Street Fighter and Tekken are franchises synonymous with quality 2D and 3D fighting games. Now, after almost two decades of minding their own business, they’ve collided in the 2.5D dimensional middle-ground. Although it's meant to be a Vs-style game, in practice it comes off as a Street Fighter game with dozens of guest characters from Tekken.
A quick note: leading up to release it was revealed a number of fighters who will be released as DLC are already on the disc. Capcom cited the reason for their presence on the disc as a way to avoid releasing a secondary version and ensuring the characters are balanced before release. However, none of these DLC fighters are shown in the menu, so it doesn't give you the feeling you are missing part of the whole.
And now, onto the roster you can see...
Street Fighter X Tekken's consists of 38 characters, 19 per franchise, who have appeared in each series' most recent releases. While this seems like a good way to ensure fans of either series will have one familiar character to pick up and play, due to the switch in control schemes players will need to relearn the Tekken character’s move sets. Fortunately, the switch has been handled well. In my initial play-through the story, I picked Ling Xiaoyu and Ryu, as they are my defaults in their respective titles. Although my usual Xiaoyu combos were gone, the Tekken character’s specials and super moves are done in the Street Fighter fashion. In addition, the two easy combos can be assigned to buttons, making it possible for anyone to pull out a flashy move regardless of your skill level.
The changes to the way the Tekken characters handle goes beyond the control scheme: all of them move with the speed of Street Fighter characters, and can out-combo the best Street Fighter has to offer. In addition, several characters such as Jin Kazama and Raven have ranged attacks, putting them on an even footing with Ryu and Ken.
Street Fighter X Tekken introduces the 'gem unit', which give numerous advantages in a fight. There are two types of gem unit: Boost Gems boost the power of specific moves, and Assist Gems make certain moves easier to pull off. The gem's are activated when certain conditions are met, and while their effect varies in length and power, they can prove a deciding factor in battle. Characters can line up to three gems on two gem units - but only one can be equipped at a time.
On the player customisation front, there's little to speak of. Each fighter has one costume each and just four colour variations - primary, secondary scheme, black, and white. There's little to mess around with until the DLC starts appearing.
The guts of Street Fighter X Tekken's single player experience is in its Arcade mode. You pick two fighters from each side and play through tag battles. When it comes to the actual fighting, one feature notably absent is the ability to perform combined super moves - not that you need them in this title. Another interesting mechanic is that super moves can be performed by either charging your special, or using up a super move slot. As far as boss battles go, they are determined by the side your first selection is on. The mid bosses are either Juri and M. Bison or Xiaoyu and Jin Kazama, while the end bosses are either Akuma or Ogre.
The only drawback in Arcade mode are the weak character stories. There are three alternating prologue and epilogue animations, and individual takes on the story are told through nothing more than dialogue over a blank screen.
Elsewhere in the modes you've got 20 missions, with a variety of conditions - such as using special or basic moves only - which can be handled using any two fighters. If you fail with one pairing you can easily switch out and try with another team. Each fighter also has 20 challenges - a simple mode to explore their various combos.
Street Fighter X Tekken's online modes consist of ranked matches, Endless Battle - in which players join a lobby and take turns - and Scramble Battle, which is definitely the standout. In this mode, two players can team up to fight other teams online - it's an odd mix of offline co-op and online battles.
Overall, Street Fighter X Tekken brings it in some places and slides by in others, yet it manages to be one of the best crossover fighting games in recent memory. It was a pleasant surprise to see how well the Tekken fighters made the transition into 2D, especially given the slower pace of their original series.