Two of the biggest fighting game franchises of all time are going head to head in a 2 on 2 tag team battle to decide once and for all who is the best fighter in the world. What brought these two franchises together? Well a box from outer space code named Pandora has landed on Earth and now the Shadowloo Organization lead by M. Bison and the Mishima Zaibatsu Company are after it. This of course leads to encounters of the best fighters from both franchises trying to control whatever power this Pandora’s Box has to offer. Not an overly interesting story, and honestly it doesn’t really matter what the story is because as with all fighting games it really is all about the combat.
Street Fighter X Tekken plays like a Street Fighter game. Three levels of punches and kicks are given to each character along with special moves, counters, super arts and chargeable attacks which the player uses to defeat their enemy. What makes it so interesting is the mechanics behind a new tag team system. Players choose two characters to fight with from across the Street Fighter and Tekken rosters. Some characters are just made to work together like Ken and Ryu or Heihachi Mishima and his bear Kuma. Unlike Marvel vs Capcom it doesn’t matter how much life your secondary character has. If either of your characters is defeated it’s a KO and you move onto the next round.
Chargeable attacks are pulled off by going through the control motion and then holding the button and charge it up, eventually unleashing one of three levels of the attack. These leave you open while you charge them, but if they fully land they cause a devastating loss of health to who they connect with. You can also build up a meter that allows you to pull off a Super Arts move. These moves are even more powerful and show off the explosive nature of the game. Super Arts are over the top moves like super powered up Hadkoukens that could cause an epileptic fit in anyone. In short, they’re awesome.
Tagging is the biggest highlight of the game and a welcome addition to the nature of Street Fighter. Match ups are now more thought out and tactical. Choosing different style characters allow high level play and adaptation to any situation. The game isn’t totally balanced yet, but it allows for players to rethink any situation when a character is a little too strong. Players are able to combo into a switch and chain the attacks from one character to the next hopefully resulting a giant loss of health to their opponent. Switching out characters also allows characters to build some health back up. But it’s also caused a bit of a pickle when it comes to timed fights.
When playing online (which I will rant about in a bit) I’ve discovered that with the ability to regain health, work with twice as much health in the same amount of time as a regular round (90 seconds), that many matches end with a time out and a decision on who has the most health rather than an actual conclusion. This feels awkward and throws off the rhythm of the game a bit. With twice as much health to juggle around and such tactical play a round might need to be extended. I’m wondering if Capcom thought that their new Pandora mechanic would be the reason players wouldn’t have to worry about this. Pandora is an attack boost that’s used when one of the players characters is under 25% health. The remaining character takes the health, uses it as an attack but if they can’t win the round before Pandora runs out they lose the fight. It’s a high risk-high reward system that I have yet to see a player use successfully or even try to pull off.
Then we come to the net code and online play. I’ll put it out there like this. As of the time of this writing the net code for Street Fighter X Tekken is complete garbage. I don’t like using strong statements like that in my reviews but it really is horrible. When playing online, the two or more players lose most of the sound other than the music, have giant lapses in frames, stuttering and speeding up and more. This is a broken net code that makes the game horrible to play online. It may be because of the nature of SFxT’s new tag mechanic which actually allows for 2 on 2 play. Two players can play on each side so when the tag comes another player steps in and takes control of the secondary character. This is very much like the 2 on 2 mechanic of last year’s Mortal Kombat. It’s fun to play in person but it’s resulting in horrible online experiences in any mode.
When playing the regular arcade mode you have the option to battle random strangers looking for a fight. I tried this, as I welcomed it in Street Fighter 4 (and all it’s later iterations) and here I found myself wondering if I was going up against people with horrible connections. Nope.. just horrible net code in general. What’s even stranger is that when watching a match and waiting in a lobby, the viewers can hear all the sounds of every move, but the two players actually engaging in the match can’t. Sounds cut in and out like some one was messing with a volume nob or the mute button. It’s distracting, horrible and often I find myself playing on mute if I play online at all, which is just frustrating.
There is a chance for it to be fixed in the future and I fully expect it to be fixed, but when contemplating a purchase as of this moment, I wouldn’t factor in how much you’d play online… it just isn’t fun. That being said, battles on a single system are fun and fluid and some of the best fighting game experiences I’ve had in a long time. I honestly like it more than Street Fighter 4.
There are the requisite training modes, versus, online and arcade modes which are pretty bare bones. The tutorial is entertaining and a smart addition as it gives 10 quick lessons that let the player in on the new mechanics behind the game like comboing up into harder attacks and how to chain together attacks into a launcher that lets players switch characters. Arcade mode only tells the most interesting stories when players play as characters that are meant to go together, which are easily paired on the character select screen. Oh and when I say interesting, I just mean cut scenes that are designed and well thought out. Oddly I haven’t found any that pair Street Fighter and Tekken characters together, which I thought would be a focal part of the game. There really is a division in place keeping the characters separate in story and attitude.
Over all the terrible net code and lack of modes really keep this game from excelling. It is fun and I do enjoy playing it, but you can only play against your buddies on the couch for so long before wanting to play against some one new and with the netcode the way it is, that’s just not going to be a good experience.