1 Reviews

Fight Night Round 3

EA's third instalment in the series throws some very decent punches

They've got the basics right with this - you get lots of long, lingering close-ups of the ring girls between rounds.

So many boxing games hide them away as if they're something to be ashamed of! But here, the sexy number-whores are celebrated. Enjoyed, zoomed in on and, most crucially of all, made to wear small bikinis and hurt-me-daddy shoes. One of them's blonde and they've all been designed with flat-yetmuscular stomachs. They get 10/10, no question.

And between these looking-at-girl bits are some brief moments of boxing. In terms of stuff to do apart from ogle pretend girls, all bases are covered in Fight Night Round 3. You can leap into a quick game, re-enact a famous bout from history, or head off into a Career. The Career game is exactly what you'd expect. You start on the bottom rung with a no-name creation of your own, or pick a legendary fighter and recreate their rise to fame. Such luminaries as Holyfield, Ali, Roy Jones and our own Ricky Hatton are here to chose from.

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Then it's boxing-game-as-usual with fight contracts to sign, training interludes and a shop to spend your winnings in. Every boxing game's always the same! The makers have made this one a little more complex, with different trainers to hire depending on how much cash you've got, but the usual boxing format of training, fighting, training and fighting is still the core of Round 3's Career game, just like it was in Fight Night Round 2. There's even the same 'Auto Train' feature that gets your fighter up to an average standard, which also serves to illustrate how pointless it is having to go through all this training nonsense every time.

SITTING ON DEFENCE
Compared to Fight Night Round 2, the main differences are in two areas - a more serious, realistic look and a slight shift in emphasis toward defensive play. Boxing games have always been a bit dumb, with the winner often being the player who hammers the punch button fastest. Not so in Round 3. This year you have a much better blocking system, with R1 raising your guard and the right stick choosing between head and body blocking.

You can hold the left shoulder button to sway out of the way, and the simple manner in which it's possible to block makes defensive boxing a major option. You're also given the new choice of a 'clinch', with a press of triangle making your man grab his opponent. This is another great change, actually giving you a decent defence option when you're on the ropes and getting yesterday's partially digested lunch kicked out of you.

Problem is, directing your punches isn't quite as easy and instinctive as defending. You use the right analogue stick to direct your shots, which is never the best idea. Semi-circles and jabs of the stick direct your shots, and it's easy to misfire. As with Round 2, though, the X button is the layman's saviour. It's your Signature move, an all-flattening power punch that drills through defences and removes a huge chunk of energy bar.

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Happily, this "super" attack is much less important than it was in Fight Night Round 2. It's slower, has a shorter range, and isn't something you can hammer away on to win matches any more. It's balanced better, which makes the whole game fairer and again adds to the strategy. You can switch stance this year too, with a shoulder button flipping between southpaw and orthodox stances, giving you yet more ways to get inside an opponent's defence with correctly aimed blows.

DIRTY DANCING
Also new is a dirty play button that produces elbows and headbutts. If you fight dirty you might get a cut on your opponent, but there's a big risk the ref will catch you and you'll get the DQ and lose by default. Fight like a gentleman. Hair pulling is for girls.

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