Street Fighter III: Third Strike
Anyone who picked up Double Impact (the first two SF3 games bundled on one disc) for the DC might be a little timid about shelling out another 50 bones for the next revision of Street Fighter III. While I'd like to say that owning either release is sufficient for people who really appreciate the subtleties of the series, Third Strike is different enough from its predecessors that it's worth having in a true fan's game arsenal. Aside from boasting an additional six very worthwhile stock fighters, the souped-up sound and graphical superiority help make Third Strike a more solid gaming experience. Other additions include a new parrying style, though directional parrying has been dropped, and a revised combo system (some Second Impact combos won't work under the new system, however). If you've played it in the arcade, you can expect a perfect port, outside of the slightly smaller characters. SF2 players looking to get into the new series can expect a relatively high entry barrier--Third Strike has a very serious feel to it, and learning how to parry effectively can take a while. SF3 lovers already know they're gonna buy this when it hits stores, but the casual gamer is not going to notice a huge difference from Second Impact. Already have Double Impact and felt so-so about it? Make this one a rental. If you don't have Double Impact, get Third Strike first and pick up DI for a new perspective if you like the SF3 style.
The appeal behind Street Fighter III: Third Strike can be summed up in two words: Chun-Li. Yes, it's cheap the way Capcom released this title separate from the last SF III package (which contained the first two versions). But, on the other hand, Third Strike is much more than just a series of smalt upgrades like the ones that differentiated Second Impact from the original game. For one it's got Chun-Li, and she's got more animation than I've seen in any 2D game. Ever. To see her in motion is simply stunning. I've spent too much time with MvC2 lately though, so SF ill feels a bit slow and deliberate for my tastes, but it's still damn beautiful to look at.
May I say that this should really have come as a trilogy with Double Impact, but it didn't, so what's different? There are a bunch more characters, including Chun-Li. There's a deep fighting-system customization feature, which is cool (although there are no turbo settings). Backgrounds and characters aren't as vibrant or animated as those in Second Impact, but the soundtrack rocks (or "hip-hops" rather) beyond belief. If I were forced to pick one, I'd have to give the edge to Third Strike, as it is truly a hardcore gamer's game (but it's definitely missing a couple of things that only Second Impact can boast), still a keeper in any case.