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Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike Review

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Even if you completely disregarded Street Fighter III upon its initial release, Third Strike Online Edition is still worth checking out.

The in-game achievement system keeps you informed about your current status.

Do you like Street Fighter III? If you already have an opinion on the game, then all you really need to know about Capcom's new Online Edition release for Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network is that the elements surrounding the game are nicely done, intelligently designed versions of the modes and options we've come to expect from a modern fighting game. It also uses GGPO, the netcode that's often hailed as the great savior for online fighting games. It's certainly capable of playing a perfect-feeling game online. But it's probably important for you to know that Third Strike Online Edition is not going to magically turn a bad connection into a good one or anything like that.

As for the game itself, it's a more technical fighting game than most, with a parry system that puts a greater emphasis on timing. Third Strike also has plenty of things that carried right over into Street Fighter IV, like EX moves and using the two light attack buttons to throw. So if you played a lot of the SFIV series, plenty of those skills will carry over. But you'll have to brush up on a lot of characters that didn't make it into other Capcom fighters, like the robot-in-a-trench-coat, Q, or the weird, slightly gelatinous mutant, Twelve. Back when it was all new, the roster of Street Fighter III was just disappointing. Where were all the characters that people actually enjoyed using? Your Guiles, your Hondas, your Sagats? Removed from that context, though, the characters are just fine, and it's actually sort of exciting to have a "new" cast of characters and new sets of attacks to learn and protect against.

The emulated arcade game feels just fine, when compared to the arcade version. It's a standard six-button fighter, and it's best played with a proper joystick, though it has some of the most flexible and easily edited control options around, so even if you're playing with filthy animals who like their buttons in weird spots, it's easy to swap those around on the fly. Like plenty of other emulated arcade games, Third Strike has several display options, like scan lines and smoothing options to iron out some of the rough pixels of the original artwork. Personally, I like that rough, pixelated look, even if it starts to look a little too blocky when it zooms in on the game's super attacks. It has the standard sort of training modes, letting you practice your best stuff against dummies or even record inputs with one character and then try to parry the playback of those inputs with the other. A set of challenges gives you combos to learn and a set of parry challenges further drive home the importance of learning the timing on every other move in the entire game. There's also a robust replay system and a ton of additional dipswitches that essentially let you rebalance the game yourself, if you feel like you're up to the challenge.

Online, you can get up to eight players together and either play tournament style or in a simple round robin style. When building an unranked player match lobby, you can even ban up to three characters, just in case you're sick of seeing Ken everywhere you go. Ranked games are limited to two players and are played with the default settings. Winning ranked games earn you rank points, which funnel into an overall rank that gives you a basic indication, at least, of how many fights a player has won. Some of the menu flow could have been better throughout the online modes. Ranked games dump you back out to the menu instead of offering an easy "next match" option. In unranked lobbies, readying up is done as a toggle with one button, so if you don't realize that you're already ready already and tap that button, it'll automatically send you to the back of the line. Minor stuff, overall.

You can stretch the screen out to 16:9 if you're some kind of filthy monster who can't handle the proper aspect ratio. Seriously, don't be crazy, play it 4:3.

The performance online is totally fine, provided you're matched up with a player to begin with. Like many other Capcom games, Third Strike seems to have trouble getting people connected, and plenty of my attempts to join ranked games have been met with a "Join Failed" error, which sends you back to the menu instead of just rolling along and trying to find another opponent. It displays a ping icon when you're matched with another player, but this doesn't always mean that you'll find a smooth game. When you're fighting on a poor connection, the game begins to behave erratically. That shouldn't shock you. But the way it responds can be a little jarring. Instead of limiting you on the input side, the game quickly "rewinds" a few frames whenever it gets out of sync. This keeps the game feeling as it should at all times, but the glitchy look of these rewinds can be really crazy. It can also change the course of a fight right before your eyes.

In one especially close online fight, I landed a killing blow, and the sound effect for a KO started playing. Then it rewound a bit back into the fight and showed me what really happened: the other guy smoked me, and I lost the fight. From a latency and network perspective, this is a more accurate take on the fight that makes sense. But in the moment, I think I would have preferred a game that lied about that stuff and got latent the way other fighting games do. Either way, it looks and sounds really crazy when it starts happening and it'll take some getting used to.Every mode is tied together via an in-game achievement system that gives you unlock points for completing specific tasks. Some of these are multilevel challenges, too, so you'll get some points for throwing, like, 10 projectiles, but you'll get more once you throw 500 of them. Some of these are designed to get you into the different modes, and others are character-specific. The points you earn can be used to unlock music and concept art from a separate menu, which isn't a terrific reward, but the points system and the way they're displayed in-game give you some interesting extras to strive for along the way.

