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Fight Night Round 3 Xbox 360

Published by EA Sports
Developed by EA Sports
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £49.99

Fight Night Round 3, an introduction.

Most would admit that the EA Sports titles that arrived for the launch of the Xbox 360 were below the standard we've come to expect. Most launch titles for any console usually don't live up to expectations (there are exceptions to this of course) and the Madden and FIFA games were just two that could have been a lot better. A couple of months ago the demo for Fight Night Round 3 was made available on the Xbox Live Marketplace and we couldn't resist giving it a go. To say we were impressed is putting it mildly and we were keen to get our hands on the final version. Well now it's here and after spending many hours with the game we can safely say that it's the first EA Sports game on the Xbox 360 that's a true must own title.

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. Unlike the PlayStation 2 version, the Xbox 360 version comes with online play and allows for ranked and unranked fights. 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 PlayStation 2 version which has health and stamina gauges the Xbox 360 version has no gauges at all. Instead you'll be able to see by looking at your boxer (and opponent) to see what condition they are in. The decision to remove the gauges may seem a strange one but the graphical quality of the boxers really does allow you to see what state they are in, so gauges are not necessary. 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 X, Y, A and B 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. The Xbox Live mode works like a charm and should add longevity to the game.

What's not so good about the game?

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 (you are ranked online) to give you an idea of how good your boxer is.

How does it look?

The big reason for choosing the Xbox 360 version is the graphics and there's just no getting away from how good the game looks. The boxer models are superb and during fights you'll be amazed at how life-like the fights look. You'll see the swellings and cuts appear in a realistic fashion and the sweat spray from the gloves and successful punches that are made. On the punches that cause knockdowns, you'll see the streams of bloodied saliva jet out from the boxers mouth and it's one heck of an improvement from the red blobs in the PlayStation 2 version. Not all the characters have the same level of graphical excellence as the boxers though (although the trainers do). The audience for instance have been rendered in less detail. On the whole though this is a visual feast for boxing game fans and it's easily the most visually impressive sports game we've seen to date.

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. The Xbox 360 is not only more advanced than the other versions in terms of its graphics. The sound is also more advanced and it's obvious to hearing gamers when the boxers are running short of breath. To some degree you can tell by a boxer's stance when they are getting tired but it's not quite as effective. Of course the lack of subtitles and captions 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.

Even though the Xbox 360 is in its infancy there have been quite a few EA Sports games to have arrived on the console. Fight Night Round 3 is definitely the best EA Sports game to arrive on the console so far as it not only plays really well but looks impressive too. 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 be a deal clincher for most but when you factor in the fights you can enjoy over Xbox Live you have a boxing game that's definitely worth the asking price. It's a shame the game isn't subtitled though. 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)

The graphical horsepower of the Xbox 360 allows Fight Night Round 3 to easily be the best looking boxing game so far. The game itself is pretty impressive too although it could have been a whole lot better for deaf gamers.