Developer: Iron Galaxy Studios / Publisher: Capcom / Played On: Xbox Live Arcade / Price: 1200 MSP ($15) / ESRB: Teen (Suggestive Themes, Violence)
When Street Fighter III: New Generation was first released back in 1997 gamers saw it as a mixed bag. The updated fighting system, visual style, and new roster of combatants was seen by Street Fighter loyalists as a move away from what they liked about the series . Players who gave the game a shot saw that Third Strike was one of the best fighting games ever made. Capcom has given gamers another chance to fight for the future with Street Fighter III: Third Strike Online Edition for the Xbox 360. HD graphics, online play, and a fantastic fighting system make Third Strike Online Edition a must-play for any fighting fan.
The Street Fighter series laid the groundwork for what a fighting game should be. Third Strike was the game that made the most drastic changes to the winning formula. You still throw fireballs and chain together combos to pummel your opponents, but how you perform those actions has been tweaked. Third Strike is a lot more technical than other games in the series, and at the forefront of this change is the parry system. Instead of simply blocking and attacking and taking a small amount of chip damage, you can press forward the moment before an attack lands to parry the blow. This move leaves your foe at a disadvantage and allows you to punish them. Parrying is a tough art to master, but it is a total game changer. EX moves, which can be found in Street Fighter IV, were first in Street Fighter III, and are super charged special moves that do extra damage. Rounding out the fighting system are multiple super combos for each character that are selected before each fight.
Third Strike Online Edition has plenty of modes to keep pugilists happy. Single player mode is still a challenge and the end boss Gill is still cheap as shit. Online multiplayer battles are relatively lag free thanks to matchmaking that sticks you with opponents of similar connection speeds as well as skill level. Online tournaments can be created as well as spectator rooms to watch saved replays of player matches. A much welcomed and extensive training mode has been added, giving both veterans and newbies a tutorial on the intricacies of the game. Third Strike is a hard game, so having these training sessions teach you how to parry or combo is a great addition. Dip switches can also be toggled on or off to change the overall gameplay, such as turning off chip damage, starting with a certain level of super combo gauge, and the timing input range for parrying to name a few. Wrapping up the updates are challenges, which are like mini-milestones. These challenges range from the simple (throwing 25 projectiles) to the ridiculous (Complete Arcade Mode without losing a round), and completing them awards you Vault Points, which you can use to unlock artwork, music tracks, and other goodies. Completing challenges can be very addictive and they come as an excellent way to get more replay value out of an already stellar package.
There are some issues with the game, the biggest being the difficulty. Third Strike can be unrelenting and if you’re used to, say, Street Fighter IV, then you’ll be in for a surprise when you get dropped in the fourth round. The game isn’t unfair by any means, it is just a big change from other games in the franchise. Online matches are lag free, but finding a match can take several minutes; I actually couldn’t find a ranked match on several occasions.
Any fighting game fan will tell you that the crux of a fighter is how well the game handles. Third Strike Online Edition is one of the smoothest, easiest fighting games to handle. The D-pad is a bit hard to use, which causes your execution to suffer, but the control stick is much better. For how technical the fighting system is, the controls are surprisingly uncomplicated: unleashing hadoukens, kikoukens, and super combos are simple. The fighting system is, in my opinion, the best in the franchise, and if you lose a fight it’s most likely your own mistake and not the game’s.
Third Strike Online Edition has given the aged game a nice HD facelift. Not as drastic an update as Super Street Fighter II’ Turbo HD Remix, Third Strike Online Edition smoothens the rough edges and makes everything look a lot nicer. New character art and portraits are a nice touch as well. And if you’re a traditionalist, you can turn off these updated graphics and play the game in the original aspect ratio and graphics, complete with scan lines to authenticate the arcade experience. Third Strike Online Edition runs well and I experienced no frame rate drops even while playing online.
Street Fighter III: Third Strike Online Edition is a fantastic downloadable title. Online play makes an already great game even better. Updated visuals, an in-depth training mode, and plenty of challenges to complete give Third Strike Online Edition plenty of replay value. The unique and near perfect fighting system makes Third Strike one of the best fighting games ever made.