(Capcom for Xbox 360)
By Mike Delano
Let’s face it: Street Fighter is cooler than Tekken. Sure, the Tekken series is great and played an important role in the evolution of 3D fighting games, but SF is both the genesis of the entire fighting genre and in possession of a sterling modern reputation, thanks to the outstanding Street Fighter IV and spiritual brethren like Marvel vs. Capcom 3. As Street Fighter X Tekken (X = “cross”) proves, though, injecting some of that crazy Tekken energy into the SF formula can lead to some fantastic results. The game feels loose and fun, and the anything-goes vibe doesn’t just extend to the visuals (T-Rex onlookers, Mecha Zangief and all manner of Final Fight-related shenanigans). The clash of these two franchises has inspired the developers to play around with the core fighting mechanics as well. The tag system allows for some interesting combinations (the slash and burn attack of Poison alternating with the lumbering, close quarters-focused Hugo) and enforces stricter rules (one character dies and the round is over) to encourage careful strategy. Add in the expansive Gem System, wherein myriad offensive and defensive buffs are activated throughout the course of a match, and you have a risky gamble with two normally conservative brands. But it pays off, and this shake-up of the formula makes for a joyous celebration of the present-day fighting scene.