One of the best ways to adjust your experience is with gems. Gems make your character stronger and can be tailored to suit any fighting style. If you're offense-oriented, then the attack-boosting Immense Power gems are for you. Conversely, if you plan on getting hit a lot, the Iron Wall gems, which grant damage reduction, would be best. Each character can hold three gems maximum, and while several gems offer the same benefits, what distinguishes them are their activation conditions. You do not acquire gem bonuses for free; they must be earned. But for all the good they do, gems cannot be solely relied upon. They are a subtle complement that can enhance an already lethal player, or shield someone less experienced from a beating.
In addition to its numerous combat mechanics, Street Fighter X Tekken has a robust game mode selection. Arcade mode is up first and opens with an introductory short for each official tag team. As matches are won, there is some post-bout banter that adds color to the adventure. A bout between each team and its rival team occurs near the end and includes its own introductory cinematic, followed by an ending cinematic showing what the winning team did with Pandora's Box. Together these story bits dress up arcade mode, and their funny, lighthearted delivery is fitting for an already outrageous game.
Next is challenge mode, which includes the tutorial, trial, and mission modes. Tutorial mode is where new players should start. Hosted by the jocular Dan Hibiki, this mode talks you through the game's numerous mechanics. It's a definite improvement over the complete lack of an introductory mode seen in most fighting games. Trial mode includes 20 character-specific trials for the entire roster. These trials range from performing basic special moves to pulling off advanced combos. Mission mode rounds out the set. In this mode you pick any character you like and battle against the AI with various battle conditions.
Two of the game's best teaching tools are not found in the challenge section. These are replays and practice mode. Replay mode lets you filter reaplys by character, player skill, and other factors. Studying the tactics of superior players is a great way to improve your own abilities. Training with a friend online also helps. With a partner in tow, you can hit up the briefing room and spar with, or against, him in practice mode.
Body double? Bob's already twice the size!
Unfortunately, online stability is inconsistent. Even against players in the same region, and with the maximum connection rating, it was still a toss-up whether we'd experience lag or not. Against players below those conditions the match would often slow to a heavy crawl. Hopefully this lag will be reduced over time, but for now it's an unfortunate blemish on an otherwise pristine game.
Street Fighter X Tekken provides complex combat in an inviting package. The fighting genre needs to become accessible to a wider range of players, and this game takes an important step in the right direction. Accessibility that doesn't come at the expense of variety is a smart move and sets this fun and flashy fighter apart from the pack.