Let’s get this out of the way first: Street Fighter X Tekken is a solid fighting game that makes some small, but welcome improvements to the tried and tested formula of Capcom fighting games. The tag style gameplay is good, the fighting system is fun, and the Tekken characters seem balanced with their Street Fighter opponents. However, what should be an unquestionably superb fighter is marred by technical and interface issues, as well as some unfortunate business practices. Normally I would not address business issues, as I don’t think they have a place in determining the quality of the product, but in this particular case the business has affected the games balance and playability. Even though the gameplay is solid the, these problems combined with the Tekken’s cast seeming lack of diversity makes me question why this game was made. It is still too complex for new players and too unbalanced for high level play. The Tekken characters don’t bring anything new to the series and all play like different variations of Street Fighter rush characters like Sakura. Although I had a lot of fun with SFXT, it is hard for me to recommend it, especially with a Super or Ultimate edition likely to be released in the near future.
Street Fighter X Tekken is, as the title suggests, a combination of the gameplay of the two franchises. All the characters, of which there are 43 in the PlayStation version and 38 in the Xbox one, are mostly in the 2D, six-button Street Fighter style, with dragon punch, fireball, and hurricane kick inputs. The throw system, however, is from the Tekken series. In addition to the SF inputs the Tekken characters also make use of button combos/special moves and stance changes, which differentiates them somewhat from the Street Fighter characters and makes them somewhat unique. These characters also lack projectiles, but there are plenty of ways for the fighters to counter them so the balance is fine.
The real problem is that I had no real incentive to go play as Tekken fighters. All the Tekken characters have uppercuts and I just ended up spamming those moves over and over. I am much more familiar and comfortable with the Street Fighter roster and it seems to have more diversity. The Tekken characters fit into a role that I don’t particularly care for. I ended up having to force myself to play with them rather than naturally fitting them into my play. The tag system in the game is based off the Tekken model: if one character goes down the fight ends. This places a greater emphasis on managing your tags and making sure you don’t get careless and lose a fighter. There are a large number of ways to tag, which I could see being very confusing for a new player. Tagging is activated by pressing both medium attack buttons at the same time, but it can be easy to accidentally activate a tag when trying to perform the Cross Rush, which is the game’s version of an ultra. There are other ways to tag in players too, such as combos and Cross Cancels. Commands for supers have been simplified, which makes the game a lot easier to pick up and play, but still require familiarity with the fireball and dragon punch system. When you lose enough health you can activate Pandora mode, which buffs your damage and speed at the cost of one of your characters, but when the timer runs out you lose the match. I have found very little use for this, as the timer is too short and the boost too small. Two more minor systems have been added. Each character has one move that can be charged into an EX version and then a super. Activating moves this way uses no meter, but takes a while to do. You can also activate a quick combo, which automatically executes a simple combo, at the expense of one bar of meter. Just like Pandora mode, I didn’t really make much use of these features as the cost is just too high.
The other major change to the game is the gem system. There are two types of gems, boost and assist gems. Boost gems make up the majority of your selection, and are essentially buffs that activate as you fulfill certain criteria during a match. Assist gems are always active and do things like automatically preventing throws. Assist gems do have severe drawbacks, like reduced damage, that help balance the system. Unfortunately the default gem sets for every character only utilize two of the three spots, meaning you need to edit the gem set if you want to get any real use out of the character. The edit menu can’t be accessed from the character select screen, which is quite annoying, and makes the whole thing much more of a hassle then it needs to be. The gems can be quite useful, so you can’t just ignore it. This is also the first time the business model begins to hurt the game, as the exclusive pre-order and collector’s edition gems can give you significantly more options. They are somewhat balanced by either taking up two slots or having more difficult activation requirements, but it still hurts the balance of the game, at least until the gems are made available to everyone, as a player without these gems will have fewer and less powerful gems.
SFXT packs the standard modes we have come to expect in fighting games. There arcade, training, versus, trial, and online modes. All modes work as you would expect them too. The arcade mode provides very little story or context, and if you play with a non-standard team, there are no cut scenes. Trial and tutorial mode do a good job of teaching you the basics of both your character and the game. However, you still need to spend a lot of time in the training room before you are ready to take on another person. It does not feel like Capcom did enough to help new players and it is disappointing to see that they still have not figured out a good way to introduce new players to the genre without forcing them to spend hours in perfecting their inputs. These modes are slightly better than they are in other games, but there are leagues to go before they can be considered adequate.
The online is the weak link here and is the only mode that is worse than I expect it to be. At first glance it seems to be fine, but even the best connections don’t feel right. The timing for hits and blocks is off slightly and sometimes it feels as though my inputs were lost in the ether of the internet. This issue is compounded by a strange bug on both the Xbox and PS3 version of the game, where the vast majority of the hits and character voices don’t activate no matter how good the connection is. It is surprising how jarring this really is, but it can have a significant impact upon your play. While the basic framework of SFXT is solid, there are just too many issues surrounding it to make it an excellent fighting game
The presentation of SFXT is really the only part of the game that I have no issues with. The characters look great, and are in the Street Fighter IV style. This means they look almost like the concept art was made directly into 3D models without removing pen marks or ink. All the hits produce satisfying sounds and cool effects which make pulling off a long combo even more satisfying. Animations are equally well done, and all the characters move fluidly. The camera shifts during throws and supers, making the fighting feel a lot more dynamic. I never ran into any performance issues when playing local matches, but online play suffers on all but the best connections.
I had a lot of fun with Street Fighter X Tekken. I enjoyed the sped up version of the Street Fighter IV gameplay system and playing as the Tekken characters was really interesting at first. My enjoyment was considerably hampered by the awful online, which kills any real desire I have to continue playing this game. The tag system is neat, the game looks great, and there is a large roster of fun characters, but too many of them, especially the Tekken ones, are irrelevant and I just ended up playing a sped up version of SF IV with worse net code. At the end of the day I would rather play Third Strike, Mortal Kombat, or King of Fighters as they not only have better fighting systems, but mostly better net code.
This is a solid fighting game, and I do mean solid. The systems in place are cool, but business, including twelve on disc characters that are locked as DLC, balance, and technical issues make it hard for me to recommend this game to anyone. Hardcore players will go back to better games and new players will still have trouble understanding or getting into the game. The likely hood that Capcom will just release a new version in a year or so anyway with fixes for the technical issues and all the DLC unlocked, makes SFXT an even worse value. Capcom has put out a partially broken full retial game. I had fun with it despite its flaws, but $60 is too much to ask for what this game is.