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Street Fighter X Tekken (PlayStation 3) artwork

Street Fighter X Tekken (PlayStation 3) review

"Problems begin to arise when players realize the clock is running out on them, and often. "

Surely, the Tekken characters are at a disadvantage here. Not only are they making the transition across dimensional planes, but are also being put in the hands of rival developer, Capcom. How can the side stepping champions of the Iron Fist Tournament adapt to the unmerciful and paper thin territory of fireballs and uppercuts? Is Jin Mishima just going to start throwing fireballs of his own so he can compete with Ryu? Well, actually, thatís exactly what he ends up doing. And oddly enough, that solution isnít as boring as it sounds Ė nothing ever is in the world of Street Fighter X Tekken.

Because Jinís new projectile attack is actually much cooler than a mere excuse to have an answer to the Street Fighter game. It doesnít travel on a trajectory; it just sort of manifests itself on the field creating an immediate threat of space to the opponent. Ryuís fireball is different too, though; he can charge and cancel it at will, making for some nasty opportunities to feint. But the Tekken characters and subtle changes to character move sets are hardly the only foreign additions to Capcomís Street Fighter domain. What theyíve created is an utterly hilarious mixture of haphazard charm -- a game thatís outrageous, physics defying, and infatuated with its own stupidity.

Itís the kind of stupidity seen when iconic Chinese Interpol cop, Chun-Li, approaches a rival tag team in the gameís Arcade Mode, informing them that the area is off limits to civilians when kids are literally hanging out in a skate park as the stageís backdrop. You tell Ďem, Chun! And so the fight will begin in a wash of beautifully saturated colors alongside a funky track of trip hop music -- a more modest environment in Street Fighter X Tekken. Itís nothing compared to giant mammoths chasing a hover craft in Antartica, a trailer park of pimped out mobile homes raging to some happy hardcore techno, or the ďJurassic Era Research facility.Ē Best not to ask questions here.

The complete lack of coherence plainly shows how much fun the development team had in their freedoms with the mashup, but a great amount of respect is conversely apparent within gameís roster. With richly detailed models across the board, the difference between the casts is made clear in their very animations. Street Fighter characters keep the twirly choreography and cartoony arm and leg extensions; while the Tekken side of things is more rooted in the realism of martial arts, and carries a noticeable level of weight behind each blow. Their move sets are cringing displays of power, like Kazuyaís kidney shot ender to his surgical chain combos, or how the cheetah faced King walks up the chest of an opponent to prepare them for a concrete facial. Itís got that umph, that get some attitude the Tekken games have always rewarded players with.

Itís an attitude that lends itself to the entire game, too, with throw animations getting their own profound camera angles, and the hurricane kicks of Ryu and Ken creating skin slapping sounds at the rate of machine gun fire. In fact, the sound effects are so gratifying -- from the beat downs to the adorable way the characters call out each otherís names for a tag in -- that it makes the lack of sound in online multiplayer that much more unbearable. Itís unfortunately out of sync, from the stageís music to the very sound effects. And itís not even a sacrifice for the greater good, either, since finding smooth matches is as much as a chore as itís always been with Capcom fighters. Far from unplayable, but make sure to keep the sound off and to grab a good playlist (dubstep, anyone?) while toughing it out in ranked matches.

Instead, throwing down locally produces a more enjoyable tag based fighter. A very tame one in comparison to most, namely for its lack of an assist option (brief attack commands from off screen partners), but this makes it a bit more approachable. The entire cast shares a universal chain combo, meaning a simple a run of the fingers and any player can perform a string of blows into a launch. This launch will send the opponent airborne and simultaneously have the second fighter run in to follow up with the juggle. More creative tags can be implemented with the use of EX meter, like Ryu tagging in Tekkenís Xiaoyu after he lands an uppercut. This allows for interesting set ups and potentially dirty mind tricks, especially tagging characters in while in the midst of an already executed special Ė picture Kenís hurricane kick as Zangief runs out for the suplex.

Itís a rewarding system, accessible, and one of the most enjoyable fighting experiences seen in a while that utilizes a human partner option. In fact, the 2v2 mode with a friend as a tag-in may be the definitive way to play Street Fighter X Tekken. Character synergy in the game is subtle at best, so the actual battles play more like two 1- on-1s instead of a conversation over proper team composition. This makes it a process of relieving pressure of each other, and creates a fun social dynamic between two players. Thereís also a mode called Scramble, where all 4 characters appear on screen at once for a battle royale. But itís about as functional as it sounds, and so probably best played over a few beers.

