Street Fighter consistently lives up to its reputation for numerous, highly polished and wonderfully competitive beat’em’up action games. Street Fighter x Tekken is certainly no exception. With licencing permissions from Namco and game design from Capcom, Street Fighter x Tekken melds two of our most beloved fighter franchises together for the first time, in the art style of the previous 3D Street Fighter games. A complex, highly customisable and very pretty game, Street Fighter x Tekken surpasses any doubts I had about the mash-up and offers players of all backgrounds an opportunity for vibrant and in depth player vs player combat; with numerous stories for character combinations in the arcade arena for those who prefer to play alone.

Naturally tag-teaming

Street Fighter x Tekken features tag-team gameplay as standard, with players able to chose two of the venerable characters from each series at the start of every battle. You can switch out characters as in previous Tekken games if you want to use a specific move or character, or to avoid any damage on a character who’s nearly down. If playing with four people, each person can grab a player and work in cooperative pairs of two – but be careful, since the round is over as soon as one player from either team is knocked out. This means that you need to sync perfectly and work tactically, adding another layer of depth to the gameplay in combat modes. This feature works really well, even for casual gamers, since those who can’t get to grips with the numerous combo’s for both sides have another mechanic to focus on – so gameplay can never really just be about button bashing.

The game also features new customisation options, with the ability to buff or gem your characters for added effect – improving strength, etc. This is all conducted in the feature rich customization options menu. Along with the gem system, you’re able to change the colours of your fighters costumes to give you some uniqueness in online matches. Although not as extensive as Soul Calibur V‘s very extensive features, it’s a step in the right direction, allowing players to stand out a little.

Can I take a meter reading?

Gameplay is compromised of Street Fighter and Tekken specific combo moves, orchestrated with use of the three kick, or three punch buttons and the directional stick or d-pad. In the vein of all things trinity, the energy meter (formally EX meter, etc) has three sections which full up quickly in combat. When full, you can unleash super arts moves and EX combo’s with new additions and special moves from the older games. This bar also decides when you can tag in your cooperative player or character, so use of this (and monitoring the bar) is an integral part of successful game-play.

Following the incredibly complex yet successful attempt to integrate less hardcore players, without alienating veterans, you’ll notice a sort of dual layer integrity in all of the characters. It’s easy enough to pull off some strong special moves without necessarily looking at the list and learning them. For instance, down-right with an X or B usually pulls off some kind of projectile. Although this won’t get you too far in multiplayer matches, it does feel as though the game isn’t just a button bashing mess in single player. It means that not-so hardcore players can play competently without too much research – although, if you do want to get better there is a training mode. You can also reduce the complexity of combos to just a few button presses, but this has a greater effect on your power meter and can also induce other negative effects for a short time.

Arcade mode doesn’t feature the classic CGI tales from Tekken, quite to the same extent – but it does offer stories for each of the  ‘official’ tag teams you chose, with whimsical humor and introductions. Arcade mode is fairly self explanatory, and it’s generally what you’d expect it to be – but Street Fighter x Tekken allows you to tailor make your experience quite easily, with difficulty settings independent from single player at the start. For instance, because there is drop-in multiplayer, when starting a single player arcade story mode you’re given the opportunity to set the parameters for multiplayer matches, should you be joined at any moment. Of course, you can decline the game drop-in and continue to play on your own. If you accept, however, you can pick new characters and play against your new opponent. If you chose to do this, though, you can’t back out. There is no way to prematurely quit a match.

There’s a great introductory mode for new players to the franchise (or indeed the genre): Tutorial mode. Tutorial mode is where new players can learn about the game, its various mechanics, and combo moves for every character.

Multiplayer and conclusion

I don’t know what it is about fighting games and terrible net-code, but they always seem to have it. It wouldn’t be fair for me to claim that Street Fighter x Tekken is completely stable, since there have been reports that it isn’t – but I didn’t actually experience any lag issues myself. In fact, the drop in games I had went very well (although I lost 100% of them) with little to no lag what-so-ever. I don’t know if this is due to patches or my 110mb connection, but whatever it was I wasn’t given a bitter platter of connection issues like others. I give it a cautiously optimistic seal of approval from that view.

As with most Street Fighter games, if you’re going to go online you’d better make sure you know what you’re doing. Although Capcom have made a valiant effort to make the game playable for those of us who aren’t Street Fighter veterans, they can’t do much about the skills of their demographic. It didn’t seem to matter what rank I was fighting against (or, ‘bp’) I always seemed to be faced with someone who knew all the moves, and how to use them. I wouldn’t say this put me off playing on-line, but I’m fairly sure I’d have more fun playing with 2-4 people at home with a few beers and a pizza – just like good old times.

All in all, though, Street Fighter x Tekken is a supremely well polished and optimized game, with great visuals for the PC. It’s a great port over with very little problems, and my average frames on a mid-range rig was about 300fps. It looked good for what it was, and although I’m not a mega-fan of the art-style, it’s an improvement of the over bloomy SFIV. It’s vibrant, fun, and entertaining – just what you want in a game like this. The host of new features for both old and new players alike complement each-other perfectly, and I am confident that new and old fans alike will appreciate Street Fighter x Tekken at almost every level.