If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Alright, before we start this review let's just deal with the elephant in the room. Yes, Capcom has included 12 characters on the game, meaning they were ready when the game came out and they easily could have already included them, but instead are making you pay extra for them. And yes, that is somewhat messed up to say the least. Although I will say that I'm very happy with how the entire gaming community has sort of come out as one against this practice this time and might cause gaming companies to rethink it.
Now that that's out of the way, I assure you that the actual review itself will only have to do with the game we have been given and I will not take any points away or judge it any further for Capcom including a big magnet with this game that sucks the cash from my pocket (that's how magnets work right?)
Normally in a game I'd start off with the Pros, because I'm a positive guy darn it. But after writing this down I realized that with this particular review for some reason going out on the Cons left kind of a sour taste in my mouth. So let's go ahead and get the dirty work out of the way first.
Now when it comes to fighting games I'm normally in the camp of "Story Mode doesn't have to be that deep." Stories in fighting games typically are there for one reason, to give you an excuse for why crazy characters are beating the crap out of each other. However, last year Mortal Kombat kind of raised the bar and showed us that you can indeed have a story inside of a fighting game, and if there is any game that should have a deeper story than the one we're given, it's this one.
Think about it, in Street Fighter we have Shadaloo and S.I.N. two evil criminal organizations with massive military level might. In Tekken we have the Mishima Zaibatsu, an evil corporation with massive military level might. Then take into account that each Street Fighter and Tekken game has centered around the idea of a massive global tournament. Take all these factors and what's the storyline about in this game? Mystery box falls from the sky and everyone wants it.
Now I'm not going to sit here and pitch you my idea for the perfect storyline for this game, but I will say "Really?" There is so much you could have done for a storyline here, and they didn't. Sure, a few years ago this story would have been fine, but as I said the standards are different now.
And I can't help but point out the laziness that goes into the character endings. If you beat the game with a specific pairing then yes, you get a special ending for them, but for any other combination your ending is just one blank page with some text on it describing the ending for the first character you pick. No cinema, not even a single still image, just a black background and one page of text. You mean to tell me you couldn't have gotten even just one picture drawn for the character endings? Maybe lazy is too strong of a word, but it's at least a tad negligent. Same thing could be said for the character "Rival Battles." Some of the Rival Battles actually make sense, I can totally see why these characters would specifically want to fight one another. But seventy five percent of these Rival Battles start with "Hey, you there, what's up with your face?" "How dare you, defend yourself!" Once again, a few years ago the fighting game community would have looked at that and went "Yeah sure, works for me." But now we want more, now we look at these cinematics and think "that's what makes you their rival? Shouldn't those just be the normal battle interactions?" I mean just to give an example, you've got Guile and Abel, two guys who are dedicated to hunting down evil organizations (of which, as I said, there is no lack of in this game) and their rival match is with Heihachi because Abel wants to pet his bear. Once again, really? That's the best you got?
Now I like the idea of having pairings in this game like in Tekken Tag Tournament, it helps find some kind of a common ground in the different styles of gameplay. And I like that if you pick a specific team then they have their own unique intros and interactions. However, just like with my complaints with the story, this would have been enough a few years ago. But last year Marvel Vs Capcom 3 came out, and in there each character has a dozen unique character specific interactions, depending on who you're fighting beside, or who you're up against. And that's one of the things I loved about that game, because it really showed that they wanted to go above and beyond with just the little things.
But in this game each character has one character that they can be partners with, and that's fine, it makes sense, but it could have been so much more. I'm not saying they had to give us specific interactions and pairings for every character with every other character, that's completely insane, nobody could ask for that... but at least two or three would have been nice. And I have to admit that when we have a game that's all about crossing over Street Fighter and Tekken, it would have been really nice if we could have seen some pairings between the two sides, especially when some of them make way more sense than the pairings we're given (Ibuki and Raven, both ninjas. Christie and Elena, both Capoeira fighters. Just saying.)
Now granted, I know that this fall we have Tekken X Street Fighter coming out, the sequel to this, and maybe they were planning all along that in this one you'd only get pairings between characters from the same series, and in the next one you'd get more of a crossover feel, so I'm not really going to hold it against them for now. Plus as I said, it's not like the teams are all that bad as they are, just that these days we kind of want more from a sixty dollar purchase.
