The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Aside from their fundamental “beat up dudes until they get knocked out” concepts, Street Fighter and Tekken couldn’t be more different. One of the most interesting things about Street Fighter X Tekken is how Capcom mined elements from both series and repurposed them to create something that feels different.
I went into the game thinking I’d stick with my tried and true favorites from Street Fighter, but I quickly warmed to Tekken’s roster. Tekken doesn’t have much in the way of projectile attacks, but its characters don’t needlessly suffer when matched against Capcom’s Hadouken-happy opponents. Instead, they can sidestep these attacks (sticking to the 2D plane), and close the gap. Throw distances have also been shortened up, a move that seems to benefit Namco’s brawlers. When they’re toe-to-toe with the Street Fighter clan, I found warriors such as Yoshimitsu and Bob more than able to dish out the KOs.
Unlike games in Capcom’s versus series, matches in Street Fighter X Tekken end when a single fighter from a team is downed. It took me a while to get used to this Tekken Tag Tournament convention; I’d grown embarrassingly complacent in the tagging department over the years, which led to plenty of losses here early on. Once I wised up and appreciated the critical importance of swapping out damaged fighters at the earliest sensible opportunity, my luck improved.
Two new systems in particular are bound to soak up a lot of playtime. The Gem System lets players modify their characters by equipping up to three optional items. These can slightly increase your character’s on-the-ground movement or the speed with which he builds up his Cross Gauge, for instance. New players will appreciate scrub-friendly gems that automatically block attacks or prevent opponents from performing throws. Gems require specific amounts of Cross Gauge energy, and you’re out of luck when it’s depleted. The system is poorly documented, which actually could work in its favor. I expect that players will be tinkering with gems for the foreseeable future, trying to optimize loadouts for their specific styles of play.
Characters can also enter a Pandora mode when their health is reduced to 25 percent. After turning into a bizarre dark version of themselves, characters are rewarded with a nearly limitless Cross Gauge. It’s not an “I win” button though, considering that characters have less than 10 seconds to finish off their opponent or the match is lost. I didn’t have much success using Pandora. When things had gone that sour for me in a match, adding a countdown clock didn’t make my life any easier—even with Cross Gauge to spare.
Capcom’s been touting the game’s accessibility for a while now, but even with auto-blocking gems, it’s clear that this game is for the fans. You can still have a lot of fun even if you can barely pull off any advanced techniques –particularly in the game’s chaotic, four-player simultaneous Scramble mode – but there’s an incredible amount of depth in this game. The highly technical nature of Street Fighter X Tekken ensures that only the truly skilled survive (button mashers, sit this one out). Even when I got smeared across the floor online, I was more appreciative of my opponent’s skill than angry at my own deficiencies. It’s been a while since I’ve felt inspired to actually train and get better in a fighting game rather than simply move on, which is to Street Fighter X Tekken’s credit.
If you’re a casual player looking for some throwaway fighting fun, this isn’t for you—especially if you like playing online against strangers. On the other hand, moderate to hardcore players are going to find a lot to absorb in Street Fighter X Tekken, and players with patience will be rewarded for it.
Email the author Jeff Cork, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.