There are two groups of people who will be downloading Street Fighter III: Third Strike – Online Edition. Those who have played Street Fighter II and IV but would love the sample the game which came in-between and those who are already enamoured with Street Fighter III and can’t wait to show off their advanced parrying skills online. If you belong in the latter camp, you should stop reading this review now, assume I gave the game a 10/10 and download it immediately (If you haven’t already). For everyone else, I suggest you continue playing the fighting game that you’re currently invested in and let this one pass you by.
For several reasons Street Fighter III failed to reach the acclaim of it’s insanely popular predecessor. First released in 1997, SF3 was designed to cater for tournament level players which immediately alienated 90% of the series’ fanbase. The fact that the game was released on the Dreamcast rather than the PS2 didn’t help matters either, and as a result most of us stuck to playing the Street Fighter Alpha games instead. It wasn’t until two years and two iterations later that the game finally made its way to the PS2 and Xbox in the form of Street Fighter III: Third Strike.
[quote-left]The character design in SF3 is borderline atrocious[/quote-left]Those jumping in to Third Strike for the first time will quickly discover that the game has a steep learning curve and roster full of unknown characters in place of the World Warriors you already know and love. Guile? Blanka? Zangief? All gone! Instead you have skateboard guy, basketball guy, metal-face dude and a bunch of other ugly beings who seem out of place in a Street Fighter game. The fighting mechanics also changed in ways that I just couldn’t get behind. The introduction of the Parry system meant that strikes and special moves could be deflected by pressing either forward or down (for high counters and low counters respectively) during the moment of impact. Mastering the art of parrying is no easy feat as it requires split second timing but this downloadable release features some handy training options in the form of “Challenges” which should help to get you on your way.
Capcom recently made the bold claim that this is an “arcade perfect port” which I’ll just assume is true since I’m in no position to contest such a statement. Graphically the game hasn’t aged well. I was never a fan of Street Fighter III’s artstyle but now it just looks old and dated. Yes, I know it’s a port of a 10 year old game but a bit of effort to make the game look more appealing would have been appreciated. There are some graphical filters which can be toggled from the options menu but they only serve to push the visuals from ‘very ugly’ to ‘regular ugly’. The character design in SF3 is borderline atrocious, to the point where I find myself only choosing characters that I’m already familiar with (namely Ryu, Ken, Akuma and Chun-Li).
The games audio perfectly match the visuals, by which I mean it’s equally terrible. While the level music is serviceable, the hip-hop inspired main menu/character selection themes are cringe-worthy! Even worse is the games use of speech, which had me convinced that all voice work was imported from a Speak & Spell device. Thankfully you won’t be hearing a lot of talking in Street Fighter III as characters would much rather resolve their issues with kicks to face.
[quote-right]Many regard Third Strike to be one the best fighting games ever produced but I genuinely can’t see the appeal[/quote-right]
My final gripe with SF3: Online Edition comes courtesy of the in-game achievement system which only serves to annoy rather than incentivize. As the game runs in a 4:3 window Capcom chose to turn the boarders of the screen in to what is essentially a news feeds of your achievement progress. Almost everything you do in the game, whether it’s throwing a projectile or finishing a round, counts towards some sort of achievement and during each fight you’re constantly bombarded with pop-ups informing you of progression towards the game’s set goals. Its just downright annoying!
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I do not like Street Fighter III. Many regard Third Strike to be one the best fighting games ever produced but I genuinely can’t see the appeal. If you’ve yet to play the game and are considering making a purchase I’d encourage you to check out the demo first. That or just just stick to playing Super Street Fighter IV. For Third Strike fans, you’ll be pleased to know the online mode works pretty well and finding an opponent is relatively quick and easy.Street Fighter III: Third Strike is an acquired taste, but unfortunately for me, I can’t wait to wash it out of my mouth. Buyer beware!
This review was based on a purchased copy of the game for the PS3.