Fight Night Round 3, Review PS2, EA Sports
Mixing random violence with scantily clad number-bearing ladies is always likely to lead to success and Fight Night Round 3 mixes both in spades. Choose from a list of great Boxers in a variety of weights from Muhammad Ali to Joe Frazier to Oscar de La Hoya and enter the ring.
The fights themselves are well constructed with as nice balance between defence and attack. Alongside the customary "big hit" option, the right analogue stick controls the majority of your armoury. From flicking the stick upwards for a jab to keep your opponent at arms-length to rolling the stick in semi-circles to land uppercuts and hooks. There is also a cheeky illegal move button depending on emotionally involved in the fight you are getting and you probably will be as it is thoroughly absorbing. Depending on your fighter this may take the form of a blatant head butt or a subtle elbow to the face. Be warned, whilst the referee may be dumb enough to miss these blatant disregards of the rules on a handful of occasions, but do it too much and you will be disqualified. Defensively you can block and sway in all directions depending on where you believe the attack is going to come from, all of which leaves you as the master of your own destiny. If you are taking a beating at any point you can also bide yourself some time to recover by hugging your opponent, dirty but sometimes effective enough to turn the tide.
In between rounds a parade of bikini-wearing vixens in high heels let you know which round is about to commence but you won't be watching the board….. You'll be acting as the cut man and repairing and wounds or swelling, as well as listening to your coach's advice. This gives a brief respite from the action which may or may not be welcome depending on how things are going, but it leaves you itching for more.
This is an excellent 2-player outing as there is nothing more satisfying than hitting your mate square in the face with a haymaker. This said the game is obviously designed for the 1-player career mode. You can either imitate the rise to the top of one of the great fighters at your disposal or create your own boxer and manage their career. In between contracted fights you have mini-games designed around increasing your fitness and skills as well as the ability to hire and fire your coach.
Fight Night Round 3 feels like more of a strategic boxing game than previous boxing simulations on the market where if you easily land a few big hits you are on to a winner. This has not been done at the expense of the satisfying big hits however, and when you land one you are genuinely satisfied because you feel that you had to work for the opening. My main criticism relates to the way that some computer-controlled opponents will just parry and block you to death. This is just so frustrating but in realising this frustration you realise how emotionally involved you have become and what an absorbing outing this is. I also think there are a distinct lack of arena's in which to display your talents or be beaten up, but this is a minor quibble. You will still be playing this until Round 4 appears.
8 out of 10