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Street Fighter X Tekken (Xbox 360) Review

A meteor has brought a mystical force called “Pandora” to Earth, and now a bunch of people (And a bear) want to punch each other.  That’s pretty much all the explanation for how the characters from Street Fighter and Tekken have come together in Capcom's fighting game Street Fighter X Tekken.  The story is brief and disposable, but the game is deep and should keep fighting fans occupied for a long time.

Tekken players will have to accept that this is pretty much a Street Fighter game that has Tekken characters in it.  It uses a 2-D fighting style with projectiles but it isn’t as outlandish as the Marvel Versus Capcom games.  No super jumps or giant laser beams here; it plays a little closer to Street Fighter IV which is relatively down-to-Earth for a Capcom fighter (And made by the same developer, Dimps). Don’t worry, Tekkenites, Namco is working on their own crossover that will likely be more Tekken than Street Fighter.

The roster is huge and diverse at nearly forty characters and a dozen more coming a DLC pack.  The developers have been fair and given players an even mixture of characters from both games, yet somehow missed the chance to pit Tekken’s Bruce Lee character “Law” against “Fei Long”, Street Fighter’s version of of the same.  Hopefully Namco will rectify this when they get their shot.

Players can pick a mixture of any two from either franchise to team up for a tag-team match.  This game differs from the typical tag-team fighter in that it’s only necessary to defeat one of your opponent’s characters, instead of bringing down the entire team.   Some other new bells and whistles added to the formula are the use of a “Pandora Mode” that gives losing players a last ditch effort to win by sacrificing one of their characters for a temporary burst of super powers.  Alas, Pandora mode is fatal to the character using it if the player can’t win before the timer runs out.

Another unique feature is a “Gem system”. I happened to be present live when it was announced, and an audible groan went up from the crowd when it was explained that these gems are collectible items that provide temporary boosts to abilities when certain conditions are met during a match. Hypothetically this lets players balance their weak points.  For example an inexperienced player could use gems that give them extra resistance and are activated simply by taking hits.  However, since gems can be purchased with real-world money as DLC packs, this also means that there are well-financed power-players who can use powerful gems to Min/Max their characters.

Since launch, there has been some other DLC too, such as an alternate costume for every character.  While players are only getting one costume for free, there have been several “Color Palette” add-ons which allow players to customize the colors of their character’s skin, habit clothing and accessories.  More than just a change of clothes, this system lets players do things like give Hugo green skin and purple pants, making him look like the Hulk, and his girlfriend Poison could be given a palette swap to turn her into Roxy (For Final Fight fans who get the reference).  This plus the gem system means that there’s a great deal of variety in online play.

The online has a few interesting features, including a tag-team system for four-on-four matches.  There’s also the fighting game equivalent of “Drop-in, Drop-out” in that players can start a single-player arcade game, but leave it open to the public so that players online can join in for head-to-head fighting at any moment.  This harkens back to the old days in the arcades when people could challenge other players in mid-game.  The population is very high even now a couple of months after release and opening a game to the public results in a nonstop flood of new challengers.

Unfortunately, Xbox users have lost out when it comes to the character roster.  Playstation 3 gamers get a bunch of extra characters from Sony and Namco franchises, while Xbox gets no such treatment.  Capcom has promised that twelve new playable characters are on their way later this year, and that will bring the total number of characters to a whopping fifty!

The current pile of characters shouldn’t leave players wanting for more, though.  They include the standard crop of martial artists, but also a bear, a ballerina and best of all, a transsexual dominatrix.

This is a fighting game with some unusual and distinct features.  The genre tends to be very hardcore, but Street Fighter X Tekken is relatively accessible to new players thanks to the gems and Pandora system, plus some simplified super attacks.  The more serious fighting fans should enjoy seeing these franchises get shaken up a bit, and newcomers will certainly get a kick out of making this eclectic group of fighters duke it out.



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