High Hopes Fulfilled
Never have I more eagerly awaited a video game than “Street Fighter X Tekken.” I sought out every announcement and rumor associated with the game ever since it was unveiled at Comic-Con in 2010. I had daily debates on what characters should be included and who would be top tier. I even constructed a custom arcade stick to play it on. My high hopes have been justified by my first week with “Street Fighter X Tekken.” Capcom has crafted a beautiful fighting game with just a few flaws on the periphery to dim some of its sheen.
“Street Fighter X Tekken” (pronounced Street Fighter cross Tekken) is the first release under the “X” banner, which will see its second entry next year, with the Namco-developed “Tekken X Street Fighter.” “Street Fighter X Tekken” is built on the “Street Fighter IV” engine, and those familiar with that game will feel immediately at home here.
Capcom struck an interesting balance in the game’s character selection. Some of “Street Fighter” and “Tekken’s” classic combatants were left out to make room for less standard choices. Blanka and E. Honda make cameo appearances in the background of a few stages, but are replaced on the roster with some lesser known characters like “Final Fight’s” Poison and Hugo. The roster favors shotos and grapplers over charge characters and this is reflected in the faster-paced, more combo-heavy gameplay compared to “Street Fighter IV.”
Although “Tekken” makes up half the roster, the gameplay is pure “Street Fighter.” The one exception is the tag mechanic which uses the “Tekken Tag Tournament” rule of one character’s defeat ending the round. That doesn’t mean the “Tekken” characters are ineffective by any means, the game emphasizes the up-close action of the “Tekken” series. Throws have had their ranges drastically shortened and their start-up slowed to seven frames. Command throws from grapplers, like Zangief’s spinning piledriver, have had their start-ups nerfed to five frames or slower. This makes butter churning during block strings much less effective. Shoryukens now have less priority, and are much more likely to trade with jump-in attacks. These changes create more poke-heavy fights, which makes up for the overall superiority of the “Street Fighter” side’s special moves.
The game’s “cross gauge” functions like the super meter of the “Street Fighter” series. It is divided into three sections that build up as you inflict and incur damage. It can be used for more powerful attacks or for tagging in your teammate for reasons of safety or additional offense. Its most interesting use is to call in your teammate for simultaneous control of both characters, which can obviously get disorienting for the opponent and the player.
Leading up to the game’s release, the most controversial aspect of the game was the new gem system. Functioning much like “Call of Duty’s” perk system, players equip three gems to each of their fighters with effects like dealing additional damage or increasing a character’s movement speed. Capcom positioned the gem system as a way for newer players to have a better shot at victory online, but it is clear the system was added as an additional way to nickel-and-dime players. The gems designed to help new players, like auto-block and easy input, require precious bar of cross gauge to activate, making them more of a hindrance than help.
Capcom’s real motivation is clear when comparing the “DLC gems” to the gems that come with the standard edition of the game. They are unquestionably better. This isn’t a matter of opinion; many of them do the exact same thing as standard gems, but the standard gem will have a negative aspect, like 10 percent movement speed that doesn’t exist on the DLC version.
As a cherry on top, it was recently discovered that there are 12 characters already on the disc to be released as future DLC. None of this will stop me from playing the game nonstop until the next major fighting game comes out though. Fighting game veterans are well aquainted with Capcom's business tactics, every version of Street Fighter has seen numerous re-releases. If you are thinking about getting into fighting games this isn't a bad place to start. The combo system is a little more forgiving than Street Fighter 4, and the action is easier to keep up with than Marvel vs Capcom 3. Regardless of all the negative aspects in the periphery, the game is a hell of a lot of fun.