Nine months after the title was first launched on the Xbox 360, EA has re-released Fight Night Round 3 on the PlayStation 3. I’m sad to report that it’s almost a near-identical port of the title, even this far after its initial release. Seeing as there are only a few enhancements to the title over the previous version, I’ve deemed it acceptable to reuse large portions of my previous impressions — why reinvent the wheel? I’ll outline all the additions and updated comments prior to the inclusion of all the original review text, but there will be some tweaks throughout seeing as I’m revisiting the title almost a year later.
From a visual and audio standpoint, this game is essentially identical to the version that debuted on the Xbox 360, although I did seem to think the graphics were a little less spectacular this time around, as I noticed more jagged edges. Fabric didn’t seem to flow as realistically either in this iteration, and even gaping holes were noticed when a boxer was knocked onto the canvas; rather than seeing his leg where it should be, the canvas was shown instead. This really detracted from the title in terms of overall appeal, and given the additional polish time they the developers had, it’s inexcusable. The audio is exactly the same in this version, with commentary sometimes becoming confused, and the game is still limited to the same 12 tracks that get tiresome before breaking out of the amateur ranks in career mode.
The biggest change is the addition of a new mode called Get in the Ring. This is a single fight played from a first-person viewpoint, and while it’s cool initially, the wow factor wears thin. As your play this mode, chances are high you’ll be getting clocked in the head or body with devastating blows — get a jab in the left eye, and you’ll see a bright flash followed by increased darkening of your vision as your eye swells shut. Let yourself get cut and even more swollen, and your vision becomes blurred and extremely narrow. It’s actually quite immersive and would have been nice — had this camera mode been available in career mode. Alas, it’s not.
Once again disappointment set in with the Sixaxis controller’s motion-sensing capabilities. The only thing it was used for this time around was initiating an illegal blow when you jam the controller forward. Had they used a couple of the axes to control either the left or right arm of your boxer, then we’d have something worth talking about.
So, to summarize the PS3-specific aspects and give you a review before slogging through the full/old review, Fight Night Round 3 on PS3 is not a bad game. However, the fact that nearly a year after its initial release we are provided with a complete rehash is insulting, especially to gamers who enjoy the series and have played it to death on the Xbox 360. There really are no enhancements to this version that should entice previous owners to by the PS3 SKU, and the lack of rumble is especially disappointing with this title. For people who skipped over the game before, definitely pick this game up. It looks good, sounds great and is a blast to play. But previous owners should feel confident in skipping this version and waiting for inevitable Round 4.
(The following are tweaked copies of the previous Fight Night Round 3 review for the Xbox 360. Everything in it applies to this version as well. )
If you played either of the two previous Fight Night games, chances are high that you are somewhat familiar with the much touted Total Punch Control. If you are not familiar with it, what TPC is 100% user controlled punching, including the power and type of punch all done with the analog stick. For example, if you want to throw a right hook, the thumb stick is moved from the center position to the right, then swept up towards the top of the controller. Do this slowly and you’ll punch like a slug, quickly and your punches will pack some serious heat and do a boatload of damage.
The three basic types of punch are jabs, hooks and uppercuts, but this time around EA has added three new types of punches to the TPC scheme to add yet another layer of depth to the game. Stun Punches, Haymakers and Flash KO punches are added and each is a slight variation of the manual haymaker that you throw. Simply wind your punch up with a little extra flourish and follow through to varying degrees for the different punches. While the punches are slower and therefore easier to dodge, when they do hit you really take a big dent out of your opponent’s health. One punch type will actually pop you into a first person mini-game where you either are the recipient of or the guy dishing out additional punishment.
Career mode is where the bulk of players will start out their Fight Night gaming. You’re immediately given a boatload of options for creating a new boxer from scratch thanks to the in depth character creation scheme. As you change basic options such as head shape you are presented with a slider of sorts, actually a box, where you use the analog stick to tweak the look of your character. With this you can add a hooked nose, large ears, and a bulging cranium. Along with tweaking the visuals, you select the various boxing options that make your player unique. From the get go however, options are limited as far as boxing styles and blocking methods, but as you play through the game and unlock new styles, you can tweak your character to try out the new forms.
Once your lowly character is created you choose contracts to fight and move your way up a challenge ladder, ultimately building to appearances on Friday Night Fights and to special invitational tournaments that are heavily sponsored by real world firms such as Dodge and Burger King. In fact, when you complete the Burger King Invitational fight, you unlock the right to use THE Burger King as a trainer/promoter and he will escort you to the ring. Between selecting fights you have the option of training in one of three mini-games which raise your stats, or just to spar and try out some new moves. The option exists to auto-train but that will effectively half the bonus you’ll earn, and believe me as you progress through career mode, the manual training you did will pay off in droves.
During the hype period leading up to this title, EA pumped up the fact about fights during pre-match weigh-ins and in-game rivalries. Sadly, these two much anticipated tweaks to the game fell a little flat, as the weigh in scraps turned out to be a sucker punch from your rival which turned into a blocking mini-game, and the rivalries basically turned one boxer into a dirty fighter who eggs you on as you make your way up the ladder. Nothing to groundbreaking or exciting is it? Even the revamped career mode is nothing more than a series of fights which although looking different on the selection screen, isn’t too far removed from what I saw when I played the original Fight Night.
