"Fighting without the energy bar, with no concrete way to gauge my opponents health and stamina, has made this game one of the most intense experiences Iíve ever had on any console; itís amazing on multiple levels. The opponentís body becomes your gauge; youíre targeting him, picking out spots, centering, focusing your attacks, faking him, looking to make sure he hurts in one spot more than the others. You land a solid blow and it hits with all the subtlety of roaring thunder; the controller shakes, the screen shakes, blood spurts from his mouth, you can feel the ribs give way as your fist connects. "
Before you throw so much as a jab in Fight Night Round 3, you need to go to the options and turn off the HUD display. Trust me.
Fighting without the energy bar, with no concrete way to gauge my opponent's health and stamina, has made this game one of the most intense experiences Iíve ever had on any console; itís amazing on multiple levels. The opponentís body becomes your gauge; youíre targeting him, picking out spots, centering, focusing your attacks, faking him, looking to make sure he hurts in one spot more than the others. You land a solid blow and it hits with all the subtlety of roaring thunder; the controller shakes, the screen shakes, spit spews from his mouth, you can feel the ribs give way as your fist connects.
You want to know how much stamina heís working with? Just watch him. See how he moves, see how he blocks, see how he strikes, see how he weaves. Every blow to the face makes his eyes swell and swell, and with every inch they swell his performance goes down. He gets clumsy. He gets slower. Hits come easier and easier for you, because he canít block what he canít see. Heís crying blood, it covers his face, makes him a black and blue and red mess, beautiful pain brought out by stunning detail. His breathing becomes labored, heavy. Punches are weaker, slower, sloppier. You donít win fights by going in swinging; you win them by being methodical, by taking him apart bit by bit by bit by bit. Strategy, patience, strategy, patience.
And then, when youíve warn him down, when every step he takes away from you is wobbly, when the crowd screams for you to drop the hammer, when the music fades and the screen darkens, thatís when you make your final strike. You make your way in, brush aside his defenses, anticipate his dodging, hit where heís about to be instead of where he is, and you land a crushing strike across his face. Or his chest. Or his ribs. Time slows down, the sound of cracking bones echo, and he falls down for the count. Maybe heíll stay down and youíll win the match. Maybe heíll get up and youíll have the pleasure of knocking him down again. Win/win.
The presentation, the intensity, and the power of Fight Night Round 3 are part of what makes it such a force, but only a part. The controls are the next part; instead of relying on button presses and timed combos, attacks are based mainly on the right analog stick. To left jab, you give it a small push forward on the left; to right jab, you give it a small push forward on the right. A right cross is makes you circle it to the right, a left cross makes you circle it to the left. So forth and so on, and the only attacks that use button presses are the haymakers.
The benefit? Simple: You cannot win a match through base button mashing. Randomly swinging on the control stick will make your fighter randomly swing in the ring, and randomly swinging in the ring will get your ass laid out, guaranteed. The learning curve is somewhat steep; itíll take a match or two or maybe three before you get it down. But youíll reap rewards. Once you master the form, it comes as second nature. You see an opening and you go for it and you hit the mark. No thought, only instinct. No plan, only action. You and the opponent move across the ring. Counter. Block. Dodge. Swing. Miss. Anticipate. Hit. Cripple. Dominate.
When you fight, it actually looks like a fight.
Youíre given ample chance to appreciate the beauty. A season mode lets you create your own boxer, move up through the ranks, train to make him stronger and let him fight bigger and better opponents, customize his threads, fight modern day legends like Oscar De La Hoya, Roberto Duran, fight classics like Joe Frazier, Sugar Ray Robinson, the Greatest of All Time, Muhammad Ali, pick his battles, keep rising and rising and rising till you reach the top. Classic mode gives you the chance to relieve some of the greatest bouts to ever take place in the ring; tells you how they went down, gives you the history, introduces the rivalries, lets you know everything you need to know if you didnít already know it.
My one complaint with Fight Night Round 3? The people in the crowd looks like something I could have made on Microsoft Paint. And I suck at Microsoft Paint. I wonít even take a point off for that.
This game is fucking awesome. If youíre a fan of boxing, itís a must-have. If youíre not a fan of boxing, you will be after you play this. I wasnít, and now I am.
Staff review by Zack Little (June 05, 2006)
A bio for this contributor is currently unavailable, but check back soon to see if that changes. If you are the author of this review, you can update your bio from the Settings page.
If you enjoyed this Fight Night Round 3 review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!