It comes from a weird spot in history, but now might just be the right time for Street Fighter III. With SFIV out there satisfying players who want to use that classic cast, there's plenty of room for a game that uses some similar ideas but gives you plenty of new characters to learn and master. And the features that live around the edges of the game are really well-done. It's unfortunate that it isn't easier to get into online matches, but overall, if you're looking for some more characters to beat around, play Third Strike. It's a good game.

Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
64 Comments
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Posted by skyline7284

FIGHT!

Posted by zombie2011

Never played 3rd strike, the characters seem crazy so I'm kind of interested.

Posted by SaturdayNightSpecials

So what you're trying to say is that this game is fine?

Posted by Enigma777

After playing the demo, I'm kinda glad I didnt preorder it. Not saying it's a bad game, just not for me...

Posted by ThePhantomnaut

PLAY 3RD STRIKE. IT'S A GOOD GAME.

Posted by csl316

Like most fighting games, it looks awesome but I'm too intimidated to learn.

Except for Tekken, I can still knock out fools in Tekken after all these years.

Posted by Doctorchimp

3rd Strike scrub league?
 
Also guys remember when you host a player match with some buddies and you have a couple randoms join in and out to ban Gill.
 
I was playing today and I was surprised how many people just wanted to walk into a room with Gill and leave...

Posted by TheUnsavedHero

Great fighting game. Top number 1. Also helps that Q is in it. X)

Posted by SomeJerk

IMPORTANT:

- The PS3 version has offline frame lag (1F but feels like more)

- The 360 version is fine offline

:<

Posted by LiquidSwords

When Third Strike came out I was siked but never really got to play it. The arcades in my area and local mall had closed down for good. Would randomly play it here or there but never got the feel for it. Might pick this up latter soon.

Posted by Doctorchimp
@SomeJerk said:

IMPORTANT:

- The PS3 version has offline frame lag (1F but feels like more)

- The 360 version is fine offline

:<

I also heard the PSN isn't all too kind with GGPO.
 
It probably has to do with whatever little offline lag adding on top of online lag though right?
Posted by TheYear20XX
Posted by Napalm

It's cool it functions, but Third Strike was never my cup of tea.

Posted by The_Nubster

" Either way, it looks and sounds really crazy when it starts happening and it'll take some getting used to.Every mode is tied" 
 
NICE NO SPACE AFTER THE PERIOD YOU UNCULTURED DOG. DONT YOU EVER SPELLCHECK. 
 
I'm joking. Good review. I like the idea of a parry-anything counter system, and the stuff surrounding it, like in-game achievements, sounds really cool. I might get this.

Posted by MrMazz

I never played Third Strike have been playing a lot of SFIVAE. I'm digging Third Strike it feels really nice all around great game. I haven't run into any connection issues other than normal internet crap when your connection sucks. Only real complaint is that finding a ranked match can take like 10 seconds or so, so yea.

Posted by Keeng
@Enigma777 said:
After playing the demo, I'm kinda glad I didnt preorder it. Not saying it's a bad game, just not for me...
That's how I felt, too. I was pumped going in but when I played it, I realized that it's almost impossible for me to get into it.  SFIV took the best parts of it and then added to them with stuff like Ultras, Focus Attacks, a great soundtrack, and of course much better graphics.  
 
I compared it to playing a year's worth of Starcraft 2 and then suddenly going out and buying the original Starcraft. The latter is a fantastic game, don't get me wrong. But the sequel enhanced everything good about the first one, making the original, in some ways unplayable.
Posted by Lemoncookie01

I ran into Jeff playing 3rd strike a few hours ago,he whooped my ass with Remy.

Posted by Nottle

I never felt like the SF2 line up was that great. You got the obvious 3, Ryu, Chun-Li, and Ken. The there is Guille, Zangeiff.  and E. Honda. M. Bison is pretty cool, but then you got some people like Blanka, Vega, and Dhalsim, those guys would fit right in with the SF3 guys.  
 
Also creating a entirely new roster helps evolve fighting games. 

Posted by tlriven

I'm really happy SF4 went back to the classic characters we know and love.  I'm all about evolving the series, but the character roster for this one was just didn't seem to fit in with the SF universe I was familiar with.