Classic mode is somewhat limited in what it can offer, but what it does allow you to do is relive some classic bouts from the past. A nice touch here is that if the bout you choose to fight actually happened before color TV became the norm, the fight will be played in very crisp black and white graphics. Sadly though, even though the developers tried to keep to the time period, we still see an abundance of advertisements for things that normally weren’t advertised during that era, such as Dodge and Burger King. Fighting in classic mode does have its advantages, as you beat the professionals you unlock items for purchase in the Fight Store in career mode allowing you to move quickly like Ali. A nice touch to Classic mode is that when you retire your character from career mode, he and his rival become an instant classic.
Online the game both hits and misses. The misses come in the form of some lag that occurs, which may or may not be due to the fact that you’re connecting to EAs servers, and also due to the inability to mask out competitors based on controller settings. For players who’ve honed their skills offline using the analog sticks, heading into an online match against a player who unleashes flurries using the face buttons puts them at a huge disadvantage. In order to keep up with the speed that buttons provide over the analog stick, the player must then learn and adapt to use the face buttons as well. I guess the loading screen that states that the game is not for button mashers neglected to consider the online portion. Also, a word to the wise; be sure to have a created boxer using the Create Champ mode for use in online play and max out his stats. If you don’t do this, don’t be surprised to be put into a match where your opponent has a huge advantage over you using one of the players from classic mode.
Overall control in the game depends on a few factors, the most important being the skill of you as the player and how you intend to play the game. If you opt to not use TPC, then you will be limited in determining the power of a punch vs. the player who can fake a punch with the right then clobber the opponent with a jaw shattering left. Some will complain of sluggish controls, and while it does seem that things move a little slowly as you become more adept at blocking, parrying and throwing combinations the speed of the game increases dramatically, as it does as the stats of your created boxer increase.
There is no doubt about it, these graphics are outstanding. Each professional boxer is accurately rendered from the chest hair on Roy Jones Jr, to the blemishes on Joe Frazier’s face. For those who viewed the trailer over a year ago and doubted that the graphics were in fact taken from actual in game footage, you have nothing to fear. Are they any better than what came out on the 360? No, they are not â€” infact I almost felt as if they were a little more jagged around the edges. For the doubters, I’m running HDMI and the game is running in 720p.
Quite honestly there isn’t much one can say about how sharp the graphics look because the visuals speak so loudly for themselves. In fact, EA is so positive that the next generation graphics really are that good by default the game is setup to play without a HUD, forcing you to play the game watching the onscreen characters for cues into the health of your boxer and opponent. Chests heave when players tire, eyes swell and blood flows freely from open cuts and noses; all in real time while the game moves on around you.
However, not all is perfect in Fight Night Round 3, as I did see some flaws that removed me from the amazing sense of realism that the almost too real visuals brought. First of all the crowd still had a little too much synchronization going for it. Sure they were actually three dimensional and not just 2D sheets that wave in the wind, but to see large groupings of people clapping or shadow boxing in perfect time really was a disappointment. I get that having a programmer program something to allow the crowd be a little more independent would remove one programmer from making the game that much better, but when we’re reaching the levels of realism that we see here, it’s the little things that are going to detract. Also during the close up healing sequences between rounds the crowd in the background was extremely pixilated â€” I was actually reminded of Pro Wrestling from back on the NES with the way the characters looked when they were laid out flat during a pin. Moving the processing from the background to concentrate on excellent foreground graphics is a good thing to do, but for the love of gamers at least put a little bit of effort into the background; it’s not like you don’t have multiple Cell processors to work with here.
I still noticed a decent amount of clipping occur this far after the game debuted last winter, most notably during the replay scenes. I for one had hoped that issues like this would soon be a thing of the past with developers becoming that much more adept at their jobs, but sadly it’s still around in FNR3. Not only limited to the replay mode, I did notice some missed collision detection during regular fights as well so it’s not as if I could pretend it didn’t happen by skipping replays.
When you can actually feel the crushing blows you know the audio is done (mostly) right. During replays especially, you will know that a huge hit landed on its intended target as your subwoofer will get a nice workout. Even the subtleties of the audio are present; you’ll hear the labored breathing of a tired boxer, the slice of a quick jab through the air and crowds who actually react to the fight as it progresses. When a few nice punches are landed, or a nice dodge is performed be prepared to hear the crowd start to cheer a little louder and even start to chant to get your momentum going even more in your favor.
Voice acting is actually done very well with the managers having a fair performance during between round mini-games and training segments. It’s not the most dynamic script but the lines are all well delivered and can pack that sense of urgency that might be required to make it through the next round. For the most part the commentary is pretty well voiced as well, with some slight hiccups along the way though. As the action really heats up, the commentator seems to either lag slightly behind the action or mix up what he’s trying to say. So there would be times when my character (nicknamed The Cooler) is pummeling “Nails” but the voice work will sometimes slip up and call it as if I was the one who was taking the beat down of his life.
Another sore spot for me is the very limited selection of music for Fight Night. With only twelve different tracks available, very quickly into career mode you’ll get tired of hearing the same song over and over during each load screen or mini-game. Thankfully, custom soundtracks are available for every game but I wish that I didn’t need to take advantage of it. Also it seems just wrong to see Ali come out to the ring bobbing and weaving to the sounds of Obie Trice.
- Overall: 7.5
- The shiny graphics and Get In The Ring mode are nice, but the disappointing port of a year-old game and poor use of Sixaxis controller are just plain sad.
— Jeff Paramchuk