Alright everybody, put down your torches and pitchforks. Yes, I said it. The gem system isn’t all that bad. It has a horrible implementation right now, and I can’t blame everyone for hating it. The concept itself isn’t bad. We need some sort of customization in fighting games. Let me go over the positives and negatives…And yes, the full review is coming soon…
On the bright side, it makes things different. Really, it’s as simple as that. We already have a brand new fighting engine here which will take us at least months to fully understand, and you add the possibility of individual customization with the gem system? Brilliant! In theory at least. This makes you plan out your strategy that much more. What if your opponent has all defense adding gems? All meter gain gems? Or power gems? If you plan on fighting each one the same, you’re probably not that into fighting games. Once one of those activates, you will take a different approach. I would probably turtle against the power gem, try an aggressive approach with the meter gem to minimize the chance of meter gain, and semi-aggressive with the defense gem. You cater them to your play style. Activation conditions are different, so that adds a another dimension to your strategy. I’m using Guile right now, and I play a pretty aggressive pressure game, with lots of footsies. I use a meter gain gem which activates after the opponent blocks ten of my moves. That won’t take me long, couple of safe block strings and I’m there, boom. Then I build meter quicker for tagging out and for my partner. I enjoy having the ability to plan things out this way, because it will make me different than every other Guile player you will face. It’s an extra layer of strategy, is that a bad thing?
There is already a lot of strategy going into this game. Little things but they’re there. Who’s your anchor? Why? Is it because he can’t build meter, he needs it to be effective, or a counter-pick? How are you planning your game? Aggressive? Keep away turtling to build meter before you strike? There’s a lot more I can go into, but you get the idea. The gems add an additional layer to this. Some people think it makes the game overly complicated. I don’t agree with that. We’ve already had Third Strike, it doesn’t get much more intricate than that. The game that I would say shares the most similarities in how it plays to Street Fighter X Tekken is Capcom vs. SNK 2. That game had six different grooves to pick one, which decided movement options, defense options, meter options, and much more! I don’t recall anyone ever saying CvS 2 was too complex, so why are we getting into that argument now? I know we want more new people to join the scene, and that’s what the assist gems are for! It’s a tool to help them ease into the game. Once they learn the basics, they’ll realize the penalties associated with these gems is not worth using them versus others. Once again, we are just adding tools to help make the game better for everyone.
OK, I’ve gushed about it enough, so what are the negatives? The implementation is horrible. You have to preset gems for each character individually. This means that even if someone comes over and we play on my Xbox, the moment I want to try someone new, I have to select from the preset gem setups for that character. I should be able to make a few sets that I can use on every character, just pick the character and the set. Since some people prefer the previous option for ultimate customizability, I say let us choose. Second, the menu in which you pick them is very unintuitive. You have a long list of gems, only separated by type on one page. You can’t instantly go from power gems to speed gems for instance, you have to scroll all the way down to find them. Such a simple thing shouldn’t have gotten past QA. Third, and most importantly, is ease of access on the road. If I go to a tournament now, unless gems aren’t disabled, I have to use one of the preset gem sets for the character I use. Letting each player set up their own gem sets would slow any tournament down to a crawl, and that is unacceptable. This is something that Capcom plans to fix by allowing players to put gem presets on USB flash drives, so gem tournament play will be as quick as regular matches.
So what’s my point in all this? It’s that we shouldn’t just disregard the gem system due to its current flaws. I say we wait until Capcom gives us the tournament update for the game, and try it out. If it ends up being too much of a pain at that point, then we can kill it and bury it. For now, I ask that we look at it as another potential feature that may make the game a more complex experience. Why not? Either it is, or we will all agree at that point that it wasn’t worth it. We all win. Keep getting hype everyone!