Two men stand in a ring, with gloves on to protect their hands. Only one thing is on their mind, as millions of sports fans watch from all over the world – To knock their opponent spark out! How about that for a sport eh? Step aside Rugby, this is the REAL mans game.
When you’re creating a game that is based on boxing, you have to take a lot of things into consideration: Realism, power and above all, Fun factor. The game has to look real. There’s nothing worse than throwing a punch at somebody who just looks like a pixelated cartoon character. There has to be power – when you throw a punch, you want your opponent to wince as the strength of the blow, and finally Fun Factor – it it’s not fun, we won’t be playing it for too long.
That last paragraph was not “Russell’s quick step into creating a Boxing game”, oh no! It was more me outlining exactly what EA have done with Fight Night Round 3.
Let’s start from the top – the realism. We all know how powerful the Xbox 360 is. It just feels like nobody has managed to really “push” the 360’s limits just yet. Well that is until now! Fight Night Round 3 is unbelievably realistic. When you first step into the ring, you watch the intro movie as your boxing enters, and then your opponent follows – then you wait for a bit more as you stare at the two boxers facing each other – oh crap wait this is in-game! The graphics are so realistic, you’ll be sitting and waiting for the cut-scene to end, when in reality, the in-game graphics are exactly the same! Once you smash your opponent to the floor, a real close-up slow motion replay will show you your devastating blow to the face in all it’s glory, rippling your opponents cheek skin, and spitting blood out of their mouth – you’ll be laughing every time you see it.
Although you have the option of a HUD, showing your boxers health and stamina, it’s actually a lot more fun to disable the HUD and work on instinct. If you fire a flurry of punches at your opponent, and then suddenly he counters the blow and does a mega powerful haymaker straight into your chin, you will immediately realise it’s time to pull away and compose yourself. Your characters face starts to look tired, and if the blow was unexpected, he’ll look surprised. Your punches will start to slow and you will instantly be able to see that you are not doing any damage – because the camera won’t ‘shake’ when you hit your opponent.
Once you’ve picked up your jaw from the floor, it’s time to get down to some serious boxing using the career mode. You are given two options in career mode. You can either create your own boxer, or start with a pre-made (and in-real-life well known) boxer. Both of them start you right at the bottom of the boxing ladder, with you boxing at an amateur level, with the pansy head-gear and so-on. The Create a boxer option is just as in-depth as you would expect from EA. You can customise everything about your boxer, from his head shape to his cheek bone size. If you’ve ever played Tiger Woods 06 on the 360 or PC, you will know just how in depth the create-a-character features are.
Once you’ve created your boxer, you have the option of spending “points” on certain characteristics, such as power (how powerful your punch is) and chin (how many punches you chin will take before you drop). They all work on a percentage level, and the majority of them start on about 20% if you even them out. As you start signing fight contracts, you will get one training session before the fight. This training session allows you to home-in on some of the skills you may be lacking, or want to improve. The training sessions are little mini-games of about a minute each, ranging from weight lifting to dummy combo punching. Each training session improves different aspects of your character. You even get the chance to hire better trainers who specialise in either speed or power, allowing you to improve those skills even more than usual. The better trainers cost more, however, and so they won’t be readily available until later on in the game when you’re earning the big bucks!
You also get the chance to purchase different boxing accessories, such as better gloves or nicer shorts – most of which will improve aspects such as you power by up to 20%, etc.
The career, in reality, isn’t actually that long. You will soon find yourself smashing your way up the ladder, turning professional, and then becoming world champ. Of course, once you are there, you still have to defend that belt, so there is a lot of playability there.
If the career mode isn’t for you, or you’ve grown tired of playing it, you can always play the ESPN Classics option. This will give you a large selection of “classic” fights from years gone by, including boxers such as Muhammad Ali and Roy Jones Jr.
Controls on Fight Night are by far the most ingenious of control systems you will find on the 360. As with the previous Fight Night, you have the option of using either the buttons, the right analog stick. I personally can’t get to grips with the analog punching system, but many people tell me that it’s the only way forward, as you have complete control over the type of punch and the amount of power you want to use. Blocking is just as easy. By simply pressing the right trigger, and the using the right analog, you can block high and low, as well as try and counter the opponents punch by blocking in the direction that the punch is coming. By countering, you leave your opponent wide open for a few hefty uppercuts.
Once you’ve obliterated the computer AI, you can jump onto Xbox Live and bash a few foreigners. As with all EA titles, the EA servers are the only way for you to play online, and sometimes they can be a little worse-for-wear. If you do manage to face a boxer that is in the same country, or with a good connection, you get the same feel as you would in single-player fights, but you get the added satisfaction of knowing the guy you knocked over is another human player.
All-in-all, Fight Night Round 3 is by far the best Xbox 360 game I’ve personally played so far. The stunning realism in both the graphics, and the animation and punching system, along with hugely gripping gameplay and heaps of TV shouting fun with your mates, this game is a must buy for anyone who is a fan of Boxing, and is also a must-buy for anyone who wants a good laugh with his mates…or his cat if he has no mates.