For various reasons, Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike never managed to achieve the same level success as its predecessor. Some players were put off from the series due to the lack of returning characters while others couldn’t get into it as easily since it was so technical. A dying arcade scene didn’t help either. SFIII: 3rd Strike Online Edition for PSN and XBL manages to do something I never expected it to. It tries to capture a new audience with helpful additions while retaining everything else the hardcore loved. Basically, Capcom made the game easier to appreciate and fully grasp.
For starters, there’s a trial mode. There are multiple types of trials. You’ll have one that goes through the basics, more expert level situations, various handicaps, and trials for each character. The character trials are similar to the ones from Street Fighter IV and other fighting games. You just have a series of combos to complete and you’re done.
In addition to parry trials, there’s a training mode dedicated solely to parrying. You can take control of the second player in this mode and player one will parry every single attack. You can record the actions and play it back and then try to do the parries for yourself. This mode will be most useful if you want to test every possible situation to learn the timing of crazy mixups or whatever else you can think of. What’s great is that the AI will parry every attack you do, giving you the opportunity to see the timing for yourself.
There’s also a challenge mode. There’s basic challenges, expert challenges, and ones for each character in the roster and arcade mode. These challenges can be seen on the left side of the screen when you’re playing the game and it updates in real time. For instance, I needed to win a certain amount of matches with Chun-Li. Each time I did, the counter increased. The challenges are pretty basic, some require you to hit certain moves and do things of that nature. It’s basically like a set of achievements to accomplish that you otherwise would never pay attention to. If you’re the type of gamer that wants objectives then you’ll love challenge mode.
Using points acquired through completing various challenges can unlock tons of different Street Fighter artwork. Each character has their own set of art to unlock and so much more. There’s even an option for downloadable content. No clue what that will be used for at this point.
There are dipswitches for nearly everything you can imagine. Want to have all three Super Arts instead of just one? You can enable such an option. You can turn on the ability to cancel normal moves, cancel super moves into super moves, disable target combos, and so much more. You can check out the gallery at the end to see all five pages of dipswitches. It’s not something that will be used competitively since there are standards to play on, but it’s cool to have when you just want to mess around with whatever.
In terms of screen options, there’s stretched, normal, arcade, and wide. Arcade tries to replicate the look of a screen, so the corners are a bit more rounded instead of just flat. It looks quite well and it doesn’t appear to change the playing field in any way, so that’s cool. For the most part, you’ll want to stick with normal if you want to play the game as it should be played. If that’s not enough for you, there’s still a screen adjust option to manually configure it to your liking. I couldn’t find an option to remove borders or even remove challenges from showing up on the left side of the screen. It’s not that big of a deal though.
Capcom uses a few different screen filters in attempt to improve the visuals. There’s crisp, smooth, none, and you can also turn scanlines on or off. I found crisp to look the most appealing on the HD TVs set up at E3, although none might be the more popular choice for purists. Although the graphics remain untouched aside from some filters, everything else has received a facelift and it looks quite good. This is not a halfhearted port of a ten year old game.[drop2]The control configuration is the same as it is in Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix. All you need to do is press the button to the command. There is no scrolling like in Street Fighter IV. Seriously, this should be the way it is in all fighting games but it isn’t for some reason. It’s nice to see that 3rd Strike Online Edition uses a practical and easy to use setup.
3rd Strike Online Edition is supposedly an arcade perfect port. Whether or not this is completely true without any hitches remains to be seen. There’s only so much one can test in a short period of time and it’s definitely possible that some random bugs can creep in unintentionally. Having said that, I don’t think it will be an issue. This game is clearly a labor of love. Capcom is aiming to please the fans that supported the game and continue to do so while also opening up the gameplay to a new audience with all the additional features.
Online multiplayer wasn’t playable at the show, but I did get some details on what it’ll have to offer. As announced there will be support for GGPO, which is something the community has been wanting for all fighting games for ages. GGPO is known for handling latency issues in a clever way that might make you believe that there’s not any lag at all.
Aside from what we already knew, there will be a lobby system with support for up to eight players and you can spectate matches. You can save replays (from local matches or online matches) and upload them to the game server or upload them directly to YouTube. It’s possible to search for replays online, watch with friends in a lobby with up to seven other people and talk on voice chat.
You can even “watch a live stream of whatever the best match is at the time”. Full details have not been revealed yet, but the best match is apparently figured out by some sort of algorithm so that you’re not wasting your time watching noobs. If it ends up working as intended, this could be a really neat feature. I’m not exactly sure how it’s possible to know what the best match is if it’s a live stream. Perhaps I misunderstood the concept because of the word choice used. It might just be the same as watching a replay that someone else uploaded to the server. I was most intrigued by this mode but I couldn’t get additional details.
Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike Online Edition really impressed me. There are so many options and extras packed into the game, it easily justifies the $14.99 price point. Capcom put so much effort into making it the best title, and although it is aimed for fans of the original, the new additions make the entry to such a high level and technical game just that much easier and more appealing. Capcom is hoping to get the game out in late summer, possibly in the month of August.