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Street Fighter 3: 3rd Strike: Fight for the Future (PlayStation 2) artwork

Street Fighter 3: 3rd Strike: Fight for the Future (PlayStation 2) review

"Where brothers and sisters are concerned, nothing says unfair quite like being compared to your older sibling. Try as you might to match their achievements, invariably you're left standing in the corner as the dark shadow of someone else's success begins to fall across your life. "Why can't you be more like him?" your parents ask. "He knows what life's all about, you're such a disappointment to us all!" they claim. Yes, yes, I know how much I've let you both down. Now go away would you I'm tryin..."

Where brothers and sisters are concerned, nothing says unfair quite like being compared to your older sibling. Try as you might to match their achievements, invariably you're left standing in the corner as the dark shadow of someone else's success begins to fall across your life. "Why can't you be more like him?" your parents ask. "He knows what life's all about, you're such a disappointment to us all!" they claim. Yes, yes, I know how much I've let you both down. Now go away would you I'm trying to cure cancer. If this conversation is starting to sound familiar, then perhaps you may have just found a new best friend in the guise of Capcom's Street Fighter 3. For here is a game that could have, would have, should have set the world on fire... had it not been burdened by a little legacy known as The World Warriors. And let's face it, where Street Fighter 2 was concerned, they were always going to be pretty big shoes to fill. So how do you follow up on one of the most popular games of all time? Do you continue adding new elements to the gameplay until it falls apart under the weight of its own bloated carcass? Or do you do as Street Fighter 3 did and start afresh? Building your own legacy regardless of what others may think. As it is in life, sometimes it's best to be your own man...

If you were to try and pin point the exact moment when mainstream success slipped through Street Fighter 3's clenched fists, could you? Some would have you believe that the game was doomed to be forgotten the moment Capcom first dropped it on arcade goers. We were after all quite disappointed to learn that this, the most hotly anticipated of sequels, was to feature a mere 8 combatants. Most of whom were new faces that initially at least, seemed to lack the all important groove-tastic Capcom attitude of old. Where was my man beast Blanka? What happened to the luscious Cammy? And why oh why wasn't M Bison the final boss anymore??! Bah! What's with all this change?! And while some of us may have been guilty of passing judgement in such an arrogantly haphazard fashion, first impressions when laced with disappointment are rarely correct. In keeping with the traditions laid down by the original World Warriors, the initial line-up was bolstered over time as the obligatory updates eventually gave players one of the most balanced and complete rosters ever seen in a 2d fighter. Unfortunately enough for Capcom however, their timing was off and upon completion, the mainstream greeted Street Fighter 3: Third Strike with an icy silence of disinterest. Sometimes life can be very unforgiving indeed...

Which when you come to think about it, is really something of a tragedy. For more than any other game, Street Fighter 3: Third Strike is often considered to be the very best the genre has to offer. Why? Well let's just say that by jettisoning much of the excess baggage, Capcom returned the franchise to a simpler, more refined time. And it was this single decision that earned the biggest outcry from the hardcore Street Fighter 2/Alpha elite. So called series staples such as the consistent 15+ hit combo attacks were left by the wayside, in their place a more streamlined system could be found that rewarded players who took the time to calculate their offensive movements. Not only did this focus the gameplay to such a point where wits became just as important as brawn, it also forced each move to became an integral part of a more careful and deliberate strategy. Further amplifying this new mindset was a freshly implemented parry system that rewarded players who dared to risk it all. By simply tapping the control pad in the direction of an incoming attack, a blow could be deflected thereby giving you a window of opportunity to counter your opponent. Sure it may have been risky and you could have had your arse kicked from one side of the screen to the other, but then again the rewards for doing so were almost too good to refuse. Double the damage inflicted while possibly driving the final nail into your opponent's coffin.. taunt, twitch, block, parry, then make them curse your name out loud.

It's while you've got your opponent on the ropes that you'll be looking to stick a fork in them and call it a day. And there's no better way to do so than busting out one of the super moves at your disposal. Keyword here... one. In a final display of "sod off we're doing it our way" style defiance, Capcom forced players to be a little more selective where their super attacks were concerned. Rather than having access to the series standard 2 or 3 different arse pounding finishing moves, players were required to select a single attack that best suited their style of play from a menu at the start of the game. And while this radical thnking flew in the face of the atypical "more is better" attitude so prevalent in many of gaming's best sequels, the extra attacks were hardly missed. Yeah, you heard me! You still had your standard special moves, your Hadokens, your Shoryukens and what have you, but now players were required to show a little more intelligence when planning their super attacks. It's kooky and it's crazy, but it's also a hell lot more involving and there's nothing wrong with that! Oh and don't get me started on the brilliance that is the dash function either. Just because you think you're out of reach doesn't mean I can't still make you hurt...