Posted by DarkbeatDK

Been playing 3rd Strike with friends all afternoon. We don't play a lot of games together, so it's nice to play something that everyone wanna play.

Maining Sean here.

Posted by lockwoodx

I have it for my 3do. That's all I need.

Posted by George_Hukas

At least its fun with friends. What good is GGPO if everyone has such a shitty connection? Maybe one day the network infrastructure in this country will be competent enough to support online gaming.

Posted by Dan_CiTi

I do love this game and bought it today. Great port and all that. Wish my execution was better, sloppily playing SSF4AE on and off has not really helped that either. 

Posted by SexualBubblegumX

Oh Third Strike... Such amazing gameplay and such a terrible character roster. Man When SF3 came out everyone hated it, still weirded out by how much love it gets now.

Edited by Pen
@csl316 said:

Like most fighting games, it looks awesome but I'm too intimidated to learn.

Except for Tekken, I can still knock out fools in Tekken after all these years.

Tekken is way, way more complicated than SF. Check out this beginners guide for reference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3DT6-oOZro&list=PL3D6E3F023AD41DAF&index=1&feature=plpp 
 
All the memorization of frame data, different throw techs, the wall system, and wakeup stuff that you need to know in Tekken is just absurd. Street Fighter's beauty is in its relative simplicity. You can more easily learn from your mistakes because you have fewer options, and while knowing the frame data is good for creating combos, it mostly resolves into you just knowing when a move is safe or unsafe to use.
Posted by csl316

@Pen said:

@csl316 said:

Like most fighting games, it looks awesome but I'm too intimidated to learn.

Except for Tekken, I can still knock out fools in Tekken after all these years.

Tekken is way, way more complicated than SF. Check out this beginners guide for reference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3DT6-oOZro&list=PL3D6E3F023AD41DAF&index=1&feature=plpp All the memorization of frame data, different throw techs, the wall system, and wakeup stuff that you need to know in Tekken is just absurd. Street Fighter's beauty is in its relative simplicity. You can more easily learn from your mistakes because you have fewer options, and while knowing the frame data is good for creating combos, it mostly resolves into you just knowing when a move is safe or unsafe to use.

Well, despite the "simplicity," I suck at most Street Fighters (except for Alpha 3, for some reason). And I've been playing SF since the original arcade version of 2 ('91), whereas I've only been playing Tekken since part 2 ('96).

My love of Tekken 2's music got me spending way, way more time with that series. And the fact that Tekken never really went through a dark period. Been playing the series consistently for 15 years, rather than the on/off nature of SF for the past 20.

Posted by SexualBubblegumX
@csl316
Alpha 3 is kind of a Dark Horse in the series. Although I LOOOOOVE that game. The fact Zoning is very very sitational and being a turtle gets you murdered makes it incredibly different to say SSF4:AE.
Edited by vinsanityv22
"You can stretch the screen out to 16:9 if you're some kind of filthy monster who can't handle the proper aspect ratio. Seriously, don't be crazy, play it 4:3."
 
I know that first line was sarcasm, but it's attitude like that keeps SFIII in the darkest niche of the fighting game annals. They always say the same kinda sh*t about playing these with arcade sticks too; like control pads are horrendous nightmarish machines that only the fattest, sickest wrecks of humanity will utilize. SFIII fanboys are some of the worst gamers out there. Glad SFIV avoided that sh**; just like SF2.
Posted by ThePhantomnaut

@SexualBubblegumX said:

@csl316: Alpha 3 is kind of a Dark Horse in the series. Although I LOOOOOVE that game. The fact Zoning is very very sitational and being a turtle gets you murdered makes it incredibly different to say SSF4:AE.

I also want to add that a skilled player on V-ISM is TOO DANGEROUS.

Posted by BBQBram

Will do.

Edited by wisdumcube

This review could have used more editing and proof-reading before being published.  "In one especially close online fight, I landed a killing blow, and the sound effect for a KO started playing." This sentence was a continuation of the last paragraph but it's formatted as the beginning of a new paragraph. Also, Jeff forgot a space and repeats the same vague vocabulary frequently when better descriptors could be used. It feels rushed.

Posted by SourceDecay

Downloaded the demo and it seems pretty great.  I'm just waiting for a SF Alpha 3 remake.  I can't be alone in adoring that game.

Posted by YukoAsho
I'm not entirely sure that the lack of classic characters was that influential on SFIII's failing.  Alpha 3 came out months after SF3: New Generation, with one of the largest casts the series had ever seen, including every one of the classic characters.  Sad truth is that arcades were on their deathbed, fighting games were over-saturating the market, and online play wasn't where it needed to be to make up for the loss of arcades.  Combine that with SFIII being Dreamcast-only for home release until Anniversary Collection, and it never really had a shot.
 
