Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike Online Edition Review
In a genre packed with competition, fatalities, and savvy fighting moves, Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike sits in a class by itself. Introduced in the 90’s, back when Capcom was in its true fighting prime, it garnered more than enough of an audience to stay successful throughout the years, both in arcades and on consoles, most notably the Sega Dreamcast. This week, the game joins the downloadable ranks of other Capcom titles, available for both Xbox Live and PlayStation Network for a price of $14.99 – a bargain compared to what retail versions from previous years go for on eBay. Is this fighter still as dynamic as it’s always been, or has it lost its edge?
Well, no need to sweat the age issue. The fact of the matter is, Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike Online Edition is as playable as it’s always been, and to some fighting dynamos, perhaps even more so. The game features the kind of 2-D tactics that a lot of players have perfected over the years, including special moves, throw techniques (hitting the two light attack buttons rather than just walking up and throwing), and the ability to block. This game goes even further by introducing parrying, where you can fend off an incoming attack and set up a massive counter-attack. Some players have mastered the skill of parrying better than others (just watch Daigo’s comeback on Justin Wong in the 2004 EVO video that’s making the rounds on YouTube), but you can learn the tricks of the trade in Training mode. (You can learn EX moves as well, perhaps to the point where you can pound someone to a pulp. MAYBE.)
The gameplay is still the finest aspect of 3rd Strike Online Edition, and it's handled with the utmost care. Some amateurs may need some time to get into it (especially the parries), but the training mode will really go the extra mile for you here. You’ll need this training too, because the game’s expansive online modes will really put you to work. First off, the coding is damn near flawless, with hardly any lag or latency issues to fret over. Secondly, there are Ranked, Player, and Tournament modes available where you can put yourself in brackets with other players and try to come out on top. There is a slight waiting time when watching other players pair up (the more the merrier, in this case), but you might learn a thing or two watching others partake in matches. This is one you’ll definitely want to study and take notes on.
What’s more, if you are an experienced player and want to show the world just how good you are, the YouTube uploading feature is quite cool, capturing your fighting prowess in Internet glory forever (well, as long as the Internet lasts). The only downside is that you can’t really upload if two or more players are waiting on a match, but that’s more to their convenience than yours, so whatever. You can show off your skills in single player.
Along with a robust online community, Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike Online Edition also has solid involvement for single players. The AI is a little aggressive in later matches (especially the end boss), but it’s built that way to get the most out of your fighting techniques. In addition, you can tweak several “dip switches” to modify your experience, including ones for ground parrying, blocking, dashing, and other adjustments – perfect for would-be Daigo pros. (Granted, you can’t take them online, but no one likes a cheat anyway.)
The soundtrack in Street Fighter III is about the same as previous versions, and we have no complaints about it. It’s a personable, wonderful soundtrack, amongst the best that Capcom has produced for a fighting game. (And yes, we own the tracks on CD and iTunes.) The sound effects are impressive as well, especially the thrashing punching noises. WHACK! The announcer is cool, too, with a neat little techno voice that heightens the mood, rather than killing it.
However, it’s the visuals that will really grab you. Capcom has optimized the hand-drawn visuals of 3rd Strike for a high-definition age, and they look simply fantastic. Every frame has been recreated here to perfection, and the backdrops look as sharp as ever. Furthermore, you can make adjustments to go full-screen or cram it down, which is cool because you can track your accomplishments during the match as they run on the side of the screen. They might distract those trying to focus on the fight, but it’s awesome seeing how much you accomplish over the course of each match. This is a slick-looking game, one of the best Capcom’s done, and yes, that’s accounting for the awesome Marvel Vs. Capcom 2, which is still a favorite around our office.
If there is something that keeps 3rd Strike from utter perfection, it’s the lack of bonus stuff. There’s no sign of Shin Akuma. The fact that you can’t make adjustments for the previous Street Fighter III, Double Impact, is kind of a bummer. It would’ve been nice to have these extra options.
That shouldn’t stop you from purchasing one of the best fighters you’re bound to run across this year. Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike Online Edition is a wonderful revisiting of an unforgettable arcade/Dreamcast favorite, both online and off. The controls are utterly perfect (if slightly complex), the presentation rocks, and the options are plentiful. Pay your 15 bucks and get to brawlin’. You won’t be sorry.
[Reviewed on PlayStation 3]