3D Streets of Rage 2 is finally out, and it truly does not disappoint. This review is going to be short and sweet, as the game has been out for many years, and it's already well known that this is considered by many to be the best beat-em-up ever created. The variety in gameplay between the 4 characters is still impressive. They each have fairly deep move lists as well. And the OST is as great as ever.
So why do you need to buy this game again? Most of us have played this game to completion dozens of times over the years, and already own a copy on another system.
What makes 3D Streets of Rage 2 truly shine is, predictably, the brand new 3D effects. I've been a skeptic of classic games being remade with 3D for a while now. I got 3D Excitebike, and 3D Streets of Rage 1, but neither really felt like it added anything substantial to the game. The 3D never felt truly easy to look at, and it felt like a tacked on additional gimmick. I'm happy to report that this is not the case with 3D Streets of Rage 2 at all! The 3D effect is so smooth and natural that you honestly feel like it should have been present from the start. It makes a flat, 2D game, feel like it inherently has depth. There are 3-4 tiers of layering that fall in into the distance. In addition, there is often another layer that sits on top of the characters, like the rain in the picture above, which now is separated out from the rest of the background and looks better than ever. With the constant movement in this game from the top to the bottom of the screen as you chase enemies, it even allows you to more accurately line up your shots against evasive foes. The 3D can be adjusted between "pop out" and "fall in." Fall in is clearly the way to go, and is the default setting. Pop out made me feel a little sick, so I didn't use it much. The other visual option available is the "classic" look, with emulates a curved, SD screen from a CRT TV. It's fun for a few minutes but you won't want to intentionally make the game look blurry, ever.
There is even the addition of a new mode, called Rage Relay. This mode has you select all four of the game's characters in order 1 through 4 on the character select screen, then limits you to only four lives. You get only one life with each character and have to try and make it through to the end. This really adds some much needed variety on subsequent replays. And on any difficulty mode above Normal, it's actually pretty challenging to beat the game with only one life per character! I know I'm a little bit weaker on some of the characters, and this forces you to master all of them.
The game has several difficulty modes as well, including Very Easy, Normal, Hard, Very Hard, and Mania. I tried Mania for maybe 10 minutes, and it was brutal, just on level one. You can also save the game now at any point. Other options include the ability to switch between International and Japanese versions of the game, but I'm not sure what the difference even is.
The overall package is very impressive. The graphics appear sharper than ever before, and combined with the 3D view, the game does not feel its age at all. Combined with the new Rage Relay mode, and the ability to play this on a portable anywhere on the go, this is simply the definitive version of the definitive beat-em-up. That makes this specific version, literally the best beat-em-up ever made.
If you're a fan of Streets of Rage 2 at all, you really can't go wrong with this fantastic port. It rises above a 9/10 because the port is so good, and the 3D effect is so stable and easy to look at, that it really sets the bar for the entire 3D classics line, and is proof that more of these need to be made. A well earned 10 out of 10.