PC ¦ PlayStation 3 ¦ Xbox 360 ¦ Wii ¦ DS ¦ PSP ¦ Others ¦ DGC Grade Table

Fight Night Round 3 PlayStation 2

Published by EA Sports
Developed by EA Sports
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £39.99

Fight Night Round 3, an introduction.

Last year we reviewed Fight Night Round 2 and all things considered we were impressed with the game. The game had too many knockdowns, wasn't that deaf gamer friendly and lacked an online mode which was irritating considering the US version of the game did indeed have an online mode. Those complaints aside though Fight Night Round 2 was a boxing game that was accessible and enjoyable. It looked great and featured a refined Total Punch Control system that really made the fights enjoyable and moved away from the button bashing nature of most boxing games. Let's take a look at the latest title in series, Fight Night Round 3, to see if any of those aforementioned problems have been sorted out.

What's the game about?

Fight Night Round 3 allows you to take control of some of the greatest boxers in the sport's history and also to create your own boxer and take them through a whole career. The game offers an ESPN Classic mode where you can take part in some of the great rivalry fights such as Ali versus Frazier and Leonard versus Hagler. There's a Hard Hits mode where there are no rounds so that you can't have a break to heal up etc. Most will spend their time in the Career mode though, where you create your own boxer, in any weight category you choose, and play though a whole career.

What's good about the game?

One of the biggest complaints we had with last year's Fight Night Round 2 was that there were too many knockdowns. Thankfully this has been sorted out and the rate of knockdowns is much more realistic in Fight Night Round 3. Unlike the Xbox 360 version, the PlayStation 2 version comes with health and stamina gauges so the boxer's condition is more obvious to deaf gamers and you don't need to be able to listen for panting breath to know that your opponent (or indeed your own boxer) needs to take it easy. Once again the total punch control system works extremely well but should you not like it for some reason, you can opt to switch to a control configuration that allows punches to be performed by pushing the square, circle, triangle and X buttons. Whichever control system you prefer you'll find the controls responsive and intuitive, although you don't have as good a control over your punching when you're not using the total punch control system.

What's not so good about the game?

There have been quite a few multi-format sports games where the PlayStation 2 version has missed out on having an online multiplayer component. Sadly Fight Night Round 3 also falls into this category and doesn't offer any online play at all (at least it's not in the European version but from what we can make out there is online play in the US version). As we'll find out in a moment the game could have been a lot better for deaf gamers. Whilst I was enjoying playing in the Career mode, there are some problems. The Career mode basically follows a pattern of signing a contract to compete in a fight, doing a training mini-game (or sparring) and then taking part in a fight. Even though you'll progress through the amateur ranks to the professional and so forth you're still following this pattern and it gets a bit repetitive. You can chose to automatically do the training but you'll only get half of the upgrade points you would get from doing it well yourself. As for the fights they are great, once you've passed through the amateur ranks. The amateur fights are just too easy and quite a few of them end up being stopped with your opponent unable to defend himself. Once you're a professional though this problem pretty much disappears. The game could have also done with a ranking system in the Career mode to give you an idea of how good your boxer is.

How does it look?

Having been amazed by graphics on offer in the Xbox 360 version we thought we would find the graphics in the PlayStation 2 version pretty unremarkable. We were surprised then to find that the game looks pretty impressive given the technological limitations of the PlayStation 2. In fact this has to be one of the best looking sports games on the console. The boxers all look great and whilst damage modelling isn't as good as on the Xbox 360 version, it's more than acceptable. Load times are pretty good and the frame rate is also pretty impressive too.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

There are no subtitles in Fight Night Round 3. In a lot of sports games that we see, this isn't a big problem and it's doesn't really pose a problem in FNR 3 but it is unfortunate. Your trainer will talk to you whilst you're doing your training in the mini-games and between rounds in a fight. During the breaks in a fight, your trainer will comment on how you've performed and he gives pretty good advice on what you'll need to do in the next round, which is important if you're not doing too well. None of this is accessible for deaf gamers though. Of course the lack of subtitles won't prevent you from enjoying the game but it's a shame that the experience has been tarnished to a certain degree.

Final thoughts.

If you want a boxing game on the PlayStation 2 you only have a choice of two games. You can opt for Victorious Boxers 2 and enjoy the story of Ippo Makunouchi and his rise to fame or, if you want real boxers you can opt for Fight Night Round 3. Both are great games in their own right but the ability to create your own boxer and enjoy a full career with them, as well as fight with some of the all time greats in the ESPN Classic mode, will probably have most preferring Fight Night Round 3. It's a shame the game isn't subtitled though and it's also a disappointment that no online mode has been included. Still with the very enjoyable total punch control system and a great single-player experience, it's easy to recommend Fight Night Round 3 to boxing fans.

Overall Game Rating: 8.5/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

(Click the letter or here for details)

Fight Night Round 3 is another great game and it does manage to improve on Fight Night Round 2 which is no small achievement. Online play is still missing though and it could have been better for deaf gamers.