Streets of Rage 3 has a bad reputation for a classic game. Maybe it's because it came after Streets of Rage 2, which is easily one of the best games ever made. A classic prequel can be a hard thing to live up to. When I first got the game I really didn't like it that much, but the more I played it the more I came to appreciate it. The gameplay is a subtle reworking of Streets of Rage 2 that improves on its predecessor in almost every way - no easy task considering Streets of Rage 2's sublime gameplay. The new special bar makes the special move system perfect. The addition of a dash move for the characters and not just Skate makes the action less static. Other little touches, such as the fact you no longer drop your weapon when grabbing a punk, or the way that the charcters are now really different to play and require different strategies, will be appreciated by those (like me) who have played the series to death.

The new innovative levels, with interactive features are great fun as well. The introduction off features from Rage 1, such as alternate endings, team attacks and holes in the floor to dispose of enemies are also welcome bonuses. Also brilliant is the addition of inter-level cut scenes that actually give the game a (if quite improbable) plotline.

The gameplay itself is much faster; try playing this after playing Streets of Rage 1 or 2 - you will really feel the increase in speed. The graphics and animation are also superior to Streets of Rage 2. The difficulty problem has also been solved, as this game certainly cannot be walked through first time.

With all these improvements, you'd wonder why most fans regard this game as weaker than Streets of Rage 2. Well, Streets of Rage 3 certainly has it's downpoints.

Firstly, the music is average with the exception of a few tunes. It rarely gets anywhere close to the musical masterpieces found in Streets of Rage 1 & 2. The sound effects occasionally skip (this happens both in my PAL version and my import versions), which is annoying. Dr. Zan is a poor substitute for Max and not half as much fun to play. The game is also a tiny bit too difficult to beat as well.

Probably the biggest problem is that the game just feels like Streets of Rage 2 Part II instead of a third Streets of Rage game. Many of the levels lack the imagination and excitement of Streets of Rage 2. Obviously the programmers were working with the idea that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Also, having played Bare Knuckle III, it is annoying to see how badly Sega of America converted it into Streets of Rage 3. Although some bugs have been fixed, many of the changes are either pointless and/or negative, as in the case of the changed costumes for the characters. Overall Streets of Rage 3 is a fine, but unoriginal game that is best suited to players who have played the first two games through many times and can appreciate the improvements.


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