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Street Fighter x Tekken Hands-on [PAX Prime 2011]

As regulars of the site know, I'm a little bit of a Capcom fan. It's not just that I think they are still the kings of the fighting genre; it's the fact that they've busted out some of the best action games that I've played during my life-long gaming career. So it's easy for me to say that they are one of the highlights at convention tour. At this year's PAX Prime I wound up taking the lead on the fighting games, 'cause seriously, who else is going to own that stuff?

First stop for me was Street Fighter x Tekken. I've read a lot. I've seen the teaser videos. I've seen some of the gameplay.  I've watched the announcements for the characters, but until you play the thing first hand you can never really know what's up.

I'm happy to say that it plays a LOT better than I was originally thinking through watching the videos. The combo system is slick, easy enough to jump into and winds up feeling pretty rewarding. When I started in on the game it was put forward that it 'plays a little more like Marvel vs. Capcom than Street Fighter,' which makes sense. Considering this is basically another cross-over game, it should have that same kind of random/weird vibe to it I guess. Because in all honestly making a game that's going to be as technical as Street Fighter merged with a game as juggle-heavy as Tekken just seems like a poor choice.

I went five rounds with the Capcom rep, who took it easy on me and allowed me an opportunity to check out the mechanics of the game and get a feel for the changes that have been made.

The first thing that was pointed out was that the timing on the combos has gone right out the window. You can basically 'dial-a-combo,' pressing the buttons in order as fast as you please and watch your combo roll out on its own timing.

The other interesting thing, when talking about combos, is that if you end with two fierce attacks at the end of any combo, your character will launch and tag. Meaning that if you've got someone on the run, and want to swap out and continue the combo you can just knock him twice with a fierce hard kick, or punch, knock them skyward and do a hot-swap to bring in your secondary. It's an interesting gameplay mechanic, and can be utilized (if you know how to do it correctly) to unleash some monster combos.

Another way that Capcom hopes to bring in the cross-over mechanic is in the use of your super meter. It basically offers up two options, not unlike Street Fighter IV's Super/Ultras, but instead each option will allow you the opportunity to tag-in your partner. The first option is your standard cinematic super move, you'll start some kind of large flashy attack and half-way through your partner will swap in with a move of their own. It looks gorgeous and, in the case of some of the more bear-ish characters from Tekken, has a little bit of humor to it.

The second option for your 'super' is to bring in your partner for a longer period of time. It doesn't have the 'flash' of the previous super, but if you do it correctly you can wind up with one of your characters on either side of your opponent and start spamming a series of attacks from either side! Obviously the first question when I saw that was "how?" To which I got the response "it alternates." So from the sound of things, after you start the tag-in for the long-term play you can just conduct a series of movements, one at a time, back and forth between your two characters to inflict some major damage.

After spending some time with the game hands-on, I have to say that my previous concerns regarding if this was going to be a legit fighter or just some kind of campy spin-off are pretty much alleviated. While it might not replace Street Fighter as my primary fighter of choice, it feels like a better second-tier option that Marvel vs. Capcom, considering I don't have to worry about 130 combos long enough to allow me to make a bathroom-run mid-match. Unless, you know, you were looking for that opportunity?