With the traditional 99 second timer and two teams of two, Street Fighter X Tekken becomes very concerned with the management of time, health, and EX meter. Losing one character means the end of the round, so finding ways to keep the healthy one on point while the other regains health is often the key to winning. This philosophy makes for an intense game that can vary greatly match to match, and depends on the types of characters present. Faithful to their origins, Tekken characters are great at applying pressure with lengthy chain combos that can end in tricky high or low finishers. Street Fighter characters usually play a cleaner game by comparison, more specialized in creating space with simple pokes and sometimes projectiles.

Giving little credit to the gameís lazy trial modes and tutorial features, the training mode presents a cast with very extensive combos that make for a playground of creativity. If anyoneís body is off the ground, chances are they can be juggled with additional attacks in some way. At times itís a wonder how certain set ups manage to combo into each other, creating a lot of room for discovery at the individual level. As a Capcom fighter, the tightness of control and immediate hit satisfaction is well represented, but while it feels good to the touch, itís making sense of all the gameís wonky mechanics that players will be hung up on. Learning when the best time is to tag in for extra damage, and whether save meter or burn it, present questions the game has difficulty addressing.

Problems begin to arise when players realize the clock is running out on them, and often. With longer combos taking some time to learn, beginners may have trouble enjoying the game to its full extent, since dealing less than optimal damage can lead to time outs, and time outs are pretty lame. On the other end, when more advanced players tap into the huge damage outputs the juggle system allows for, the game suddenly seems at odds with itself. Spend 2 or 3 meters to dish out a cinematic super move Ė one of the highlights of the gameís presentation -- or deal nearly the exact same amount of damage with a raw combo. These flashy finishers -- the staple of nearly every Capcom fighter -- are consequently a much less exciting implementation. Instead of an incredibly damaging super move, itís a lengthy cutscene that might itch out a few more points of damage. This is a welcome addition for those tired of powerful comeback mechanics, but then a 5 second cinematic interruption seems pointless, other than to run to clock.

Now, there is a last ditch effort mechanic, but itís almost entirely useless. Itís called Pandora, and upon activation the character out in play is immediately K.Oíed while the second fighter then enjoys increased damage, having 8 seconds to edge out a victory before being K.Oíed as well. So, thatís 8 seconds to both close the distance and connect a winning combo. Suffice to say, itís literally suicide, and hard to believe Capcom ever found use for it in actual testing.

Several aspects of the game, like Pandora mode, clearly went into the game with little thought on how they would play out. Most prominent is the gem system, where characters are set up with a layout of 3 gems at the select screen that add temporary boost to speed, power, or defense during the match. These gems activate upon meeting unique circumstances, and last a short duration. They donít amount to much more than some minor health regeneration or gaining +10% damage for a few seconds, so at most it adds a potentially interesting layer of customization that may be noticed in deeper competitive play Ė but itís an undeniably boring feature to construct a game around.

With these mechanics either being too subtle to care about or too nonsensical to use, Street Fighter X Tekken ultimately boils down to a brutal back and forth volley of full length combos. Successfully confirm a landed hit and stretch it into as much impact as the gameís diminishing returns on damage allows for. Itís an intense affair of discipline, and the roster is one of Capcomís largest and most varied, so thereís much to learn. And truly, itís the amount of affection on the character level that keeps Street Fighter X Tekken above water. But these personalities and their beautifully rendered move sets deserved a better package, and maybe next time Capcom cuts corners, fans wonít be so keen on figuring out their problems for them.


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Community review by bbbmoney (May 02, 2012)

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zippdementia posted May 03, 2012:

Hey, this is a pretty awesome display of reviewing skills, holdthephone. You've come a long way in a short amount of time. The review is colorful and fun to read. Most impressive to me is that I completely understand what you're talking about as if I've played the game, which I haven't or any street fighter game in a long time. You did this without getting bogged down in explaining attack combos or any of that unneccessary stuff. I'll admit, I get a little lost when you describe the tag teaming... I'm not sure if you're saying that you can actually switch characters mid battle or if you can just activate a single move. Just got a bit lost in the wording there. Also, the review went on a little long. I started to drift by the time you went into a discussion of the game clock. It wasn't too bad, though. Even another picture could have helped pull me along through that. Maybe for your next review think about losing a couple paragraphs at the end. But yeah, this is great.
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bbbmoney posted May 03, 2012:

These kinds of games are more difficult to discuss than something as big as Skyrim for me, because I feel a fighter is more of a hobby for most people rather than a passing game interest. Definitely need to figure out a way to still address that issue, but still keep the review at a readable length

Doesn't help that I have a lot of competitive history with fighters, so I tend to have trouble keeping my mouth shut. I've never reviewed a fighter before and this is exactly why, haha.

Will make revisions soon.

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