Street Fighter X Tekken review for Xbox 360, PS3

Platform: Xbox 360
Also On: PS3
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Medium: DVD-Rom
Players: 1-2
Online: Yes

Street Fighter X Tekken is one of those mash-ups that I never really thought would happen, no matter how much I wanted to see it in my teenage years. But here it is, and it?s pretty damn good too! Adopting a look and feel similar to Capcom?s Street Fighter IV, you?ve got a pretty beefy roster taken from the world of Street Fighter/Capcom and the Tekken universe, making for a veritable who?s who of fan favorites. There are some absences, sure, but overall it?s a pretty good first showing.

Like Street Fighter IV, gameplay uses 3D character models on a 2D space, hyper detailed with a pretty unique art style. The Tekken characters carry over well here; I?m actually pretty fond of how guys like King and Jin look, so it?s nice to see the mash-up works well on the visual side of things.

Besides your standard Arcade, Versus, and Training modes, you?ve got online play that makes use of a tag system for SF X Tekken, so you can team up with a random internet teammate or someone from your friends list to take on another set of two opponents. You can mix and match this, so you can fight against a team controlled by two unique individuals while you control both of your characters, or go for some straight up 2 vs. 2 action.

Online play is exceptionally smooth for a game that?s only in its launch week, and I?d go so far as to say it?s the best online experience I?ve had with a Capcom fighter yet. But it?s not completely flawless, as there is a pretty significant glitch with the sound online. Basically it cuts in and out constantly, which can definitely be distracting and is most certainly annoying as hell. I don?t tend to play fighters by sound, so I can mute the volume with no problems, but I can certainly see how this would affect someone?s ?A? game. It seems like Capcom is aware of the problem and may be taking steps to fix it, but as it stands in-game sound online is pretty busted.

So how does the tag system work? Well, it?s not quite Marvel vs. Capcom style, so while both characters have their own life bar, the round is over if only one of them gets depleted. So you?ve got to be a tad more tactical in your approach to swapping out characters, which after playing Marvel takes some getting used to.

There?s some fun team specific mechanics that come into play, like Cross Combo?s that switch out characters in the middle of a string of hits. Then there?s Pandora mode, which can be executed when your life bar is down to 25 percent, and will sacrifice your teammate to make your remaining character super strong for a limited amount of time. To balance this out Pandora has a meter attached, and when that meter is depleted your remaining character dies, regardless of how much life he or she has left.

Besides the tag system, Street Fighter X Tekken incorporates the use of Gem?s, which brings a slight RPG mechanic to the table. Every character can be outfitted with up to three gems at a time, and each gem has certain abilities that it grants. Some are basic bonuses to attack or defense, others fill your Cross gauge faster, or speed up your character, and some will literally auto block or defend against throws. Mixing and matching gems is easy enough from the main menu, but the customization gets to be a little cumbersome if you?re currently playing a particular mode.

You can outfit each character with two sets, but if you need to swap gems out in those sets you?ve got to go back to the main menu to do so. Keeping the gem customization option at least within the online menu would have been nice and definitely more convenient. It?s a pretty minor complaint overall, but unless you want to waste time outfitting every single character on the roster with gems, you probably won?t find yourself switching to new characters online very often because their default gem sets are pretty basic, and only use two gem slots instead of all three for some reason.

Besides online play the Trials/Challenges set-up of Street Fighter IV and Marvel returns here. Every character on the roster has a series of challenges to complete, and it remains one of the best ways of learning the basics for a new character. It?s extremely useful for the Tekken side if you?ve not touched a Tekken game before, as a lot of the command inputs for Tekken characters are pretty unique compared to the Capcom side. I love that the Tekken characters use the inputs found in that series though, it?s pretty cool to see how well those inputs work in a 2D space.

I definitely feel like Street Fighter X Tekken is worth picking up, especially if you have any kind of interest in either side of the fence. Both rosters are great, and the online play minus the sound issues is pretty fantastic, and will automatically give this game a pretty solid online presence for months to come. The fighting will be familiar to Street Fighter IV fans, but different enough that newcomers won?t be entirely out of the loop, with some new stuff to learn through the tag mechanics. I really enjoy the game, and I look forward to whatever Namco cooks up for their version of the game down the line.

Grade: A-