Fight Night Round 3 - PS3 - Preview
The barrage of jabs is taking their toll – the vision is restricted and there is the occasionally blurring of the lights. The announcer knows you are in trouble and talks about the pounding you are taking, but being slightly bull-headed means continuing to wade in. Covering up is rare, ducking and weaving is becoming less efficient. You see the punch coming before it is landed, The next thing you know, you see the lights, and three referees counting you out.
It is another battle to clear the cobwebs and get back up.
Get in the Ring is one of the defining features of Fight Night Round 3 for the PlayStation 3 entertainment system. It is a first-person view of the fight, complete with two disembodied arms in front of you, obeying the commands of the controller. The PS3 has a couple of exclusives, including ESPN integration, which provides streaming news, split-screen head-to-head gaming and online play. Yes, the game has the same other options of its next-gen rival, and props have to be given to EA Sports for the different feel this game has, however, don’t expect the SIXAXIS controller to be part of the control scheme. Still, with the Get in the Ring feature, little things like motion-sensitive controls seem not as big a deal.
And just like the 360 version, also gone are the health and energy meters. Instead you have to watch your fighter and listen to his breathing, and judge the way he throws punches. These will clue you in to the fact that no matter how wide open the target is, if the punch lands there may not be much steam on it. Block, back away, get some breathing space and recover some stamina.
This is very much a game that asks gamers to watch for openings, as well as keep an eye on their own fighter. There are several game modes available in the title as well as three new punches known collectively as Impact Punches (the Haymaker, the Flash KO punch, and the Stun Punch – more on these in a moment). The game modes include Get in the Ring, Play Now, ESPN Classic (historic fights in which the gamer can take on the role of one of the fighters, such Ali versus Frazier, Robinson vs. Lamotta, Leonard vs. Duran to name but a few), Career, Game Mode and Create A Champ.
There is a routine to this game’s career mode that is very easy to step into. You pick or create a fighter, begin in the amateur ranks, sign a fight contract, hire a trainer, train up attributes, like power, agility, stamina, the ability to take punches on various parts of the body, and then enter the ring and go toe-to-toe against a smart AI foe. Different fighting styles are represented. You earn money in the bouts, can hire trainers to improve stats, or afford better gear that provides boosts to stats as well.
Fighters move and punch like their real-life counterparts, and you can create styles for your fighter and even establish rivalries.
The control scheme works well, but the lack of motion-controlled movements seems like a missed opportunity to distance the console from other next-gen machines. The right thumbstick is the one used to manipulate the punches. Pulling the stick to the right or left and rotating it will load up a punch and deliver it. The left thumbstick controls ring movement, and you can combine them with the left and right trigger to move, avoid or block punches, load up and deliver a devastating blow with your weight behind it. Hit and move is fundamental and necessary. Stand in the middle of the ring and you are asking for punishment.
The musical score features hip-hop and some rap, but it blends into the game very well. The announcers are very good with the only audio drawback being the crunching bones heard regularly with the impact punches.
The graphics are advertised as being cinematic and this is spot on. Of course, there are pieces of fly-away hair on some of the fighters – hair that clumps and sticks up. But overall, this is impressive. Load times are fast.
There are a few stumbles in the preview code, like some graphical clipping and random spurts where the collision paths seems to be absent (as in, “how in the world did that punch miss??”), but generally speaking this is still a solid game.
The PS3 online component is far more robust than the 360, and there is a bit of a graphical upgrade, utilizing the high-def functionality of the system much better than the 360. The Get in the Ring feature doesn’t just put you in the boxer’s shoes, you see the fight through his eyes, and the ring movement is terrific, allowing gamers to really feel like they are part of the fight. As you take damage, the edges of the screen begin to blur out and the more damage you take, the worse your vision becomes and the slower your reaction time. You can’t quite feel the punches, thankfully, but the game does an excellent job or relaying the damage and effects of those punches. Try to go toe-to-toe, and you may end up trying to put the knockdown cursors together to rise off the canvas. In many regards, the game becomes much more tactical.
Fight Night Round 3 for the PS3 is the best iteration of the top fight game on a next-gen console system. What EA was able to accomplish in the months between the 360 release and the PS3 release has been nothing short of amazing.