With so many fighting games rearing their fists within the next year, it's going to be tough to decide which one(s) to sink time into, and even tougher for an online community to remain viable. Pushing the SSFIV engine to its fullest, Street Fighter X Tekken adds a bunch of new faces and features.
SFXT had quite a gathering at NYCC, with daily tournaments being the biggest pull and 8 other machines hooked up with pro-style fighting sticks. I was surprised to see that almost the entire roster was available to play, besides two "unknown" characters, with one being recently announced as everyone's favorite Rufus. There are a great selection of fighters, including the likes of Chun, Li, Sagat, Cammy, Ryu, Ken, and many others. Rounding out the Tekken side are Kazuya, Hwoarang, Yoshimitsu, King, Heihechi, and more, with the eventual PS3 version getting Cole from inFamous and the forgotten Sony mascots Toro and Kuro. Imbued with the same look as its Street Fighter 4 brethren - unrivaled 3D character designs over beautiful 2D backdrops - it moves more swiftly given the tag-team format, sprinkled with some of the mechanics from the more up tempo Capcom crossovers.
Unsurprisingly, the Capcom characters played like their SSFIV counterparts, with some minor tweaks here and there to assist balancing. New to the updated formula, the grossly designed Huge from Third Strike, and the much more pleasing Rolento from the Alpha series fit right in with the rest of the crew. The Tekken squad aptly transitions into the Street Fighter formula, retaining their 4-button-style combos that feed into the new mechanics.
The tag format has been revamped as well. Players can switch characters by simply tagging out, through switch cancels, and Cross Rush combos, draining the three stage Cross Gauge. Switch cancels, the smoothest and most useful, enables characters to change in the middle of a combo, while Cross Rush combos launch the opponent in the air, allowing for a certain amount of juggling to keep the pressure on. Also utilizing the Cross Gauge, Cross Assaults permit for control over both characters at the same time, and creating a pincer attack with Chun-Li and Hwoarang was extremely satisfying. Cross Arts use both characters' special attack, yet are chained together in a unique animation instead of being performed simultaneously. EX attacks come back as well, as does a version of the X-Factor from Marvel Vs. Capcom 3, known as Pandora. When a character drops below 25%, he or she can be sacrificed, giving the other fighter enhanced strength and unlimited Cross Gauge for a limited time, which can drastically change the course of a fight.
Street Fighter X Tekken takes the best the two games have to offer, mashing them together in the SSFIV engine to make one hell of a fighting experience. Controls are tight, combos are heavy, and new and innovative features permeate. Look for Street Fighter X Tekken as it competes with Mass Effect 3 on March 6th, and most likely a Super or Ultimate version some time within the next year. It'd be funny if it wasn't so true.