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Fight Night Round 3 (Xbox)

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Written by  :  D Michael (221)
Written on  :  Aug 01, 2007
Platform  :  Xbox
Rating  :  3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars

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Summary

Great multiplayer, but otherwise flawed

The Good

Fight Night Round 3 for the Xbox is one of the few truly remarkable boxing titles considering all platforms. Most boxing games either blow us away, or are complete trash and there is no in between. But with this latest installment of the series, we get both.

I write this review from the perspective of someone that has not experienced the earlier titles. It may be considered better or worse than its predecessors but I'm judging it on its own merits having not played the others.

Most people will want to jump right into the game and this means picking a boxer among many of the greats. Muhammed Ali, Joe Frazier, Gotti, Duran, there are plenty of big name boxers here. If you're not a boxing fan you probably won't recognize many of the names except for the heavyweight champs (yes Holyfield is here too). Each boxer is different and their stats all reflect their real life counterparts. What's more is that they each have their own signature move which is a haymaker punch of sorts unique to their character.

But being self-centered, I had more fun creating my own boxer from scratch. While the system is simple, it's very versatile and I was able to create my doppelganger on screen with the customization options. The match was so perfect to my real life look that it was uncanny, almost bizarre to watch myself fighting Holyfield on the television. Even my 2 year old daughter watched and pointed at the screen during a closeup replay and said, "Daddy!".

So as you might have imagined, the graphics are superb. The Xbox shows that it is still a strong platform in the graphics department. The boxers have almost a photo or television quality look to them. You know how when you see an action figure of a real life person and the face is off a bit or it just doesn't look like the person in question? Not the case here. But it's obvious that they had to tone down the rest of the rendering as the crowd is extremely low res but you're not looking at them during the action anyway.

The technical aspect of the gameplay is rock solid. It really pays to understand boxing concepts here with pacing oneself, counterattacking, clinching, combinations, and the like. If you're a button masher you will always lose to a technical, precision player. Unlike many fighting games, excessive ineffectual punching will tire you out, slow you down, and prevent you from defending yourself. Furthermore, taking on injury is a snowball effect. A fight can be stopped if you're cut too bad, or you'll take extra damage from small punches if you're wounded. Thankfully, your trainer can heal some injuries in between rounds.

The multiplayer side of the equation is the shining experience in this game. Even if you're not a big fan of boxing, this game is just plain fun due to how realistic it is. But I can't imagine what it would be like to have a big group of hardcore boxing fans sitting around taking each other on, screaming and yelling the entire time. And while the better boxer will tend to win most of the time, there are special haymaker moves that are executed with a combination from the analog controls that can land and change the course of the fight in one punch. This means that even a disadvantaged player has some chance of winning with a lucky punch.

Another positive aspect of this game is the punching. The right analog stick in the default configuration is used to swing jabs, crosses, hooks, uppercuts, and perform combinations or special moves. Rather than just mashing a button to perform the punch, you swing the stick in a similar motion that would be executed by the punch being executed. Because of this, the throwing takes on a more natural feel.

The Bad

Unfortunately there are some very serious drawbacks to this game.

For one, there are way too many loading screens. I can usually overlook this when playing console games (I'm primarily a PC gamer) but I just couldn't ignore the fact that the majority of the time spent sitting in front of the TV with this game involves looking at a loading screen. In the single player mode, from the end of one fight to the beginning of the next, I counted 12 loading screens. Yes, 12. You cannot even change into a menu sub-directory without a long load time. Awful design, and there is no excuse for it other than sub-par programming. The Xbox is perfectly capable of running a single main menu application.

POTENTIAL SPOILER

The single player game starts off ok, but soon you find that the AI is ruinous. That left hook to the body lands almost every time, and once you learn this and practice the timing, well, the game is over. I fought 30 fights straight throwing only one punch. The first (and last) single player career, which by the way is the first time I ever played the game and without reading the manual, left my record at 35-3-0 with 35 KOs. For someone that has never played the game before, that's too good of a record.

END POTENTIAL SPOILER

The fight store is a little unrealistic. For a game dedicated to realism they really shoot themselves in the foot charging you $300,000 for a mouth guard.

For whatever reason, the designers fail to include enough big boxing names which results in some boxers being in 2 different weight classes to fill the gaps. Perhaps Lennox Lewis wouldn't sign on so they had to include Holyfield in light heavy and heavyweight classes. I don't know, but there aren't enough names to fill all of the spots and provide for enough variety.

The training minigames are pathetic. After signing a contract to take on a fighter, you are given the chance to select a form of training to increase your stats before the next fight. Choose weightlifting and you build strength and stamina, the combo dummy will build speed and agility, etc. When you choose a training method, you are sent to a very simple minigame, and the better you do the better your stat increase. The problem is that the games are mundane the third or fourth time around, and never change throughout your career, resulting in a cumbersome experience that stands in the way of you, and fun.



The Bottom Line

If you have friends that will play hours on end with you, this is an exciting and fun experience that brings life to the Xbox. But as a single player experience, it falls short thereby effectively eliminated half of the content.