The Japanese version of Street Fighter EX3 was fairly unimpressive, mostly due to its long loading times and extensive amounts of slowdown. Capcom has promised, however, that the US version of its flagship fighter will feature fully optimized code and, as a result, will be a much better game. But simply speeding the game up may not be the medicine Street Fighter EX3 needs to cure its ails.
To Capcom's credit, the game is noticeably faster this time around. There is almost no load time, no visible slowdown, and the frame rate stays nice and high. The game flows seamlessly from introductions to fighting, then from level to level without so much as a pause. And, when you beat the game, the Final Fight-style minigame never slows down. The game's speed is definitely a good thing, but the distinctly first-generation PS2 visuals seem a little dated at this point.
The game does look good, but compared to US-exclusive PS2 games, Street Fighter EX3 falls a little flat. Apparently, Capcom hasn't done anything to improve the game's graphics; all of the visual effects and animation look exactly the same as those in the Japanese version. You're now treated to a character ending when you beat the game in original mode, but it's an extremely lame looking piece of text that simply tells you what happened in oddly cryptic sentences.
Street Fighter EX3's sound hasn't changed, either. The same soundtrack and effects have been used for the US version. While the Japanese version's sound is generally acceptable, it would have been nice to see new sound effects and maybe even a US-exclusive track or two on the soundtrack. Additionally, while the game has been translated into English, the character voices are still in Japanese. It's unknown at this point if Capcom will have US actors translate the voice work into English.
While Street Fighter EX3 definitely benefits from fully optimized code, the lack of any other sort of enhancement for the US version really leaves the game in the dust of more recently developed US PS2 games. Hopefully Capcom will tweak the game more before it ships alongside the PS2 launch, but with so little time before then, that doesn't seem likely.