Night Round 3 is the latest attempt by EA Sports' to deliver
a proper videogame representation of the sport of boxing. Admittedly,
an easy task. Boxing is about strategy as much as it is about beating
the crap out of someone. There are rules. There are tactics. It's not
as simple as immediately
pummelling your opponent into submission. Early boxing games differed
from other fighting games almost only by the fact that you
couldn't kick your opponent. Fatigue, cuts, swelling, training, equipment
and the like
factored into the equation.
Night Round 3 includes all of those factors and couples them with
graphics so realistic, you don't need a health bar or an on-screen meter
you that your fighter is tired or being beaten-up. You can clearly see
that as your fighter tires, his hands will begin to drop.
His punches will lose their snap. His breathing will become labored.
He will have to rely on landing a lucky punch to switch the momentum
if he's being beaten.
the action isn't about mashing buttons either. EA has created something
called Total Punch Control. Using the Xbox 360's right analog stick,
you'll "swing" your fighter's arms as you desire. The left analog stick
your boxer around the ring. Using the left trigger allows you to bob
and weave and the right allows you to block punches. The controls will
take about an hour
to get used to as you wean yourself off the natural tendency to want
to press one button for one type of punch and so on. The Total Punch
Control allows a much wider variety of punches to be thrown, including
uppercuts, haymakers, jabs, hooks, and straight punches, as well as allowing
you to control their speed.
you land an "impact" punch, the game will shift gears
If you land a "stun" punch, the game will switch to a first-person
view from your opponent's perspective. You can then watch yourself
attempt to finish him off from his point-of-view. It's mostly a pointless
because the stun punches are rare and once you adjust to the new viewpoint,
you're taken back out of it. A "flash" punch will weaken your opponent
and the game goes into a sort of slow-motion mode for a second to let
you know that landing another impact
punch will knock him to the canvas.
you do score a knockdown, Fight Night Round 3 displays its trademark
slow-motion replay of the punch's devastating effect on the opposing
fighter's face, and is usually accompanied by rippling flesh, a spray
of salivia, blood, and sweat and a sickening bone-cracking sound. If
you're knocked down, you'll see the same thing but it will be followed
by the two circles that must be moved to the center of the screen with
the analog sticks. If you can't get them into the center before the ref
counts to ten, you're knocked out.
rounds, you're responsible for being your own cutman. You've got to make
sure that any cuts or swelling are dealt with before they get out of
hand and cause the referee to stop the fight. This is done by moving
the right analog stick back and forth as an on-screen meter tells you
how much the swelling has gone down on each side of your fighter's face.
Night Round 3 features a plethora of actual fighters, including
Muhammad Ali, Evander Holyfield, Oscar De La Hoya, Bernard Hopkins, and
Duran. You can also create your own fighter and put him through a career
mode that allows you to train and groom him for the championship. After
taking on some generic fighters, he'll eventually work his way up to
face the real champions in his particular weight class. Although the
career mode is fun, it also gets a little monotonous after awhile because
it really boils down to selecting a fighter to fight, training through
the game's training minigames and then fighting. Over and over again.
noticeable negative aspect of the game is the abundance of in-game
advertising. For example, you'll have to win corporate sponsored matches
to gain acheivement
points rather than
by winning a fight by a knockout, being saved by the bell, or something
skill-related. All the work the game does to acheive realism
is vaporized by the fact that you can hire the spooky Burger King mascot
to be your trainer in career mode.
Live allows you to go online and face other boxers in ranked or unranked
matches. The online boxing felt a bit sluggish when compared to matches
that were played offline. Strategy seemed to go out the window too, as
most of my online opponents prefered to throw as many punches as possible
and lucking into a quick knockout rather than actually boxing. The
online fighting provides some variety and can add a lot of staying power
to the game as long as the online servers remain well-stocked with willing
Fight Night Round 3 is an outstanding representation of the
sport of boxing and, with a bit of tweaking to the stun punches, the
mode, and the removal of (at least some of) the advertising and
it will be just about perfect.