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Street Fighter 3: Third Strike Review

When the words "Street Fighter" are brought up, many hark back to a simpler time.  A time when one would beg their parent to borrow an extra quarter in order to play as the guy who could shoot electricity, or the Russian giant who could overcome any foe.  With the release of 3rd Strike Online Edition for PS3 and Xbox 360, these memories can be relived in the comfort of one's own home.  And while 3rd Strike may have ditched most of the cast of previous SF games, the characters provide a fun change, something that is held perfectly intact with the Online Edition.  With arcade-perfect gameplay and GGPO online integration, this version of 3rd Strike may be the best one yet. 

The visual features that this version of 3rd Strike offers are quite astounding.  The game allows for the choice of 4 screen sizes (Normal, Widescreen, Stretched, and Arcade Cabinet), 3 character visual filters (Crisp, Smooth, or None), and even the option of turning scan lines on or off.  With so many options, players can adjust the settings to their preferred specifications with ease.  In addition to the graphics looking very crisp, each of the moves seem to convey what it is really well.  When you press hard kick, the character truly does seem to wind up and unleash a move that usually knocks the opponent back very far.  Similar to Street Fighter 4, when the character is knocked down, the background will often react in some way (whether it is cans flying up or snakes falling out of trees), and the way that these backgrounds animate is also very satisfying.

Akuma vs. Yang This is what a match typically looks like with the trackers on the right

While the music and sound may seem old compared to some of the more recent titles that have been released, the music and animation sounds fit perfectly with the game’s timeline.  The fare that you will hear sounds like it is directly off of a 90’s game soundtrack, even though most of the music was recorded specifically for the online edition.  The announcer in the online edition is the same as the one in the arcades, so fans of his style of announcing can look forward to much more of the same.  

One of the largest game features is the Vault, in which you can unlock original arcade music and the original opening with points that you earned through specific tasks.  Some of the tasks are fairly easy, such as parrying one attack, while some are much more difficult. The main one that comes to mind is recreating Evo Moment 37.  The one problem with the Vault is that a large portion of the content is concept art, and while super fans of the characters may find some of this interesting, new people who are just picking up the game because it looked interesting may not have the motivation to unlock everything that the Vault has to offer.

Chun Li is top tier, so get used to seeing her. A lot. Chun Li is top tier, so get used to seeing her. A lot.

While the Vault is neat and the visuals and sound feel really authentic, the real core of Street Fighter 3 is the gameplay, and I am proud to announce that it is very true to its arcade counterpart.  For those who haven’t played a Street Fighter game and are looking at this and considering it, the learning curve is much more steep than the Street Fighter 4 series.  In the SF4 series, Capcom put in a few shortcuts that would make it easier for the player to execute moves.  For instance, if you want to do a Spinning Piledriver (or SPD) as Zangief in Super Street Fighter 4, only 6 inputs must be made and that registers as a full circle (which is what is needed to activate SPD).  In 3rd Strike, it requires 7 inputs, and since characters go airborne after 6 frames, it makes it much harder to hit Hugo’s Moonsault Press.  That was just an example, but many of the moves in 3rd Strike require a much higher level of execution, which to many players may prove to be a daunting task.  With this in mind though, it could be very beneficial to play 3rd Strike if you are an aspiring SF4 player who is trying to improve execution.  I found that after playing 3rd Strike for a few days, it was much easier to get off moves and combos that I was not able to complete before.  Overall, the gameplay is tough and the arcade mode will test you, but it is an excellent and fun way to improve execution.

One thing that must be noted is that this game is not for everyone.  Know that it will test you and there is a good chance that you will see the “You Lose” screen a lot.  But if you can persevere through the difficult parts and challenges that it brings, Street Fighter 3rd Strike Online Edition can prove to be an extremely rewarding experience that will satisfy you for years to come.   



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