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Game Profile
INFO BOX
PLATFORM:
Xbox 360
PUBLISHER:
EA Sports
DEVELOPER:
EA Chicago
GENRE: Sports
PLAYERS:   1-2
RELEASE DATE:
February 20, 2006
ESRB RATING:
Teen


IN THE SERIES
Fight Night Champion

Fight Night Champion

Fight Night Round 4

Fight Night Round 4

Fight Night Round 3

More in this Series
 Written by Glenn Wigmore  on January 31, 2006

Hands-On Preview: Smackin' some dude in the jaw has never seemed so real? or so fun.


The demo for Fight Night: Round 3 affirms two key points about the Xbox 360 console: the Xbox 360 Marketplace can be an extremely powerful promotional tool, and the console itself is capable of some truly inspired next-generation visuals. The final game won't arrive on store shelves for another three weeks, but if the demo is any indication, Fight Night: Round 3 looks to bring a real treat of a boxing game to fans of the sport, as well as those who want to see some great graphics and eerily realistic gameplay.

Fight Night: Round 3 is being developed by EA Chicago, an off-shoot of EA Sports that is also currently developing a next-gen version of the Def Jam series. Kudo Tsunoda, Executive Producer at EA Chicago, has often mentioned how the game will be built around impact punches and rivalries. The impact punches are meant to provide a fluid and unpredictable nature to the bouts, effectively allowing the direction of a given fight to change at any moment. These stun punches are usually a large haymaker of sorts that take a lot of time to load up but that can deal quite a bit of damage, if landed. The rivalries in the game are meant to influence the career mode, as well as the ESPN Classic-style bouts. In a career, you'll develop rivalries with specific fighters that will brew over time, creating a long-lasting impact on your fighter's boxing life. Tsunoda has mentioned how the career modes in many games always seem so linear, only giving you a reward at the end of the journey; he wants to have a sense of achievement within the course of the journey. The classic fighters in the game ? Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Jake LaMotta, amongst others ? are also showcased in many classic scenarios that help re-enact the famous fights they participated in.

In terms of the demo, well, it plays pretty damn well. The visuals jump out immediately when playing the game, especially the detail on the fighters (in this case, Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr.). Skin tone and muscle definition on the combatants is insanely realistic, and this is amplified by some truly great lighting that highlights the detail on the faces, bodies, gloves and trunks. The gloves on the fighters look particularly spectacular, and this is pronounced when the light from above the ring shines on them.

Appreciating the detail of the fighters (and surroundings) really comes when you get a good look at the animations. Not only do the punches land realistically, but also the reaction of the fighters after being hit is equally impressive. The game heavily uses a replay feature to showcase knockdowns, and it is in these moments that the detail of the animations is off the charts. You'll see the fist connect with your opponent's face ? at exactly the point you punched ? and send a ripple through his flesh; then his face accurately deforms based on the momentum and location of the punch, and finally some blood and sweat falls off his face or out of his mouth. This sequence of animation is probably one of the most spectacular I've seen in a game from the past few years.

Another key element to note about Fight Night: Round 3 is that no HUD is used to indicate health, stamina, round time, and all other fight details ? this is definitely unique. Not only does this feature give the game a cinematic quality, but it further enhances the gameplay, as you have to watch the other fighter's posture, glove position, and the cuts and bruises on his face. The last element is particularly key, as the swelling and cuts on the boxers' faces look so accurate that you can tell how beat up they are just by looking at them.

Sound also plays a substantial role in the demo, and you'll experience a similar level of quality to that of the graphics. The announcers call the action fairly spot on, with some missteps, but they can also be useful for indicating the status of you or your opponent's fatigue level. Punches sound particularly devastating, as does the shell-shocked replay animation, which features minimal ambient sound and just keys in on the impact. You'll also hear fans from around the gym hooting and hollering, and they effectively create a din that adds to the atmosphere.

The Fight Night: Round 3 demo controls quite a bit like the previous Fight Night games, but with the inclusion of impact punches it gets a little more diverse. You'll mainly use the right thumbstick to land various blows ? based on how you move it ? and the left thumbstick to move your fighter around. The face buttons can be used for punching as well, and this actually provides quicker combos for certain punches. Still, the right thumbstick can create smoothness to uppercuts and haymakers so it remains useful, nonetheless. Blocking requires the use of the right trigger and the right thumbstick, and this allows you to manually control your blocks (you can evade as well). The d-pad pretty much takes care of the rest of the boxing functions including clinching, dirty punches, and taunts. The game doesn't always control as smoothly as one might want, and you will find that there is some delay to certain actions, but hopefully some issues of smoothness and flow can be ironed out for the game's release.

The game also has a few other glitches right now, especially with some of the replays and graphical clipping, but these are still minor in the grand scheme of how good the game looks. Fight Night: Round 3 still looks incredibly good, and the gameplay is shaping up to be quite entertaining. Add on to this the fact that it will feature some promising online support and you've got a game that is looking like a real contender. Look for a review of the game after its release in late February.

Final Thoughts
The demo of Fight Night: Round 3 proves that the next-generation of graphics might be arriving sooner than expected, plus the gameplay carries some substantial wallop. Here's hoping the final game puts it all together.


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