Fight Night Round 3

Makes Rocky Balboa look like a bit of slap and tickle

Without betraying our red-blooded hetero credentials, PSW has found itself obsessing over a handful of well-built men in shorts. Specifically those with sweat trickling down rippled torsos and faces beaten to a bloody pulp. Fight Night Round 3 is compulsive viewing, and you can't help but admire the stark muscle definition and facial contortions of every boxer as they throw massive haymakers and get smacked in the chops.

Immersing yourself in such a visceral experience proves crucial in the new Get in the Ring mode, which loses the health and stamina bars and switches the action to a first-person perspective. Visual effects are added to show when your sight is affected after taking too many blows, and you'll need to keep an eye on your opponent to gauge when to move in for the kill. In truth, the mode is a bit gimmicky and makes dodging and blocking unnecessarily difficult, but it's a great way to show off the graphical power of PS3 to your sparring mates.

Overall, the fights in FNR3 are better balanced than in the previous games, with a boxer's size and shape taken into account more, and the powerful haymakers toned down and taking longer to execute. You'll need to master ducking and dodging on the Left stick as much as the different types of punches on the Right stick, whereas trying to play the game as a button basher results in your face kissing the canvas at least twice in the first round.

As bruising and proficient as the game is, it does possess a bit of a glass jaw that holds it back from gaining true legendary status. The long load times are inexcusable on PS3, while the Career mode is too simplistic and repetitive to make it feel like anything other than a slog. Online fights can sometimes suffer from horrendous lag - usually at a crucial moment when you're about to put an opponent down for good or are struggling to stay on your feet - though when you do play judder-free, it's amazing how involved you get. There were times when the whole PSW team would gather around the TV to hurl abuse at our online opponents!

We don't know many other sports games that manage to give you such a tangible sense of 'being there'.

The verdict

A visual knockout that's loads of fun to play - easily the finest launch sports game.

  • Boxers look incredibly real
  • Excellent control system
  • Multiplayer adds a new challenge
  • Load times and online lag
PlayStation 3
EA Sports
EA Sports