The lights are on
Super Street Fighter 4.5: Arcade Tag Edition is the latest full priced expansion in Capcoms recent 2d fighting de-evolution. It fails to compete with Mortal Kombat or Tekken 6 in terms of content and fun, Street Fighter 4 or BlazBlu in terms of refinement and precision , and Marvel vs. Capcom 3 in terms of ... well... almost everything.
*points and laughs*
On a truly personal level, I cannot write this review without pointing out that Marvel vs. Capcom 3 was better than this game, and that this game is solely responsible its demise. It will likely kill Street Fighter 4, as well. I do not deny that my own personal bias plays heavily into these statements, and that many people will disagree with what I have to say.
Still...I am right. They are wrong. I will get into why a little later, but first lets review this damn game.
Yoshiro Ono has done what he does best: crafted another fine addition to the Street Fighter family. Notice that I say Street Fighter and NOT Tekken, because the truth remains that this game is through and through a Street Fighter game. The fact that half of the roster (and some of the tag mechanic) is...inspired... by Tekken is about as close as the relation ever gets. The Tekken side of the roster is fresh, new and exciting, but Tekken fans will likely pick this game up and put it down the instant Tekken Tag 2 hits the shelves.
The game looks like Street Fighter, sounds like Street Fighter. The menus are just a modified version of Street Fighter 4, complete with identical theme music and sound effects. Trial and Challenge mode are both just derivatives of previous Street Fighters. When you win via super move, the screen and sound effects are exactly the same as Street Fighter. Even some of the moves and style of the Tekken characters are lifted directly from absent Street Fighter characters. The character models and animations seem identical to their original Street Fighter versions, albeit a little less detailed or refined. Maybe..."toned down" is a better way to put it.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. I am simply being honest. In the games defense, Tekken Tag Tournament did pretty much the same exact thing over a decade ago, and that game was glorious. Much like Tekken Tag, this game pretty much dwarfs its source game almost completely, making any copy of Street Fighter 4 seem...very tradable.
Street Fighter fans will embrace this game as the finest one ever created. Ono has evolved the Street Fighter formula way beyond what players once dreamed possible, and still kept it simple enough to understand and execute as long as the player knows how to throw a fireball. In fact, it is pretty safe to say that the game features a much more forgiving learning curve than any other 2d fighter out there.
Ono has also crafted an extremely clever (and very risky) comeback strategy with "Pandora mode", which sacrifices one character and gives the player about 8-seconds of infinite "super meter". If the time runs out...they lose. It sounds very underwhelming but the activation is beautifully dramatic, and a victory via Pandora is easily as awesome as landing an Instant Kill in the original Guilty Gear. Trash talk is destined to ensue...
The tag system stands as the games centerpiece, and rightfully so. Two friends are able to team up and compete with two other friends, using tags to dance and switch in a ballet of Street Fighter awesomeness. A team can even spend their entire meter to allow both players to hop on screen and bash the crap out of their opponent, creating a heart pounding and riveting sense of cooperative play. This really is the best Street Fighter game I have ever played.
On that same note is the games greatest (and most catastrophic) achievement: Scramble Mode. In Scramble Mode, two friends team up against two other friends, and ALL FOUR players stay on the screen at once. The mode is totally insane, and an absolute blast with friends or online.
Online, the games structure excels but the execution is a frustrating and slightly disappointing affair. Matchmaking in ranked mode feels decidedly more sluggish than in Marvel vs. Capcom or Street Fighter 4, and the rematch option is mysteriously absent. Even worse is the current sound and latency issues. The game sports more lag than the two afformentioned Capcom fighters, and the sound just...cuts out...whenever.
CRASH! CRACK! BLAM!
What does Capcom have to say about this? Simple: it is Microsoft and Sonys fault. OH, and they also cannot fix the issue because it will create latency issues...
PSST! There already are latency issues.
This is actually the perfect segway into what I think makes this the weakest of all of Capcoms recent fighting games: Capcom itself. Behavior that began with Street Fighter 4, and worsened with Marvel vs. Capcom 3, has truly exploded into suspicious territory with Street Fighter x Tekken.
