Two long-running fighting game franchises have finally collided. With more than 40 characters in all, there’s a wide rosters of characters to choose from including iconic fighters from both franchises. Its definitely a match of equals in terms of gameplay style and substance, but there are a few unique elements, such as the gem system and cross-arts moves, that give the game a unique feel all its own. Its definitely one of the most-anticipated games of the year, but the question most players have is whether it delivers on its own high-expectations. Will Tekken and Street Fighter really mesh well with each other? Read our review and find out.

Capcom has a fairly consistent track record when it comes to combining its legendary fighting franchises with that of other companies’ series. From the days of X-Men vs. Street Fighter, to SNK vs. Capcom and more recently, the revived Marvel vs. Capcom series, these titles have delivered the frenetic fun that set the standard for others to follow. Done right, these are some of the most enjoyable, accessible games on the market. The company has made it look easy, but players need only look at something like DC vs. Mortal Kombat to see how difficult it can be to tie together disparate source material. The latest attempt by the company might be its most challenging task to date. Melding the traditional 2D Street Fighter series with Namco’s all 3D, and much flashier Tekken series sounds like a difficult feat to pull of, but once again, the game delivers and exceeds expectations. Developed by Capcom, it features the now-familiar approach that melds 3D models, rendered in stylized anime brush stokes with traditional 2D gameplay to deliver some intense gameplay mechanics. The game includes an extensive roster of around 40 characters evenly divided between the two series. Most of the characters, such as Tekken’s Jin, Hyubasa and King make expected appearances, along with iconic Street Fighters Guile, Ryu and, Dhalsim. As is typical in these types of cross-over fighters, there are a range of odd-ball characters like Phoenix Wright and Pac-Man who make unexpected cameos. This gives the game a good balance between the depth and tradition hardcore games expect and the light-hearted moments that can attract newbies and causal players. Most battles are structured as two per side team matches where the player can switch between to characters and use their moves as they please. You can choose from a any combination, but it helps to use those with similar styles so the transitions between using them aren’t so jarring.

The gameplay should be familiar to most veteran players, with most characters’ retaining their move sets and individual styles. This allows you to jump right in if you’re familiar with each series and begin flailing away. As you’d expect, the controls are tight and fluid throughout and the game controls smoothly whether you’re using a standard controller or an arcade stick (recommended), though some of the combos and attacks will take some time to master. There’s a helpful on-screen menu of each character’s moves available as well as extended tutorial and training modes. The game allows you to play in a number of different modes. Its arcade mode is fairly straightforward in that you battle a series of opponents in matches until you reach the typically difficult end-stage boss. Beating this mode allows you to unlock additional characters. In addition, you can compete online against other players and have your match times and wins ranked via leaderboards. You can also record, save and replay your best matches if you want. The game includes an extensive tutorial section that allows you to practice your special moves, learn the game’s nuances and other skills in a series of training exercises. Players can compete head-to-head, against a computer AI opponent or go online in many of these modes as well. With so many players and a relative low number of characters, its difficult to stand out from the crowd. You can customize each character’s appearance and costume at the start of each match and unlock additional items as you win matches. There are the usual assortment of modes and variations to choose from, but all of these add up to create a deep, well-rounded fighting game.

With its dizzying array of special attacks, combos, counters, special arts and other moves, learning the intricacies of the fighting system can be a little intimidating for the novice. Add to this the game’s new Gem system and you have the potential for a game so complex, it becomes almost impenetrable. Fortunately, the way the system works builds on the previous elements to make for an even more strategic game. Gems are selected before each battle, and can be configured and customized to a degree. You can choose any two that are in your arsenal and assign them to the fighter. There are two types of gems players can use: Burst, which are attack moves that increase your damage and Assist Gems that can be used to counter attacks or reduce damage. Each fighter in the game has their own unique gems, which adds to the replay value. You can only use the gems in each battle when you complete certain conditions, such as attacking three times with a punch or countering an opponent’s moves. They’re usually activated automatically, so you don’t have to memorize another long string of moves, which makes them a pleasing addition to the battle strategies you might use. An easy indicator that the Gem power has been unleashed comes when your fighter begins to glow. Once activated, these can then used and the increased abilities during battle can be quite effective. However, your opponent can use them as well, so you can’t rely on them exclusively. They work in tandem with the existing moves and can give you an extra advantage. Using them carefully can give you that extra push to finish off an opponent help you turn around a losing battle. While it might seem initially like these are a gimmick, they don’t unbalance the gameplay as might have been the case, and the sheer number and variety of special powers they provide adds much more variety to the battles. 

This title requires gamers to build up their experience and skill, but Street Fighter X Tekken rewards the persistent player with added customization bonuses and unlockable characters to help keep them motivated. Its online rankings and replay modes give further impetus to keep playing, while the frenetic pace keeps things from becoming monotonous. Capcom has been on quite a roll over the past few months, and the fighting game revival that began with Street Fighter IV continues unabated. The frequency of recent releases from the company is a bit worrisome, but their consistency isn’t in question. While trying to meld these two franchises into one could have been a bad idea, the implementation here is superb. It takes the best elements and characters from both series and makes them work well together. Street Fighter X Tekken is a superb fighting game that successfully mixes all the ingredients to create instant classic. There’s an impressive roster of well-known characters, who are familiar, yet feel refreshed by the new concept and cross-overs. As you’d expect, there’s a deep fighting system that delivers both depth and challenge while not becoming to intimidating or overly complex. The game’s unique Gem upgrade system layers successfully onto the existing combo and super chain system to give the gameplay a strategic edge that’s unique and innovative. Add in multiple modes of play for both solo and online players and you have a well-rounded experience. There’s extensive online fighting options with intuitive ranking and replay modes that adds to the unpredictable excitement of these battles. There are also some ingenious twists and an interesting back story behind the game that helps to keep things interesting. Street Fighter X Tekken an excellent game overall, and while it doesn’t match the frenetic pace, huge roster or over-the-top button mashing of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, there’s still an accessible and playable fighting game here. By creating an almost seamless cross-over between two disparate fighting game franchises, Street Fighter X Tekken brings both franchises together in fine fashion.
- Michael Palisano

Grade: B+

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