God it's daunting, isn't it? That first time you dip into a new fighting game's training modes and it hits you like a wave – you've got to learn. It all. Again. Those hours spent glaring at bright lights of the pristine training room memorising links and chains, the mental exhaustion of perfecting the microsecond timing between combo attacks, the constant trips to the pause menu's command list and the bounty of stick-snapping complexity hidden therein…
I'm getting ahead of myself, of course. Before you can even contemplate letting the word 'supercancel' spark through your frazzled synapses, you need to get your head around all the crazy Capcom has stuffed into Street Fighter X Tekken.
Thankfully, the game's actually nowhere near as complicated as it seems. There's a lot of superfluous technical stuff happening while you play, but for the most part, if you've chucked a couple of hadokens around in your time at the stick, you can play Street Fighter X Tekken. This really feels like a sequel; a fully fledged follow up with a tonne of new ideas but enough of the original's DNA linking them all together. There's a natural crossover in skills that's vital for those first few matches.
That grounding really helps when you start experimenting with the new systems, too. First off, and most obviously, this is a tag game, and joining the Street Fighter lot is a whole heap of lads and lasses from Tekken's side of the tracks. The control layout is classic Street Fighter, but now you can tag your opponent in with both middles or smack both heavies to fire out your launcher, sending your opponent flying skywards and letting your tag partner zoom in underneath and continue the combo.
Unlike most tag games, the team-mates don't share a life bar but they do share a life, so if one member is knocked out, both lose the round. It makes tagging an absolute necessity and forces you to find teams who can work together well – typically fighters with similar styles make good pairs while you're still figuring out what the hell is going on.
Street Fighter X Tekken must be commended for how well it incorporates the kickpunching hellions of team Namco into the Street Fighter engine. They feel slightly different to play with, even beyond the lack of projectiles. Most of them, from Paul to King to Kazuya, have far more 'unique attacks' than the Street Fighter lot, meaning you can string together close-quarters combos far easier than you can with that other bunch and their fiery palms.
The roster's suitably packed, too. Despite a few notable omissions (no Jack or Eddy Gordo? No Blanka?) Street Fighter and Tekken fans should be pretty chuffed with this veritable who's who of both series' past.
So, not a huge amount of complaining going on, and rightly so, this is top level stuff from true masters of the art. Is it as good as Super Street Fighter IV though? Not quite. As an experiment and a sequel, though, Street Fighter X Tekken is still a resounding and admirable success.
Virgin Media verdict:
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