Fight Night : Round 3
Developer: EA Sports
Publisher: EA
Release Date: Out Now
Players: 1-2
Words By:

I know NOTHING about Boxing. In fact I know so little that I still haven’t seen all the Rocky movies. I do however rather like the Fight Night games. In fact it was Fight Night 2 which got me through the barren week or so when my launch date 360 wasn’t delivered.

In fact I liked the first two Fight Nights so much that I used my own money and got a copy of Round 3 for said 360. Of course all those preview shots on the net and in magazines helped, they really did look gorgeous and seeing as I gave the demo a miss I was expecting Fight Night 2 but with next generation graphics. I could not really have been more right… and at the same time wrong.

For me the best Fight Night experience has always been the career mode - creating a boxer and seeing how far you could progress. Now anyone who has played the earlier games will know what to expect – you assign your boxer points in areas (such as strength, speed and stamina) and then choose your next opponent. As before each bout is preceded by an option to train. You have three types of training, of which only one can be undertaken at a time. Success will see a boost in some stats (along with a very slight decline of others)

The training allows you to set your boxers strengths and weaknesses; you could end up with a slow heavy hitter with a glass jaw, or a fast energetic boxer who punches with no power. The mini games are almost the same as before although the heavy bag has been really dumbed down. In fact all of the training sessions feel very easy and offer little or no challenge.

Once training is over it’s on to the fight proper and again there’s no real difference to before. The introduction, the ring entrance and the commentator, it’s all the same but with a 360 shine. Yes the graphics look nice and the move to high def has added some real clarity but it’s not what I was expecting from the screen shots, well not yet it’s not.

FNR3 still features the unique analogue “total punch control” – using the right thumbstick to throw punches and block attacks. It still works as well as it used to – jabs pulled off with quick flick off the stick whilst upper cuts and hooks require better timing and control. It stops the game becoming an exercise in button bashing (although the option is there if you prefer it) and makes you plan your attacks and watch for openings much, as I imagine, a real boxer would do.

I continued with the career mode but had to give up after a few hours, it soon became very repetitive and apart from a few tweaks here and there I had done it all before six months back. The more I began to expect the more I was disappointed.

Firstly it seems to take an age to load – it’s fine for a half hour bout but really annoying when it is the training sessions. These seem to take as long to load as they do to play.

Next the graphics – now don’t get me wrong, they do look nice – but at the end of the day it’s just a nice graphical representation of two men hitting each other. The highlights use the game engine and it often seemed like I never made contact with a punch and the ragdoll effects when a boxer falls to the canvas are downright poor. Also the much hyped “face ripple” effect looked more cartoon like and comical the more I saw it. None of the punches ever seem to have much weight or impact and the sound (even with 2 subs in a full 5.1 system) seemed lightweight.

More problems soon arose, they may seem like niggles but they mount up. Win a bout by making your opponent bleed too much just results in the match ending. No cut scenes, nothing, it just ends. Then in the store (where you can spend winnings on performance enhancing attire) you have to scroll for ages to find the item you want, only to back scroll to see if it’s better than the one you already have (and if it is you have to scroll all the way through again)…

The commentary is again a sore point. With all the power of the 360 I had hoped that days of nonsensical or repetitious comments would be behind us, but no they are still there. The commentator is forever referring to incidents that have not happened or making out your opponent has never looked better, just before you knock him down for the third time in the same round. And why when Links golf was able to use real names years ago in its commentary does EA still not manage to do it? It would be much better having your real name called out rather than countless repeats of a chosen character name.

I should add though that when you play as (or against) more recognisable boxers things are a little better. Play as Ali in a packed stadium and the game really hints at just how good things could be. The graphics are what you would expect from a next gen title and it does start to represent the pictures you will have seen.

The biggest difference in Round 3 is the inclusion of Live play. I was surprised to find that even on Launch day things worked well here. It was very easy to find an opponent and get a match underway and due to playing as better known boxers the whole thing looked much better than in the career mode. I suffered very little slow down or lag problems.

Like I said it was a case of the more I expected the more I was disappointed. At the end of the day it feels like an old game given a bit of a tart up. For anyone who has invested serious time in the earlier titles then remember graphics are not everything. For anyone else you could do far worse than a weekend’s rental. That’s probably all the time you will need to get the most from FNR3

Best Bits

- Live play works well
- The control system is good
- It can look very pretty …
Worst Bits

- But it mostly just looks average
- Repetitive career mode
- It’s a 12 month old game with a lick of 360 paint

by: dUnKle

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