Fight Night Round 3 Review
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Fight Night Round 3 has its faults, but as an entire package is a fantastic game.
- A nearly perfected fighting formula along with fantastic multiplayer that truly packs a punch.
- The fighters, arenas, and the blood, sweat and lighting effects all look top-notch.
- Fight Night Round 3 has a terrible single-player mode dominated by long loading times.
- Lag and unreliable servers can be an issue online.
Electronic Arts' Fight Night series has always garnered high acclaim from reviewers and players alike for its high-speed gameplay and impressive graphics. When Fight Night Round 3 was displayed at Sony's E3 2005 Press Conference, EA promised this latest incarnation would benefit immensely from the horsepower of next generation consoles.
Fight Night Round 3's first real test was when it first debuted on Microsoft's Xbox 360. It was seen as a worthy addition to the series, but stopped slightly short of the jaw dropping demos circulated a few months before the game's launch.
For the PS3, EA decided to spend some extra time tweaking and adding a few more features over the 360 version. With the final product now shipped, a single question remains. Was the latest version of Fight Night Round 3 worth the wait? The answer is not as black and white (or black and blue) as you may think.
It starts at the core
Boxing is a fast paced sport with jaw-shattering punches guaranteed to have the crowd cheering. The very first goal of any boxing game should be to preserve this very elementary concept. Thankfully, FNR3 passes the first test.
A major concern with Fight Night Round 2 was how overpowered the haymaker was. The haymaker should really be a finishing move following a combination of jabs. In FNR2, there was virtually no punishment for blindly throwing the finishing combo move over and over. However, if you try this in FNR3, prepare to hit the ground. EA has done an excellent job refining the system. Now you must really think like a boxer to win a round.
Fatigue and injury also play huge roles, especially in the new first person view dubbed "Get in the Ring". Too much swelling to your left eye will cause the left side of your screen to literally go black. If your lips swell up from failing to defend your face, you may find yourself gasping for air instead of throwing that finishing punch in a combo.
With the standard control set, most of your punches such as jabs, hooks, and uppercuts will be mapped onto the right analog stick on the Sixaxis. Your right analog stick also serves for blocking and parrying punches in virtually every direction while holding R1.
The left analog stick functions to move your boxer around the ring or lean in all directions while holding L1. There are various other techniques such as clinching, switching stances, illegal blows, and signature (power) punches that all need to be used effectively to have any chance in the ring. Overall, the button layout functions well. Master using the analog sticks and buttons, and you will become a boxer even Mohammed Ali will fear.
Sting like a bee
As promised in the multiple trailers that came out before the game, replays of knockout punches may very well fling you out of your seat. While the physics and visual result of your replayed punches may not be perfect, the bone snapping crunch and flying saliva may be all it takes to get you wincing. This is where the Fight Night series' transition to next generation consoles truly shines.
The fighters themselves look fantastic as they punch, sweat, and bleed their way through rounds. Although there are only six arenas, they are all pretty detailed and feature impressive lighting. Sadly the crowd isn't quite as impressive.
The baying, cheering audience in sports games often has as much importance on the atmosphere as the virtual sports stars on the screen. Sadly, in FNR3 it's hard to tell whether the pixelated blobs watching the fight were even male or female.
One area where Fight Night particularly delivers is its audio. The rap soundtrack, while not to everyone's taste, fits perfectly with the presentation and feel of the game. Also the announcers are generally spot on and informative, albeit occasionally repetitive.
Finally, the gameplay audio in Fight Night will have you cringing - in a good way. Punches landing, fighters grunting, and the blood flying are all accompanied by some of the most brutal, intense sound effects you'll have heard. During the slow motion K.O. replays, you'll be ... (continued on next page)
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