Street Fighter X Tekken review
It doesn’t sound like fun because it’s not fun. The chaining aspect of Street Fighter X Tekken’s system is implemented with a huge amount of skill, but it badly needed the brakes put on it beyond a certain stage. As it is, almost half of the online fights I have degenerate into watching my poor saps get pummelled in the corner. Rolento and Rufus are among the worst offenders, capable of turning a landed jab into an endless string of blows that regularly removes over half your health bar – and these strings are not particularly difficult to execute, which makes them incredibly common.
This is not sour grapes. I’m not amazing at Street Fighter IV, but have sunk over 200 hours into it and am well-versed in the art of losing graciously. In Street Fighter X Tekken you’re often just left watching a fight rather than participating in one. Everyone would accept that if an opponent breaches your defences, they should have the opportunity to deal some heavy damage – but here the skill ceiling is so low that almost every combo can end up being a huge one. This is a fighting game where you’re often reduced to the status of punching bag.
It’s a tremendously sad misstep, because in other ways Street Fighter X Tekken is a magnificent beast. Visually it’s an astounding achievement, with more detailed versions of Street Fighter IV’s chunky brush-textured models alongside definitive treatments of the Tekken cast. The marquee characters are superb, and Namco are going to have a difficult time topping Capcom’s Heihachi and Kazuya, never mind the sensitive transformations of characters like Hwoarang. The latter is a Tae Kwon Do expert whose style pivots on the ability to change stance in an instant, which in Street Fighter X Tekken manifests in a fluid range of combo attacks and stunning midchain switches. These characters feel worth learning, worth investing your time in.
The tragedy is that the game lets them down. There are extensive singleplayer modes to practise and refine every single technique for every character, as well as an arcade mode and countless ways to customise fighters. But if the online matches aren’t fun for us to play then all the tournaments, ranking points and video channels are just so much fluff. It’s an impressive creation, but who cares?
Don’t take that to imply this is a particularly good PC version, either. Street Fighter X Tekken is, as Capcom cheerfully admit, a functionally identical port of the Xbox 360 version. Bad enough, but the 360 version was inferior to the PlayStation 3’s in the first place, lacking local co-op play (in a team fighting game!), and your five gigabyte download includes a bevvy of characters locked until Capcom graciously allow you to buy them at some point in the future. Regardless of whether Street Fighter X Tekken is the best game in the world or not, that’s a scummy tactic – and Capcom’s money-obsessed form with Street Fighter IV suggests there’s a lot more to come.
None of this would matter if the fighting was better. There are stretches of X Tekken where it seems to work perfectly, with the right combinations of characters and similarly skilled players resulting in tense standoffs where every hit counts. But it’s never too long before the loading screen shows your opponent has picked Poison and Hugo, and you know before the fight starts that they’ve memorised these characters’ simple back-and-forth chains of combos. Those low expectations are duly realised. You should be excited when a fight’s starting, not resigned.
It feels almost incredible to say it, but Street Fighter X Tekken is a bad game. It doesn’t seem like a bad game, because everything looks amazing and in your hands the controls are fluid and punchy. But as soon as you start playing online, patterns are quickly spotted, and soon they become dominant themes. Such is the time you spend unable to influence the on-screen action that Street Fighter X Tekken just feels like a big drag.
Played offline or with a mate, this is a decent scrapper. But going beyond casual play is impossible, because Street Fighter X Tekken’s clearly deep combat system is riven by an all-consuming flaw that rapidly smothers your interest. This game was given an easy ride on consoles, but don’t be taken in. That’s not a gi Ryu’s wearing – it’s the emperor’s new clothes.
Has fantastic parts, but isn’t the sum of them. Wait for the inevitable remix version, which may fix some of the problems.