Fight Night Round 3 - PSP - Review
The song intones that “with a left and a right” your opponent goes “night, night.” Yep, that about sums it up … sort of. There is a lot more to Fight Night Round 3 on the PSP, a release from EA Sports.
Up front, for those who read the preview of this title, you will note many similarities. The reason? The same disk was authorized by EA for the review of the game, as well as the preview. The game didn’t change, nor did the way it was played.
Fight Night Round 3 is very much a reflexive exercise, although with some suspect AI at the easier difficulty levels, you can just go into a crouch, wait for your foe to wade in and then throw a few stinging haymakers or uppercuts to the solar plexus. That not only knocks the stuffing out of their stamina, but provides some major damage to their health meter. They will back off, and if you wait, they will walk back in.
Good thing that in the multiplayer, your human counterparts are not that silly. They also have a tendency to “find” you with solid blows when you are in that crouched stance. Players have two bars to pay attention to – the health and energy bar. Deplete the first and you will drop quickly, and may not recover. Deplete the latter and you just have to get some spacing from your foe to regenerate it – although the area that can regenerate will downsize the longer the fight goes on.
There are several modes of play, including the Play Now (instant fights), Rival Challenges (in which you get to repeat history or even change it in classic rivalry fights, beginning with Ali versus Frazier), and a two-mode tab called Game Modes (broken down into Career and Hard Hits – the latter is a fight based on knockdowns, not time). Multiplayer features both Ad hoc and Infrastructure, and there is even a function that allows you to go into EA Pocket Trax to shuffle the song list or remove some of the 12 mostly-hip-hop tunes that are featured.
As for the music, at first it was a minor distraction, but the more the tunes played, the more they ingrained themselves into the subconscious. Not certain if this was a good thing or not. Most of the lyrical content has to do with ownership, presumably in the fight ring, but are reasonably catchy. Which is a good thing, because you can adopt one as your theme for the pre-fight introductions.
Ok, those introductions are all CGI and after seeing one for three-four times, you can just as easily bypass them and get right to the meat and potatoes of this title, the fights themselves.
You can create your own fighter, work through the rankings beginning at the amateur level and move up to vie for a world title and the big paydays. The opponent you defeat for the amateur title will vow his revenge and follow you into the pros, jumping weight classes if you do. About the only good thing that comes of the rival fight is that you get a better split of the purse. When you are fighting ranked opponents, if you carry the lower ranking, you will get a lesser percentage of the purse. And, of course, you have to pay the promoters, the trainer and the cut man from your percentage. Your earnings, though, are used to upgrade your equipment, or buy signature moves. The equipment can carry buffs to your attributes, which you can also increase through pre-fight training.
The Create Champ options are varied and quite good, allowing players to customize the appearance of their fighter. You can manipulate various aspects of the head, and pick the weight class and body appearance.
Essentially the way the career mode works is you are given a selection of potential fights to pick from, each with a payday and each allows you to scout would-be foes. Once you sign the contract for the fight, you go to training. There are three styles of training, which are linked to intensity – normal yields the lowest results, confident will give better results but there is a chance of injury and aggressive carries the best chance for top results, but the injury risk goes way up. You can focus training in three areas, as well – balanced, power and speed.
Once training is complete you climb into the ring. There are several ways to set up the controls. The default will have the hot keys controlling punch locations with the analog stick in charge of the fighter movement. The D-pad will allow for the special punch (like a wind-up haymaker), taunt, clinch or illegal blow. The left shoulder trigger is for leaning and body shots and the right controls blocking.
Meet Bernard - Bernard is a glutton for punishment, and will likely get his fill this fight.
The default camera angle is ringside, keeping the fighters in profile.
For a handheld device the action is very solid and the venues are well done. From the dingy rings in Lower Flushing to fairgrounds in Idaho, and some of the nicer arenas as you move up in the rankings, the game does sport a nice backdrop to the action. Some of the actions and animations can be a little cheesy – in reference to the fighter standing over a downed opponent, and there is some repetition in the corner chat between rounds, but these are all easily overlooked. There are also a few clipping problems, but again, this is no big deal.
Players may enjoy the challenges of looking for the openings in their opponent’s defense and the tapping in a jab to alter the stance, and combining it with hooks to the body, or vicious uppercuts. Stagger your opponent and he can go down at any time. He will usually rise before the 10 count if early in the fight, and from a bar that was bottomed out, he will regain health, but is susceptible to more devastating barrages. There is a problem here in that your opponent can get up and start to regenerate health. You can step in and nail him with a few good shots but rather than start his health bar on a downward spiral, instead it just momentarily seems to stop it from replenishing.
If you wear out your own energy and then stun your opponent, you may not have enough gas in the tank for a finishing barrage.
Also, you will have the opportunity to take on fights that automatically change your weight classification, so it is best to read the fine print for each fight. While you can win the title in one class and then step up, to retain both belts you have to fight ranked opponents once every 52 weeks. The only problem with this can be that as you switch weight classes, you lose attribute points. For example, you may have your power almost maxed, then step up in weight class for a ranked fight and suddenly lose 17% of your power base – meaning you have to concentrate all over again on that aspect. And then if you go back down to defend a title, you lose more attribute points. It can become a bothersome exercise.
However, in spite of some of the minor frustrations, Fight Night Round 3 is a solid and challenging PSP title, sporting great sound and nice graphics.
Review Scoring Details for Fight Night Round 3
The fights can end quickly and you are left with more load time than game time – not often though. The controls are simply to use and integrate the mechanics of the game with the platform nicely. The game is not overly deep, but makes for a nice portable experience
Nothing too flashy here, but really serviceable. The animations are fluid and while you may see a bit of a delay in going from the head to the body with blows, or vice-versa, the animations work well in concert with the control input.
The musical score can be repetitious, but the tunes are solid and appropriate. The announcer suffers from the same repetitive phraseology but does a good job. The fight sounds are also redundant with the boxer growling each time he throws a telling blow.
There are different difficulty modes and the challenge ramps up accordingly.
The AI can be suspect at the lower settings and if you aspire to hold several belts at once you will be in a rut of losing stats and regaining them to fight each foe.
Finding an online opponent, at this stage, is tough because of the newness of the release. But while the AI is decent – at times – fighting a human foe that can adjust to your attacks is much better.
Some of the fights, especially early on in your career, are over with in less time than it takes to load the bout. But that aside, this is a title that is fun and addictive. Particularly enjoyable is the way you can manage your career up the ladder – even though your rival does not seem to progress at the same pacing. While Fight Night Round 3 is not a perfect fight, it does present a nice jab combo in the entertainment department and is a worthy contender for the attention of handheld fight fans.