Fight Night Round 3 PS2 Review

You may have already read DarkZero’s review of Fight Night Round 3 on the 360 and seen that we liked it…a lot. However, much of that was inevitably down to the almost photo realistic graphics given to us by the next-gen power of the Xbox 360. The question is, can EA’s 3rd instalment of its Fight Night series give us such satisfaction on the old generation of console, namely the PS2. Does the gameplay hold up without such spectacular graphics and, if you are yet to commit to the next generation, is this worth a punt in the meantime? Allow me to answer some of those questions for you.

The chances are that, if you are not buying this for the 360, it’s because you don’t yet have one. In that case, it’s also unlikely that you will have seen much of the 360’s graphical horsepower. What I’m driving at is that, having not seen the 360 version, you will not be disappointed with the graphics of this game. Sure, it’s not as shiny, and each bead of sweat not as clear, but this is a damn fine looking game in its own right, and without actually comparing the two side by side, you will be impressed at what the PS2 continues to produce on the visual front. The boxers are instantly recognisable (well, providing you are a boxing fan!) and the various arenas are nicely detailed. The crowd is a bit lifeless and ‘cardboard cut-out’ looking, but something has to give on a system that’s as aged as the PS2. You’ll hardly be looking at the crowd as you are concentrating on not getting your face caved in, so it’s a minor gripe really.

The boxer models move convincingly and Fight Night retains that uncanny ability to make you ‘feel’ every punch. Bodies contort in agony, faces scowl and the knockouts are even better than last time, with excellent ragdoll physics that ensure boxers go to ground in a realistic way. I also quite like the ‘black and white’ effects that accompany some re-enactments of older bouts, but EA continue to miss a trick in the staging of old events. Like other games where this occurs, Fight Night simply turns the screen black and white without making any adjustments to what is on screen. So you continue to get modern clothing on the crowds, laser lights and modern day advertisements around the arena. Had the arenas been remodelled for the older fights, the level of immersion would have been upped considerably.

The boxing engine within the game is very solid indeed, and the Total Punch Control is back virtually untouched. This is not a criticism, as in this game it’s definitely a case of “if it ain’t broke…” Punches are thrown with the right analogue stick whilst movement is controlled by the left stick. It remains by far the best control mechanism ever to have featured in a boxing game, and leads to some incredibly satisfying tactical bouts. The AI is very good, but as always, fighting games are at their best when played against a human opponent. Online play remains included, but feels a lot more clunky and cumbersome than that in Round 2, and that’s a shame. Get a mate in front of your TV, though, and prepare yourself for some top class gaming, especially suited to a late night session after a few drinks down at the pub.

Two new punches find their way into the game, the Flash KO and the Stun Punch. The Stun Punch takes you into a first person perspective and allows you to do some real damage to your opponent. The timing here is, though, rightfully tricky to ensure that this doesn’t become an all too powerful move. The Flash KO is a last ditch, big move that is slow and difficult to pull off but can turn a fight in an instant. It leaves you very open to countering, though, so is really one to try when desperation is just starting to sink in.

The career mode has been somewhat reworked but is largely the same in structure. Create your boxer and battle your way up the rankings, taking part in training mini games to enhance your stats. It’s all solid enough and will take you a good while to work your way through.

A mixed bag this. The effects of glove on face are done very well and are suitably meaty. This adds to the realism and the feeling of punches really hitting home. The music in the game is OK, but is almost completely of the hip hop scene. The previous game contained a much wider range of music to suit boxers’ entrances from different nationalities, and that certainly seems to have been cut back in this game. Still, it’s all a matter of taste and the music fits the boxing theme well enough. Crowd noises are all present and correct, and change depending on the situation in the bout. What does grate, though, is the commentary. There’s nothing wrong with it per se, but the range of phrases is woefully limited and you’ll very soon be hearing a lot of repetition.

As is the case with many sports games, this boils down to two things. Do you have friends to play against and/or do you have the means to take the game online? If so, Fight Night Round 3 will last you a fair old while as bouts against other real players do not become boring any time soon. The career mode is fun for a single play through, but it’s in the multiplayer that the game shines. In this day of more common broadband connections, I can’t really mark the game down for this as it also has a very good single-machine multiplayer as well.

Fight Night Round 3 on PS2 is a good game. It’s not a great game, but it is a solidly good game. On 360, people are rightly impressed with the graphical breakthroughs the next-gen is providing, but without that wow factor, we are left with a game that is a worthy, but unessential upgrade on Fight Night Round 2. If you don’t own that game, by all means give this a whirl, but I really do not think that this is worth your cash if you have played a lot of its predecessor.

8 out of 10
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