Fight Night Round 3 - PS3 review

One of the launch titles for the PS3, is it a showcase title or an amateur performance? We step into the ring and find out.

Boxing games have a mixed history and the tale so far is less than impressive. Fight Night Round 3 looks to change all that, harnessing the power of the next-gen console. The results are impressive, and not just visually – the gameplay also packs a powerful punch (stop it, you’re killing me – Ed).

Staying with the visuals for a while, EA have done an outstanding job on the PS3. Even without an HD TV, the details are film-like – the replay showing incredible rendering of the fighters. There is certainly nothing to complain about in that department and the graphics play an important part in guiding you as to the condition of your opponent – rather than an energy bar, you can see them breakdown under a barrage of punches. The audio is also impressive, with a bespoke hip-hop soundtrack, interesting if predictable commentary and respectable feedback from landing punches.

Previously the problem has been a lack of realistic controls, meaning that you can’t really “box”, rather mash the buttons and hope for the best. Fight Night Round 3 brings more realism to the game with dedicated controls. You need to master these controls so that you step into the ring with a full arsenal. If your defence is lacking, then you will suffer. If you can’t string together combos, then you will have problems. Simply hitting the jab button will not get you anywhere, apart from knocked down.

The ability to lean brings a great control dynamic to Fight Night – as you can drop your guard and lean away from punches just as Amir Kahn would do. There are a number of control configurations, so find the one that works best for you – if you have trouble using both analogue sticks at the same time, you can switch to the buttons for some of your major controls. Pretty soon you lead what works for you and what feels natural - because once you start, it doesn’t take much for you to take on damage and hit the canvas.

If there was one criticism, I’d say that it was slightly too easy. After losing a few fights and then finding a technique, we quickly progressed through fights, claimed the amateur belt and went onto the pro circuit, having not progressed past the 4th round. Talking of rounds, the ring girls are stunning – I could see a spin-off based around them…

Out of the ring there are a number of elements that stop Fight Night Round 3 being too repetitive – training to gain new skills for example. There are a number of weight categories so you can take you pick, and within each category are a number of “classic” fighters – the ubiquitous Mohammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard and Ricky Hatton for example. The American influence makes itself felt here and boxing fans in the UK might feel a little short-changed that more British boxers didn’t make the cut.

Verdict

We didn’t expect much from Fight Night Round 3 based on previous boxing titles, but this is refreshing and very playable. The only reason we stopped was because of a blistering thumb – more training needed on that controller.

Finally - jerk the controller away from you and your fighter will throw in a quick headbutt on the fly. Great stuff.