@vinsanityv22 said:
"You can stretch the screen out to 16:9 if you're some kind of filthy monster who can't handle the proper aspect ratio. Seriously, don't be crazy, play it 4:3."  I know that first line was sarcasm, but it's attitude like that keeps SFIII in the darkest niche of the fighting game annals. They always say the same kinda sh*t about playing these with arcade sticks too; like control pads are horrendous nightmarish machines that only the fattest, sickest wrecks of humanity will utilize. SFIII fanboys are some of the worst gamers out there. Glad SFIV avoided that sh**; just like SF2.
Dude, that's not just SF3, that's all older fighting games.  The fighting game crowd is fucking snobbish at times, like any competitive game's crowd.  That said, just stretching it out does distort the image, making everything look fatter and possibly screwing around with perspective.
Edited by HerbieBug

From review
Like many other Capcom games, Third Strike seems to have trouble getting people connected, and plenty of my attempts to join ranked games have been met with a "Join Failed" error, which sends you back to the menu instead of just rolling along and trying to find another opponent. 

This baffles me.  Capcom has messed this up in SFIV vanilla, SSFIV, SSFIVAE, MvC3 and now this.  That same join failed error (or similar wording) and a summary dump direct back to the very first multiplayer options menu.  Stop it!  Fix this!  Please! 

Posted by Skooky

I played the demo for about 30 minutes and realized that I still don't understand how Street Fighter works.

Posted by GioVANNI

Does this game require a stick more than SF4?  I played the demo and couldn't for the life of me get a shoryuken off with the joystick, but I can easily do it in SF4.

Posted by panda21

lol theres a Gamersyde watermark on the first image...

Posted by Vexxan

For someone who's just started to become interested in playing some Street Fighter: should I get this or SSFIV:AE?

Edited by TwoLines

@YukoAsho said:

I'm not entirely sure that the lack of classic characters was that influential on SFIII's failing. Alpha 3 came out months after SF3: New Generation, with one of the largest casts the series had ever seen, including every one of the classic characters. Sad truth is that arcades were on their deathbed, fighting games were over-saturating the market, and online play wasn't where it needed to be to make up for the loss of arcades. Combine that with SFIII being Dreamcast-only for home release until Anniversary Collection, and it never really had a shot.

@vinsanityv22 said:
"You can stretch the screen out to 16:9 if you're some kind of filthy monster who can't handle the proper aspect ratio. Seriously, don't be crazy, play it 4:3." I know that first line was sarcasm, but it's attitude like that keeps SFIII in the darkest niche of the fighting game annals. They always say the same kinda sh*t about playing these with arcade sticks too; like control pads are horrendous nightmarish machines that only the fattest, sickest wrecks of humanity will utilize. SFIII fanboys are some of the worst gamers out there. Glad SFIV avoided that sh**; just like SF2.
Dude, that's not just SF3, that's all older fighting games. The fighting game crowd is fucking snobbish at times, like any competitive game's crowd. That said, just stretching it out does distort the image, making everything look fatter and possibly screwing around with perspective.

Yeah, I'm going to say that's not just about fighting games, why would you ever stretch to 16:9? It distorts everything, it's not true 16:9, it makes everything look super ugly.

Edited by mnzy
@Vegsen said:

For someone who's just started to become interested in playing some Street Fighter: should I get this or SSFIV:AE?

AE. It's more newcomer friendly, I would even say it was made with that in mind.
3s was for people in Arcades that played Street Fighter for years.
 
 
Oh and I'm happy that it's almost as good as MK vs DC.
I kid, I kid.
Edited by bcrt2000

@YukoAsho said:

I'm not entirely sure that the lack of classic characters was that influential on SFIII's failing. Alpha 3 came out months after SF3: New Generation, with one of the largest casts the series had ever seen, including every one of the classic characters. Sad truth is that arcades were on their deathbed, fighting games were over-saturating the market, and online play wasn't where it needed to be to make up for the loss of arcades. Combine that with SFIII being Dreamcast-only for home release until Anniversary Collection, and it never really had a shot.

