Monday, March 27, 2006

VG REVIEW: Fight Night Round 3

For some reason Blogger won't let me post pics today, so no screenshots. Sorry.

Electronic Arts, for Xbox 360, Xbox and PlayStation 2
rated T for Teen (blood, mild language, suggestive themes, violence), $39.99 (Xbox and PlayStation 2) and $59.99 (Xbox 360).

Video game snobs (and I probably qualify as one) like to make the claim that good graphics aren’t nearly as important as good game play.

It’s the controls and the interface and the overall aesthetic, they argue, that make a game succeed, not pretty pictures.

The horrible truth, however, is that graphics really do make a difference, at least some of the time. An excellent case in point is "Fight Night Round 3," the latest sequel in Electronic Arts’ ongoing boxing franchise.

The game itself is virtually indistinguishable from its predecessor. Aside from a few new punches and other minor tweaks, there’s nothing here that wasn’t around the last time. Particularly if you get the Xbox or PlayStation 2 editions.

Ah, but if you’re playing the Xbox 360 version, that’s a different story altogether.

The graphic overhaul for Microsoft’s latest and newest console does away with the need for health bars and damage meters. You can tell how much punishment your fighter is taking (or dishing out) because it’s plainly visible through the cuts and bruises on his face.

The improved graphics basically allow for a greater realism, a more immersive experience. You don’t realize how the interface gauges from previous games have built a wall between you and the game until you play without them.

As before, you battle other boxers in the ring by swinging the right thumb stick, mimicking an actual punch. Pulling back and then swinging around to the side, for example, can land a vicious haymaker.

It’s an ingenious system that makes you appreciate the sport of boxing a bit more. No longer is button mashing an option; players will have to learn to duck, block and use a bit of strategy to get a good punch in and knock their opponent to the canvas.

"Round 3" has all the features one has come to expect from an EA Sports title. You can "create a champ," replay historic rivalries such as Ali vs. Frazier and unlock a variety of special moves, clothes and even tattoos.

With so few solid titles out for the Xbox 360, "Fight Night Round 3" is sort of a no-brainer. If nothing else, the game proves that good graphics offer more than just a pretty face.

Copyright The Patriot-News, 2006


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