It's always hard and ambitious to cross two great, long-running very different fighting game franchises that both have their loyal fanbases. Street Fighter X Tekken however attempts to merge the legendary Capcom fighting game franchise with Namco's Iron Fist franchise. Everyone knows it's quite difficult, since Street Fighter has the light-medium-heavy strike gameplay and emphasis on complex cinematic combos, while Tekken has the one button per limb gameplay and the emphasis on juggling (hitting your opponent as long as you can while he's/she's in the air). SFXT decides to use Street Fighter IV's gameplay engine with some Tekken flavor.
A mysterious box from space has landed on the Antarctica. The box, named Pandora, seems to have a strange effect on everyone near it, so it grabs the media's attention. And then everyone's out to get the box and see what's inside it. And by everyone, I mean a quite large roster full of memorable Street Fighter and Tekken characters. Ryu, Ken, Guile, M. Bison, Sagat, Vega, Cammy, Chun-Li, they're all in. Kazuya, Jin, Heihachi, Paul, Law, Nina, Yoshimitsu (in his classic Tekken 3 outfit, the best he's ever worn), they're also in. There's also a couple of comedic surprises, but I don't want to spoil them for you. I'm a bit bummed about some good characters being left out (Bryan Fury, Lei Wulong, Blanka...), but most of them are DLC. They could've replaced some more irrelevant characters, though, like Juri, Rolento and Hugo. All characters included have official tag team partners.
The basic gameplay is what Street Fighter IV is. You can of course move (no sidestepping, though), do light, medium and heavy strikes, throw, jump and crouch. But the Tekken flavor comes in on the form of easier execution of normal combos consisting of punches and kicks. There's not much juggling here, though. If you're good at SFIV, you're good at this, but practicing is a must for novices and Tekken players who are used to Tekken's gameplay. Street Fighter's gameplay is the dominating half here. Street Fighter characters have their familiar special moves (Hadoken, Shoryuken, Psycho Crusher, Yoga Fire, Tiger Uppercut etc.), but also Tekken fighters have some of their signature moves in their arsenal. Paul has the Phoenix Smasher, Law has his somersault kick, Hwoarang has the Hunting Hawk, Kazuya has his Lighting Uppercut and more, so Tekken players will have something familiar to start with, even though some of the commands are, of course, different. SFXT also has a fighting gem system, which usually makes your fighter more powerful or faster. They're not that big of a deal the game makes them out to be, though.
When you're more experienced, you can start worrying about the more complex moves, like Super Combo, Cross Assault, Quick Combo, Cross Arts, EX moves and more. They're not that hard to do, but sometimes it's really hard to remember them all. But you can win a match without them, don't worry about that. I learned how to use them, though, because they're so stylish. It's awesome to hit a flaming red EX Hadoken or finish a battle ganging up on your opponent 2-on-1 style! These are something all Tekken games lack, so they'll be totally new to Iron Fist veterans. Game modes feature the story-driven arcade mode, versus, trials (executing the most important signature moves of characters), missions (for example, defeating your opponents with only counter hits), practice and more.
Character customization is present in SFXT, but it's much more limited than in Tekken, since you can only change outfit and skin colors. You can create a red-skinned Ryu or an all-pink Ogre. It's a good mode to have, though, despite it's limitations. The battlegrounds are beautiful and the backgrounds are usually very interactive and lively. You can even spot many cameo appearances, like Ganryu and Alex from Tekken and more. You fight in a dinosaur park, in a pitstop filled with colorful trucks and in Antarctica which really impressed me: you're been chased by a ghastly-looking giant devil mammoth!
Street Fighter X Tekken borrows it's graphical style from the comic-book like Street Fighter IV. The backgrounds are very colorful and everything's like a cross between 2D and 3D. The game usually has a playful atmosphere, excluding the last levels, which is nice. This is as far from Tekken's realistic graphical style as it can get. Street Fighter won the battle in both gameplay and visual department. The graphics are very good-looking all in all. All Tekken characters have been "Street Fighterized", which means that they now have muscles on top of their muscles and they have exaggerated facial expressions. They now fight right into the world of Street Fighter. Some character models are quite awkward, especially Craig Marduk, whose abdomen is as wide as his chest, making him look chubby, which he's clearly not in Tekken games. And where did he lose his mustache? Background music is good, sometimes even great. I fell in love with the pitstop stage's psychedelic round two theme. SFXT is good to listen to and it even has remixes of classic themes from both franchises (Bison's Street Fighter 2 theme, Ogre's Tekken 3 boss theme, Jin's Tekken 3 theme). Voice acting is surprisingly good and intensively delivered and as a funny detail, you can choose which characters you want to speak Japanese and which English. It's a really nice addition.
There's a lot of ending movies, online profile titles and more to be unlocked, even though the story-driven arcade mode is the only strong point for single players. Once it's done, you just play for the enjoyment, or you can complete the trials or the diverse missions, but most of them are quite hard, though, so you've been warned. Anyway, Street Fighter X Tekken may not entirely be what you expected, but it does a good job in merging two very different fighting games together, even though Street Fighter is clearly the dominating half here. But hey, who wouldn't wanna play with a team of M. Bison and Heihachi Mishima? It's a great deal for SF and Tekken fans.
+ Great roster with memorable fighters from both franchises, nice graphical style, good sound-wise, addictive deep gameplay, using special attacks is flashy and fun, remixes of old themes are nostalgic, character customization
- There could be more single player content, some good characters have been left out (especially Blanka and Bryan), some awkward character models, character customization could be larger
REAL SCORE: 8.8