Review by Moochthemonkey

" An outstanding game that falls just a tad short of its prequel."

Sega has made a dazzling sequel to Streets of Rage 2, unsurprisingly. In this work, you have control over three of the classic characters and one new; the hard-line Axel, the acrobatic Blaze, and the groundbreaking Skate, and the new mysterious Dr. Zan. Just as you thought Mr. X was finished for good last time, he and his line of cronies are back again. And this certainly won't be a tea party.

Apparently, a few blows to the face were not enough to terminate Mr. X, and his evil oppression against what once used to be a peaceful city. Apparently a rather unique, unrealistic (but futuristic) storyline was in need to provide the comeback of the evil boss this time, in nothing but a talking, brain form. Now it is your turn to stop the madness once again, in several breathtaking levels, packed with dozens of bone-crushing attacks from four sizzling characters( a few being unlockable), and this time, try to put Mr. X to rest, for good. Hopefully. The story mode is much more in depth this time; you will have cut scenes in between stages and all, multiple endings, as well as characters talking face to face. (Text boxes only, of course.)

The attacks and moves have improved a bit from the last Streets of Rage. Two of the most prominent features are that each character has the ability to run and roll. Axel's run-slide-uppercut act makes Skate's moves almost pointless. Each character have their own skills and weaknesses. Axel is the best around, his karate moves and top notch assaults are guaranteed to fasten a punk's face into the dirt. Skate is the fastest out of all the characters, and he has some sweet extreme skills too. He has great jumping moves, even though his power isn't all that great. Blaze, who has been in every game in the series, remains the same. Her attacks are rather blase but acrobatic. Lastly Zan, the only new character, is a suitable presence in place of the belligerent wrestler, Max. Zan has great power and speed, and unique attacks, which we all owe to him since he is half robot. Oh, and there will be a couple unlockable characters… That will lead to rather a surprise and a chuckle of laughter. The unnecessary time limit has also been taken away and been replaced with an unneeded system meter, which tells you when to use your health-consuming special attacks. Sega has also come back with the same variety of weapons this time, from knives to baseball bats to grenades. Weapons have stats to and different levels, a wooden plank wouldn't last as long as a wooden stick. Put use to all these weapons and moves, and make this game an enjoyable experience!

Sega has also innovatively introduced a revamped, sweeter two-player mode. Even though the duel mode (when you and a friend go head to head alone in a brawl) was rather lame, the two-player adventure mode is much better. The big deal is that, you and a teammate can fuse to make combo attacks! This just gives the game an even more pleasurable experience.

While a few enemies from the previous version where left out and only a minority where added, the level conditions are more interactive this time, making Streets of Rage 3 one of the more automated games on the system. You will have to watch out for laser beams, poisonous smoke, tractors, walls, and other machines and mechanisms that you will have to destroy with your own two fists and boots. Sometimes you will even have to maneuver through stages like a puzzle. The levels are about the same size, but there isn't as many stages to race through as there was in the prequel. Thankfully, there are more levels for each difficulty you play, and even better, there is hidden paths that you will want to check out and play through!

The graphics have been brought up a notch; the character sprites are much more anticipated and more agreeable. The level designs are well developed also, there is plenty of detailed scenery and animated backgrounds. Each level has its own unique, advanced distinctiveness, which multiple other games from the Genesis lack. As I said before, there are interactive level designs that are an excellent upgrade from its predecessor. Now the graphics where greatly designed in this game, but it is pity that Sega's music in this game is so diverse, and it really doesn't flow with the levels. Such a pity, I would say that Streets of Rage 2 would have had one of the best soundtracks of all time in its day. The background music is monotonous, and not only does it lack a professional composition it seems like Sega didn't bother to use the same technology they did when creating tracks for its prequel. However, I would say that the sound effects are not much of an improvement but are not any worse than Street of Rage 2's. Clashing sounds and character groans are the same, there realistic enough for a Genesis game. Rational thuds and thumps are made when enemies are hit, annoying humming noises are made while the environments are moving, and that is what you would expect for in a Genesis games, right?

Despite the strange music, there is only one thing that prevented me from giving this game a perfect score; the amount of challenge. Streets of Rage 2 may have been on the easy side, but this time, the sequel is a bit on the tough side of the steak. I liked the easiness of Streets of Rage 2, because it was just pure enjoyment to smash the punks into the ground with finesse. When I am playing a beat ‘em up title, I like to be the one to be in control. However, in this piece, it seems as if I was thrown into the back seat. Instead of giving my opponents knuckle sandwiches, it appears as if I am the one tasting my foe's fist, and quite frankly, it doesn't taste good this time. For example, I cannot complete the game on easy mode, without breaking a sweat. If the length was just as long as Streets of Rage After a while though, when I got more experienced with the game, I enjoyed the challenge, and if I got to frustrated, I knew I could always move back to Streets of Rage 2, for some treatment.

Overall, replayablility and the enhancements patch up the flaws to make this a near perfect game, 9/10. It wasn't as good as Streets of Rage 2, but this is still a worthy competitor of all the other fighting and beat em' up titles out there. This is the last Streets of Rage that will come out on the Genesis, so you better purchase this. You definitely will not want to miss out on this spectacular finale!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 05/26/04

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