|System: Xbox 360, PS3|
|Release: August 23, 2011|
|Players: 1-2, Online Tournament|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Suggestive Themes, Violence|
by Angelo M. D'Argenio
If you are a fighting game fan, you've probably played Street Fighter III: Third Strike at some point. Well, its new re-release, Street Fighter III: Third Strike Online Edition, doesn't actually change anything in the mechanics. Parries still work just as they ever did, Ken, Chun, and Yun still dominate the tier lists, and EVO Moment #37 still stands out prominently in our minds. So I'm not going to spend too much time on the fighting system; instead, I'm going to talk about the new features that Online Edition in particular brings to the table. Since it's called Online Edition, let's start with the online modes first.
Third Strike Online Edition uses GGPO, a netcode that treats fighting games a lot like first-person shooters. Instead of waiting for both players to synch up and introducing button delay to compensate for lag, GGPO runs two completely separate versions of the game on each player's console. It takes "snapshots" of the game at each frame and compares them. Should the snapshots not match up, the game corrects itself and then continues on. It's essentially a "rollback" system, and it does a magnificent job of hiding lag. Since each copy runs independent of the other, your combos and timing online are exactly the same as your combos and timing in real life. To this day, I would say that GGPO is the best solution to fighting game lag, and that makes Third Strike Online Edition one of the best online experiences in fighting games to date.
But only the hardcore will notice things such as two-frame latency issues, so let's talk about stuff that casual players will notice. The game has everything you have come to expect from an online suite, from ranked matches, lobby matches, and tournaments to spectator mode and leaderboards. It even gives players the ability to watch popular replays and upload their own replays to YouTube. If you are the type of player that drools over earning achievements, Online Edition has you covered. There are a series of challenges that must be completed in online matches. You can see these challenges update as you play matches, and successfully completing these challenges earns you "vault points" which unlock things like concept art, music, and movies.
There are also a number of single-player challenges that can be completed through the arcade or training modes. There is also a new "trials" mode which provides you with two sets of five challenges based around parrying (with the final being the famed Evo moment #37 itself), one set of challenges based around handicapped messages, and one set of combo challenges for each character. These are awesome new additions, and completing them earns you vault points. However, once again Capcom has missed a golden opportunity to add a well-thought-out tutorial to a popular game.
There is a wealth of information about Third Strike available on the net, and Capcom has included none of it in the game. The trials only teach you how to parry very specific moves and how to combo totally out of context. There's nothing about correctly choosing when to block and when to parry, universal overheads, mixups, poking, or any of the skills needed to actually be good at Third Strike. So once again, new players will come into this game hoping to learn what Capcom says is the best Street Fighter they ever made, only to get stomped on by veterans over and over and over again without any tools to get better. I hope Capcom eventually realizes they will never attract new players to their fighting game franchises without actually teaching them how to play.
Online Edition's training mode, on the other hand, is much better than its trial mode, and caters to the hardcore crowd. Not only do you get all the training options you got in the initial release of the game, you get a host of extra recording options as well. For example, you can record a pattern of opponent behavior, save the game state, and drop yourself into that pattern halfway through in order to teach yourself how to deal with it. There is also an extra "parry training" mode as well, in which you are able to control an opponent while your character parries everything with the exact timing needed. Then, you can play back what you did exactly and attempt to parry it yourself.
The rest of Online Edition's changes are purely aesthetic, but they're still a treat. You can play the game using a number of different visual filters in order to make it as smooth or pixelated as you like. You can toggle scanlines on and off, bow the screen to make it look like an arcade cabinet, and even turn widescreen on and off.