@vinsanityv22 said:
"You can stretch the screen out to 16:9 if you're some kind of filthy monster who can't handle the proper aspect ratio. Seriously, don't be crazy, play it 4:3." I know that first line was sarcasm, but it's attitude like that keeps SFIII in the darkest niche of the fighting game annals. They always say the same kinda sh*t about playing these with arcade sticks too; like control pads are horrendous nightmarish machines that only the fattest, sickest wrecks of humanity will utilize. SFIII fanboys are some of the worst gamers out there. Glad SFIV avoided that sh**; just like SF2.
Dude, that's not just SF3, that's all older fighting games. The fighting game crowd is fucking snobbish at times, like any competitive game's crowd. That said, just stretching it out does distort the image, making everything look fatter and possibly screwing around with perspective.

I think Capcom kinda just messed up by not including a proper 16:9 mode. They did it in both SFHDR (by cropping) and MvC2 (by expanding the visual area but not the play area). Also think they probably should have redrawn the backgrounds as well. Its crazy to me that they say this game cost them more to make than SFHDR but they barely did what I'd think would be the most expensive things (redrawing assets, adding proper widescreen).

Saying you should play it in 4:3 is not fighting game snobbery though, its more like videophile snobbery, and MOST of the time I fall into that camp. I'm the type of person who watches Standard def TV in 4:3 and not stretched like a mother. That being said with SF3 I've kinda made a compromise by using the "widescreen" mode but making the width of the image as small and height as tall as possible, giving something thats in between 4:3 and 16:9.

In terms of why SF3 failed, I think the cast is definitely a factor. Remember that SF2 was a pretty mainstream game. A lot of those players likely barely played the Alpha games, and even then Alpha 1's cast was pretty divergent. I can tell you though, I remember it clear as day when I first played 2nd impact that I was SOOOOOOO disappointed in the cast. (Years later I can appreciate and enjoy the cast though)

But there were other factors as well. As you said, the Arcades were dying, but remember that the biggest reason the Arcades were dying was because the PlayStation was taking over and giving better experiences than the arcade could offer. However, they never released a single edition of SF3 for PSX which I honestly think is the biggest factor as to why its seen as a failure and why the fighting genre went on life support. They eventually released Alpha 3 on PSX but after that many fighting games were regulated to a dead system in the Dreamcast and it wasn't until the latter part of the PS2 era that Capcom started publishing a bunch of fighting games for that system (which I think is what triggered the start of the fighting game revival).

I've always wondered what the course of fighting games would be if Capcom decided to make SF3 for PSX and if Midway didn't fuck up MK so bad by making MK4 really cheesy.

Posted by craigbo180

I already brought this on impulse on the marketplace on impulse as soon as I saw it. I have never played 3S so I can only hope I don't hate it.

Posted by mnzy
@HerbieBug said:

From review
Like many other Capcom games, Third Strike seems to have trouble getting people connected, and plenty of my attempts to join ranked games have been met with a "Join Failed" error, which sends you back to the menu instead of just rolling along and trying to find another opponent. 

This baffles me.  Capcom has messed this up in SFIV vanilla, SSFIV, SSFIVAE, MvC3 and now this.  That same join failed error (or similar wording) and a summary dump direct back to the very first multiplayer options menu.  Stop it!  Fix this!  Please! 

It's not all their fault: http://www.eventhubs.com/news/2011/jul/14/capcom-explains-xbl-psn-match-making-systems-what-they-control/
Posted by bibamatt

Just fine.

Posted by RedCricketChase

Mr. Gerstmann's review is a thinly-veiled evangelism for Intelligent Design.

Disgusting.

Posted by RamenBoss

@ThePhantomnaut: I agree. Play 3rd Strike. It's a good game.

And according to Jeff's last few words in his review, he also agrees.

Posted by Smuglittleman
@GioVANNI said:
Does this game require a stick more than SF4?  I played the demo and couldn't for the life of me get a shoryuken off with the joystick, but I can easily do it in SF4.
You betcha! SF4 has much more forgiving execution. 
Posted by handlas

tried the demo and parry challenges. So frustrating trying to parry super moves. I get 3 parries and can never get more after that.

Edited by Sooty

This is a 5 star re-release.
 
...aside from the connection issues being annoying.

Posted by Kratch

The weird characters are, initially, a turn off, but after you play with them and get used to them, you really start to love those kooky guys and gals. The animation and art is so detailed and character-specific that you can't help but get to know and enjoy the characters. I played a little last night, and I'd forgotten about the insane details and differences in character animation, like when Q, as an example, parries an attack and puffs up his chest and then wipes off the place on his coat where he was hit. If you play Third Strike enough, you'll come to see why some people go bananas when someone like Hugo is added to SF X Tekken.

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