Finally as if to prove a point, Street Fighter 3's once meager line-up of fighters blossomed with Third Strike to include a total of 20 characters. Each of which rivalled the classic designs of Street Fighter 2 in terms of both aesthetics and simple charisma. Sure we may have been busy missing our old school friends, but these new kids were well and truly every part their equal. The fact that each character was also carefully designed to incorporate a fine balance of techniques both new and old could also be seen as being something of a bonus. Remy may have looked as if he had flown in fresh from the latest SNK update, but a few minutes with him was all it took for players to see that he handled much like their perennial favorite Guile once did. Only now with an improved move set and a few extra arse whoppin' tricks ups his sleeve... and BANG! We were back on semi-familiar ground again. Hugo played like a German Zangief while Necro was a whack job Russian Dhalsim. Meanwhile many of the other combatants were 100% fresh and good to go. The shape shifting Twelve marked a new direction for Street Fighter characters while the twins Yun and Yang gave the hardcore another definition of perfection to strive for. Toss in a few series stalwarts such as Ken and Ryu and suddenly you had all your bases covered. Hurah for brotherly love! Hurah!

So there you have it. Something old, something new, something borrowed and well, not much blue... and still for some reason Third Strike totally failed to inspire the masses. It had skill and strategy out the yin yang and yet chances are you didn't actually play it. Shame on you! It's against all adversity then that Street Fighter 3: Third Strike has finally made its way to the Playstation2. Previously only available on the Dreamcast, Third Strike has up until now languished in relative obscurity as only the most hardcore of fight fans or Capcom fanboys bothered to seek out its greatness. And come to think of it, perhaps it was this extended exile on a niche/extinct console that made the potentially crowd pleasing Third Strike the mostly unknown classic that it is today. Of course, where the hardcore go howeverthe nit picking is sure to follow. And if you were to stop and listen to what is being said, you might heard how this version of Third Strike is something of a flawed masterpiece. Apparently the resolution isn't as high as it should be, and the loading times aren't as fast as they used to be. Now if you understand what a non-integer-ratio pixel resize artifact is, or if you have the patience of a spoilt brat, then perhaps the Dreamcast release really is for you. The rest of us however probably won't care...

After all, where the common Joe is concerned there is nothing fundamentally wrong with this release. The character animations are smooth and flawless, almost to a tea. Hair ripples in the breeze, muscles flex and the many attack animations look as if they would leave you in a world of pain. *shoorryyuukenn* Yowzer! That's sure to leave a mark! Street Fighter 3: Third Strike is 2d hand drawn splendor the way that all good fighters used to be. Only now Capcom have really hammered home the benefits of such old school stylings as the cartoon-esque graphics literally leap of the screen. We don't want, need or even care for your polygons! Be gone with them you heathens! The fact that each background is also a lusciously drawn mini masterpiece hasn't hurt matters either. Chock full of the little eye pleasing details that make you happy to be a traditionalist, they are as every part a classic as the their predecessors continue to be. From the plains of Africa to the rain soaked streets of Hong Kong and the dank subways of New York city, variety such as this is always welcome. They weren't once called the World Warriors for nothing you know!

Ultimately however whether or not you'll find yourself attracted to Street Fighter 3: Third Strike is going to depend upon a list of variables almost too numerous to calculate. Do you own a Dreamcast? Did you snub your nose at this game all those years ago? Do you care what a non-integer-ratio pixel is? Can you see past the controversial changes in order to appreciate the new? On and on it goes it and slowly you begin to wonder if even now, does Street Fighter 3: Third Strike stand a snowball's chance in hell... who knows... but I for one can tell you that what we have here is a standout moment in the history of 1on1 fighters. The controls are impeccable, the music is arcade like, and the action comes thick and fast while you're forced to learn a whole new bag of tricks. Really, what more could you possibly want from a fighter? Third Strike is a game that deserves its moment in the limelight, more so now as the curtain begins to fall on this the final chapter in the Street Fighter legacy. It needs, no demands, no, has earned the right to be recognised as the classic it is. And the fact that it still hasn't is simply a crying shame. So go on then, do yourself a favor and put your prejudices behind you. Stick your neck out and accept Street Fighter 2's younger brother for what it is. Trust me, you're about to make a new best friend...

* The controls are tight, flawless and impeccable
* There's a wide selection of new fighters
* Even with 20 fighters things are incredibly balanced
* Simplified gameplay evokes a more strategic mindset from players
* The parry system works a dream
* Special attacks are now special
* Each of the characters has been beautifully animated to include the most gorgeous of details
* Hand drawn backgrounds showcase exactly how great 2d fighters can look
* The Street Fighter rap is as corny and lovable as ever
* At only 3,800yen it's truly a bargain

* Capcom should have included the other versions of Street Fighter 3 as well
* Some will bemoan this conversion for its non-integer-ratio pixel resize artifacts

midwinter's avatar
Community review by midwinter (August 27, 2004)

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