Review by Mageknight
"A few steps up and a few steps back"
Streets of Rage was a series that was pretty easy to get into and learn. All you needed to know was to beat down every punk and boss that stood in your way and repeat. This is what made the series good for 3 games while the sequels added things to make it even better. So how does Streets of Rage 3 stand out from the rest?
While Streets of Rage 1 and 2 had a minimal storyline that was told in the opening, Streets of Rage 3 had cut scenes between levels to expand the story. The story is that the Syndicate is back and has planted bombs in the city and is replacing top officials with robots. Blaze finds this out from Dr. Zan, a cyborg who used to work for the Syndicate. With the help of Axel and Skate, the team head out to take control of the streets for the 3rd time. The story somewhat does not make sense in some parts. For example, after completing level 1, Blaze suggests that she has an idea on where to go next, but does not elaborate on how she thought about it. Many similar plotholes fill the story, which makes you wonder if the characters themselves even know what is going on. Luckily, you do not need to understand the story too much. In fact, you can just skip the whole thing and dive into the game right away.
The game plays out the same way as the previous Streets of Rage. Attacks are used on the 2 button on the wii remote, 1 is for jumping, A is for special attacks. Pressing the attack button a few times can combo enemies and doing a jumping kick can knock them down. Walking up to enemies lets you grab them where you can smack them around, slam them into the ground, or throw them. Special attacks are stationary and directed. All characters now have the ability to run and can do a rolling dodge up or down by pressing forward or up/down twice. Previously, special attacks would always drain health, but this time, players have a meter that fills up over time and special attacks drain it. If it's full, special attacks won't cost health, but if it's not full, it will eat up health.
One thing players will notice is the lack of a timer, so now players can complete stages at their own leisure. The weapons range from bats, to swords, to knives, and even a long stick. However, weapons have their own health meter and will vanish once it's empty. Other items range from money bags for points to apples and chicken to regain health. In two player mode, players can now perform co-op attacks, a nice addition. Each character has different strengths and weaknesses. Axel has a lot of power but lacks jump and speed, Blaze is balanced, Skate has a lot of speed and jump, but lacks power and reach, while Zan has the most reach out of everyone. Battle mode returns in the game and it's a bit different. Weapons are no longer used and stages can scroll to the sides if the players go too far. The player who gets 2 wins will win the whole fight. Battle mode isn't a serious fighting game compared to other games, so it's more of an add on.
The graphics actually look a bit worse compared to Streets of Rage 2. They are less vibrant and look pretty muddy. Character sprites look smaller and seem to have less detail than the last game. The backgrounds are still pretty decent looking. While the sound effects are ok, the problem with it is they get cut out too much. For example, if you have your character swing a sword, sometimes it makes no sound at all. This makes the game look unfinished. The music is a hit or miss in this game. Some tracks sound good, but compared to Streets of Rage 1 and 2, most of the music is pretty lackluster and not too memorable. Not to mention that several tracks are recycled in many of the levels.
One big problem the game has is the difficulty. It's simply much harder than the previous games. The Japanese version had difficulty levels similar to the Streets of Rage 2 while the American version seemingly stepped it up. Easy seems like Normal, Normal seems like Hard, etc. Not only that, but if you try playing the game on Easy, you'll only go to stage 5, forcing you to play on a harder level to get the full story of the game.
Despite its short comings, Streets of Rage 3 is a solid game and is more fun to play with a friend. It can be short, but the tracking of high scores will probably make you come back for more.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 10/04/07
Game Release: Streets of Rage 3 (US, 09/24/07)
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