Twelve...count em...twelve fighters on the disc are simply locked, and must be purchased. What else is there? Around 100 Costumes, the full range of customizable colors, gems that provide buffs, some stages...the list goes on. Fans who were forced to dump $100-$150 a piece on Street Fighter 4 and Marvel vs. Capcoms content are now being forced to DO IT AGAIN. The games designer trumpeted customization as the future of fighting, but if you do not fork out the dough...you get two colors, some gems, eight stages, and 75% of the roster.
Anyone reading this review probably knows what I am talking about: It has become quite an issue in the media. Detractors (and Capcom ) have gone as far as to say that fans are just being greedy, and complain too much. Outraged fans all sing the same thing in unison: "Capcom is killing the industry".
Well, they all have it wrong. The fans are not being greedy: Capcom is being greedy. They are they are killing their own franchise- NOT the industry. They are simply destroying their own financial and commercial integrity via shoddy incomplete products, and bad customer relations. Capcom will probably not suffer, but the fighting genre will again be destroyed and lay dormant for another decade.
Does this figure into the Street Fighter x Tekkens overall quality? Absolutely.
When compared with a game like...say...Tekken 6, Mortal Kombat, or (even though it isnt a fighter) the recent SSX: all of Capcoms fighters are a failure. The developers of the former games dump content and quality all over its fans, and have reaped insane revenues as a result while fans beg for DLC. Conversely, Capcoms games are all selling....decently. Street Fighter and Marvel both sold a few million copies total...and SFxTekken will probably perform on or under par.
Street Fighter x Tekken, despite being the best Street Fighter installment, is just a mod of Street Fighter 4 marketed as a complete game, and sold with over a fourth of its total content locked away in the name of profit. Just like Street Fighter, and ESPEICALLY like Marvel v Capcom, this game COULD
COULD have been legendary. Instead it is simply passing the time as fighting fans await Haradas Next Tekken, Skullgirls, Dead or Alive 5, and so on. A game that could have broken new ground and magnetized a few million more fans to the fighting genre has instead alienated and insulted its core fanbase, while barely impressing people on the fence. This game is the definition of bad business.
If you like Street Fighter, if you have friends who like Street Fighter, if you are interested in getting into Street Fighter, or are just hankering for some good, casual, fighting fun...buy this game. WELL...okay, buy this game in like...six months or a year...when the full content is unlocked and Capcoms lousy sales force them to sell the whole thing as a full game for probably 40 bucks.
Street Fighter x Tekken is a great game, but it is also an underwhelming game as far as the genre is concerned. Capcoms producers are guilty of not understanding how to wow the crowd, and they fail to see the power of word of mouth. They could be using their fighters to create an entire culture of fans. Instead, they did not even want Street Fighter 4 to get made in the first place, and after it succeed still do not have the faith required to maintain its popularity. Instead they are destroying it with oversaturation and unethical business practices.
In conclusion, and defense of jaded Capcom fans, I want you to consider the following story as a perfect metaphor for WHY exactly Capcom fans deserve better, and why Street Fighter x Tekken kind of sucks:
Resident Evil 4 is heralded as one of the greatest games ever made. What a lot of people do not know about it is that Capcom originally designed it as just another Resident Evil. ANOTHER cash-in like Nemesis and Code Veronica. After several years of development hell, Shinji Mikami, the games producer (and creator of Resident Evil), took over development of the game and AGAINST CAPCOMS ENDLESS WISHES, reworked the game and changed the series formula. This is one of the only times in the history of Capcoms games that the company allowed a creator to do this. They were not allowed to directly interfere with its development. Even a year before the game was released, Capcom was pressuring Mikami
to finish it and release it. They consistently threatened to fire him.
After Resident Evil 4, Mikami left Capcom and started his own studio. He has given countless interviews about how bad it was to deal with them, and how they constantly argued with him every time he wanted to put more content into the game.
Think about it.
You forgot to praise the game for only having 15% of its roster being RYU clones as opposed to SF4's 25%.