Okay, the other two complaints so far I know are probably just a personal thing that not everyone is going to share. But Pandora Mode? Wow, hey A for effort Capcom. Thanks for trying something new, major props for attempting to come up with something that would provide a unique twist on the gameplay... but hooboy did it not work. For those of you who haven't played the game, Pandora Mode is where if one of your characters has less than twenty five percent life, you can sacrifice them in order to give your other character a short boost of energy by filling up your Cross Gauge (your energy meter). Sounds like an interesting twist right? Yeah here's the downside. Pandora Mode only last for about seven seconds, and once that time is up you instantly lose. And you might be thinking "Well yeah, but I have infinite energy in that time, so I just really need to pull off one Hyper combo and I'll win right?" Yeah here's the thing, in this game when you pull off your big super moves it goes into a cinematic if you connect... but the Timer doesn't stop during the cinematic. And you know how long most cinematics last? More than seven seconds. I have played online a number of times, and I have seen so many people lose by going into Pandora Mode, then having their opponent just simply jump backwards for seven seconds and bam, instant death. And the sad thing is I bet half those people didn't even mean to go into Pandora Mode, because if you want to do your big crossover attack, those commands are really similar to the commands you have to pull off to do Pandora Mode. So yes, good effort Capcom, and all those characters sure do look cool when they turn into human black lights, but this little gameplay element needs to be absent from the sequel.
The Gem System
This is going to be a super divisive gameplay element. Basically the gem system is you can unlock "gems" through playing the game, and you can attach three of these gems to each character and customize them with different abilities that activate under different circumstances. For example, you can give them a gem that ups their attack by ten percent for fifteen seconds if you have blocked ten attacks, or if you have connected with five attacks, or so on and so on. Or you can equip a gem that keeps your character from being thrown during a match, but they move slower throughout the match. It's an interesting gameplay element, however it seems like it should have been optional, like you could turn it on or off or request matches online without gems, because as I've said, some people are going to like this and some people are going to hate it, so the fact that you don't have a choice in the matter seems kind of like a poor choice. It reminds me of the cards in UMVC3, which did the same thing, but it was only available in one certain gameplay mode because they knew not everyone would like it.
Also, I know I said I wouldn't bring this up again, but Capcom has already said they're releasing some super powerful gems that you have to pay for and that's the the only way you can get them. Okay, special characters you have to pay for? Don't like it but fine. But just fork out the cash to become a better player? Yeah I'm sorry, that's garbage. All I can picture now is the online gaming community turning into an 80s movie where the rich kids win everything.
Okay enough of the negatives (although I'll admit I could have gone way deeper into some nit picks, but I won't), because despite what you might be thinking after reading all that, I actually did like this game.
The Gem System
Wait, didn't I just say that this was a Con in the game? Yes, yes I did. I also said it was super divisive because some people would like it and some would hate it. And I kind of did both of those. I think it's a super neat gameplay element that makes for hours of customizable fun, and even though I do wish you had the option to turn it on or off, I still mostly liked it.
There are some new things in this game when it comes to customizing your characters that I haven't seen before in a fighting game, and I have to admit I kind of dig it. Like in Street Fighter you always had the American version of the game have a full English Voice Cast and the Japanese version had a full Japanese Voice Cast, where as in Tekken in all versions of the game some characters spoke Japanese and some spoke English. So they came up with an interesting little compromise where you can actually choose character to character who speaks what, you can go through and alter each character's voice individually to give you the actor you like best for the rolls, which I think is pretty neat.
And I also enjoyed that you aren't given preset alternate colors for your character, you can actually create your own personal custom color. Granted so far there are almost no colors to choose from, but Capcom has said they will be releasing additional colors later as free DLC (now replace "colors" with "characters" and all will be forgiven). Although it does raise the question of "why not just wait until you have all the colors ready to release this?" Seriously is March such a big time for the game community that you couldn't wait another month to finish that? But whatever, I still like the idea there.
Okay, I know I've gone on and on about my little problems with this game, but in the end this is a fighting game, and what is most important in a fighting game? The fighting, of course (what did you think I was going to say?). And gosh darn it, aside from Pandora Mode, this game got it right. All the combat feels smooth and the controls are very responsive. It's fast but not crazy fast like MVC, just enough to match the craziness of the characters and settings. You can button mash and still do alright, but you can also do your homework and do much better, but unlike MVC3 you don't have to be a scientist to memorize a two hundred hit combo that will instantly kill your opponent and make online gameplay fun for nobody.
All the cross moves are just right for this style of fighting, with multiple different ways of bringing characters in to create a string of combos (especially air combos for all you Tekken fans). Then there are new elements to the game, like Quick Combos where you can sacrifice one bar of your Cross Gauge to do an instant four hit combo, which helps out newbies trying to learn to handle the characters, but also helps out vets of the game when they get in a bind and don't have the time to hit in all those buttons. And I'd be lying if I said I wasn't liking these new charge attacks, where you can perform a special attack, but then hold it down to create a charged version of the attack, or you can hold it down even longer to just launch right into your super attack without wasting any of your Cross Gauge.
Street Fighter X Tekken provides some great fighting, and in a fighting game that's the main thing you want. But that's really all it gives. Basically it's a game that gives you exactly enough to be a good game, but doesn't ever really go above and beyond the call of duty. And a few years ago, yes, that would have been all we needed from a fighting game. But it's a new day in the fighting community, and you can't just give us a good burger anymore, you have to give us a great side of fries, hush puppies, a salad, and a drink if you want to charge us for a full meal... but it is a damn good burger.
Rating: High Bargain Bin