The first time you break Joe Frazier’s jaw, you might feel kind of bad. But don’t worry: After a few more fights, you’ll get over it.

Morgan Morel

In the hyper-realistic “Fight Night Round 3” for Xbox 360, EA Sports has taken console boxing to new levels with incredible detail and a polished ringside experience.

In a wise move, EA kept “Round 3’s” controls and gameplay in line with its predecessors. The game utilizes a slightly modified version of EA’s Total Punch Control for fluid punch execution and maneuvering. The days of button-mashing slugfests are gone, with all movement controlled by the analog sticks.

This time around, EA expanded the bout-shifting haymaker punch by offering three variations known as impact punches, each with their own degree of risk and reward. The new punches are well implemented in the control scheme and give players better control and handling.

The execution of the different punches varies from fighter to fighter; individual styles are spot on. The artificial intelligence-controlled boxers resemble their real-life counterparts from their aggressiveness and fighting style down to the way they navigate the ring.

The same goes for controlling the fighters, as each boxer has their own feel and technique that makes choosing your boxer less about the color of his trunks and more about how he matches your strategy.

The style and mannerisms of the fighters are propelled even further via the game’s spectacular graphics. The fighters are incredibly lifelike: Their composure is constantly changing as the fight progresses. A knockout or impact punch causes time to slow down and players can see the force of the punch move through the victim’s body – often altering bone structure and drawing blood.

Gamers will likely spend the majority of their time in the career mode, in which they can choose to create their own boxer and modify their technique as they wish, or choose a real boxer to guide through his career. Boxers start out as amateurs and work their way up the ranks, fighting in various sponsored events and title bouts against real and fictitious fighters. In “Round 3,” gamers are now able to move up weight classes once they’ve claimed their rightful belt, thereby increasing the difficulty and lengthening the mode.

On the downside, the career mode can become rather monotonous when players are constantly fighting and training with little diversion – outside of buying new gloves and accessorizing their boxers.

Another new feature in the career mode assigns boxers a “rival” who keeps popping up during their career. It seems to be a failed experiment; it in no way enhances the game. Occasionally there will be a weigh-in cut scene before a rival fight that ends with the rival sucker-punching the player’s boxer. It gets old fast.

Although the career additions may be fewer than one could hope for, online gameplay is where “Fight Night” truly shines. Boxing is the perfect platform for online sports gaming, because fights don’t consume too much time and trash talking is a must. Detailed stats and rankings are automatically compiled over time so players can chart their progress.

It’s just a shame Jim Braddock wasn’t included. “Raging Bull” and “Cinderella Man” head to head would have been sublime.

Fight Night Round 3
Xbox 360
EA Sports

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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