Street Fighter X Tekken In-Depth Hands-On Preview – Welcome to Fight Club
Written Thursday, February 09, 2012 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
Previous hands-on sessions we've had with Street Fighter X Tekken have had us clutching at straws with nary a printed move list or in-game pause menu command list to refer to. So having an audience with Producer and Street Fighter overlord, Yoshinori Ono to take us through the game and explain all of the new mechanics and systems to us was a real coup. Not only did we get to learn the ins and outs of the latest SF title, but we also got to play it with the man himself.
Now, there's a whole bunch of stuff to get through here that you may or may not have heard about before, from the Cross Rush, Cross Assault, Charge Moves, Switch Cancels and Cross Arts systems to the much-maligned Gems, which Ono compared to “equipment for your characters” when we chatted to him. There's also the riotous Scramble Mode to talk about and a glut of other stuff. So, here goes...
Street Fighter X Tekken, Ono tells us, is being built to appeal to the broadest audience possible, offering the “hardcore depth” that die-hard fans expect, coupled with “casual fun” for the players more inclined to dip in and enjoy a more accessible experience. First and foremost, there's Gems that cater to less seasoned SF players with Boost and Assist Gems falling into either the attack, defence or speed categories and you can save presets of Gem configurations.
There's also easier command inputs available for beginners and the game's Cross Rush combo utilises a simple input that even a trained chimp could pull off. It's as basic as combos get, with a press of LP, MP, MP, HP, HP (light punch, medium punch x2, high punch) activating a tag combo that can be strung together with more combos for the more advanced players. “Cross Rush is a fundamental combo, easy to learn and the core basis of the gameplay,” Ono confirms as he shows us how easy it is to execute.
And it is a snap to use, leading into potential wall bounces that can then go into Tekken-inspired juggle moves (although gravity still plays its part) and into any number of moves after that. Super Moves (known as 'Super Arts' in SFxTK) have also been shaken up, so EX Moves have become Charge Moves that involve holding down two buttons. Hold them down for long enough and you'll automatically go into a Super Art finisher and avoid spending a segment of your super bar (AKA the 'Cross Gauge') rather than the usual two. Another variation on Super Arts is the Cross Arts ability that has you tagging in your partner for a spectacular two player finisher.
Then there's Cross Assault, which enables you to tag in your partner and temporarily fight together on the same screen, eventing in crazed 2v1 or 2v2 situations. You'll also find more combo opportunities with a Switch Cancel that gives you the chance to spend one Cross Gauge bar on tagging in to take over in the middle of a chain of moves, keeping it going if you succeed in timing your moves accordingly. If you're playing a co-op fight with a 2-player team, you can also tag yourself in at the cost of one Cross Gauge segment if you like, but you might risk incurring the wrath of your partner in the process.
Much has also been made of the Pandora state that you can muster when your health bar dwindles to below 25% giving you the chance to hit down, down and tag to sacrifice yourself to give your partner a chance at finishing the fight in style. You're only given a 10 second rush with an unlimited Cross Gauge before you're KO'ed though, so it's a huge risk, but one that can pay off massively if you pitch it just right. For instance, we're shown how a player on their last legs can set up a wall bounce, make the sacrifice to enter Pandora and then have their partner rush on screen and inflict a staggering 50% damage with a single Super Arts attack. Pandora is a gamble, but a powerful and potentially worthwhile one.
Pandora isn't the only new addition to Street Fighter X Tekken that's bugged SF fans, as you'll well know. The introduction of Gems has also been a contentious issue among the purists, but Ono's “equipment” analogy holds up, as Gems merely assist or boost weaknesses for less experienced players or capitalise upon your strengths, and each comes with its own set of benefits and penalties. “There's no Gem too powerful or overpowered,” states Ono. “Just different Gems.” In the Gem edit menu, you can wade through the Gems you've gained, assign them to the attack, defence or speed setups, then name and save your own presets.
After extended play with the Gem system, they don't make an enormous difference in all honesty and their effects are actually rather subtle. Activating your Gems involves fulfilling certain criteria anyway, at which point small Gem icons will light up on your Cross Gauge and your fighter will glow yellow, green or red as per the Gem category's colour when they're active. Get hit four times for instance, and your defence will be temporarily boosted, or if you land an attack five times you could have a momentary boost to your attack power.
Ono sees the Gem system as another aspect of what he calls Street Fighter X Tekken's “unprecedented customisation”, with Boost Gems complementing your play style and Assist Gems providing passive aids like auto-block, easier inputs, throw escapes and cancel assists. Using Gems incurs a cost though, so while you might be able to auto-block for example, it'll cost you a sector of your Cross Gauge, and a cancel assist or easy input Gem will reduce your attack power by 10% for the remainder of a fight. It's all swings and roundabouts then, and Ono insists that it'll all be well-balanced come release day, although it seems pretty balanced in its current state.
As well as customisation through Gems, you can also now change the colours of any fighter in the game too, of which there are 34 in our preview code adding recent additions Xiaoyu, Law, Paul, Balrog, Vega and Juri. At the moment, the number of colour options are scant, put Capcom is promising free periodical DLC colour packs that will be released on a seasonal basis. Still, you can make a white-haired Ryu with obsidian skin if you like, or a monochrome Sagat. There are heaps of options to fiddle with and a whole bunch of modes on offer, even in this relatively early build, which bodes well for the final product.
While all of the new systems might be daunting, the tutorial mode led by Dan Hibiki does a great job of holding your hand through the basics, so you'll feel right at home in no time, getting stuck into the game's slew of modes. All of the game's modes are playable online too (and there's brand new netcode), but it's the hilarious Scramble Mode that could provide Street Fighter X Tekken's multiplayer zenith, throwing all four players on screen at once in a chaotic frenzy. “It's a crazy, frantic mode we hope families will enjoy,” Ono smiles. “Street Fighter X Tekken is a fighting festival,” he adds. “It's the most ambitious fighting game we've ever put out.”
On the basis of what we've played so far, we might be inclined to agree. Street Fighter X Tekken is certainly ambitious and rich in features, modes and options, but it'll be striking that all-important balance in its litany of new stuff that'll be the deciding factor as to whether Capcom's “fighting festival” stands a fighting chance when it launches this March.
Street Fighter X Tekken will be the only disc you'll need to buy, asserts Capcom, with no Super, Ultra or Ultimate Edition planned, and it'll be coming on March 6th in North America and March 9th in Europe.