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SummaryStreet Fighter 3 - 3rd Strike? You've gotta be kidding me...
The GoodThe fact that this actually adds something to the Street Fighter series. After numerous semi-sequels to SFII, such as the Alpha series which seemed to offer little but new characters and/or very slight tweaks to the game mechanic, or the Ex Plus Alpha series which simply moved the game into the third dimension and slowed it down considerably, Capcom finally decided to actually get off it's arse and make a "true" sequel. Unfortunately, Street Fighter III never made it's way to Europe. Neither did Street Fighter III: Double Impact. In fact, it was only until the third title of the third series was released that us common folk got to see the series. And what a revelation it was. Hugely enhanced graphics, a major cut-down on shotokan/projectile warrior dominance thanks to some serious balancing of characters, the removal of many of the existing characters and, most importantly, the introduction of a (relatively) easy to use parry move (much more natural to use than the Alpha series' parry technique). The System Direction mode was also an extremely welcome addition, enabling users (well, those who'd completed the game with every character) to configure the game exactly as they liked - you want air blocks? You got it. You want no block damage/block damage off even "normal" attacks? Fine! Hell, you can even get rid of the parry feature if you really want to. Customisability is a wonderful thing. The new characters are, on the whole, excellent too. The returning heroes are Ryu, Ken, Akuma and Chun-Li. So, three shotokaners and one super-fast all-rounder - so far, so normal. However, meeting them is a wide range of characters, most influenced by past creations, but all individual enough to be worthy of acceptance. First we have Alex, a moderately fast grappler, with good enough basic attacks and agility to be fairly effective against all but the fastest opponent. Next up is Dudley - think Balrog (as in the western Balrog - the boxer from the original StreetFighter 2) but with a bit more speed and variety in his attacks; therefore much more effective. We have brothers Yun and Yang, who're both extremely fast characters, though very different to play - Yun has the most powerful and fast single attacks, while Yang relies more on quick combos and evasive attacks in his repertoire of moves. Twelve is an unusual character with unorthodox moves, due to him being made of a malleable white material. Q is a huge, lumbering character with extremely powerful attacks, though I found him to be quite a difficult character to use effectively; I've never been much of a fan of power-characters. Hugo is another huge, slow character, though he relies more on death-dealing throws and his long reach on his attacks. Necro bares obvious similarities to Dhalsim, with his extendable limbs, though he lacks the teleportation moves and generally relies more on power. Sean is a Dan-alike, practicing a very... familiar style, as it were, though he has no Gadoken (sadly? I'll leave that up to you). He's certainly more effective than Dan though, as he's hard to predict and, thanks to the parry system, is able to effectively deal with shotokaners. Remy is another... less effective character, though he does have a fairly decent counter-attack special. Unfortunately, most of his specials rely on charge motions, and he's not quite fast enough to make up for his lack of power or endurance. Elena is a balletic character, who uses her long limbs, high agility and ability to mix up her attacks to out-maneuver the opponents. Quite an effective character, who can prove particularly infuriating for the defensive opponent. Oro is a bit of an oddity - short and one-armed, he features outlandish attacks and is adept at wrong-footing his opponents. Urien is a large, powerful character, with a range of projectile and damaging attacks, who is only let down by his lack of speed. Makoto is a young girl who practices a style of karate which relies mostly on heavy and fast attacks. She's particularly effective against shotokaners, and it has been noted that she seems to combine the power of Ryu with the speed of Ken, at the cost of having no projectile attacks. Ibuki is an aerial monster, who's extremely fast and agile, and extremely good at confusing the enemy with her acrobatic attacks. Finally Gill, the final boss, is an extremely tough cookie, with both power and speed... but you were expecting that, right? In all, a nicely varied list, and one which features only a few projectile users (Gill, Urien, the older streetfighter members, Ibuki and Remy, though both Necro and Twelve possess pseudo-projectile attacks) by StreetFighter standards, which will likely come as a relief to most people. In all, SFIII-3rd Strike is an extremely pleasant surprise, as it corrects virtually everything that was flawed in the past series, as well as introducing a new cast of warriors, plus more configuration options than you can shake a stick at.
The BadUm... the music ranges from effective to annoying, and some of the sound-effects aren't as nice as you might think. Once you've completed the game in one player mode with every character (which should take you quite some time) there's not much else to do in single player mode. But then, you didn't buy it for the single player... did you?