Focusing on the white-hot core of seething rage that is the sport of kings, Fight Night Round 3 hopes to turn the chest-thumping and show-boating of real boxers into a personal experience; rivalries can erupt into knuckle-tearing street brawls at press conferences or even at the scales while weighing in before a fight.
Expanding on the previous Haymaker system, Fight Night Round 3 adheres to a "one punch can change a fight" concept: Flash KO punches can shift fight dynamics instantly or start an arcadey and innovative first-person mini-game that resembles the old-school pleasures of Nintendo's Punch-Out!!
Licensed legends from Ali to De La Hoya are set to get in the virtual ring, and not just their images--their styles of fighting will be replicated as well. Gamers can even define a style all their own by mixing and matching elements from other pros. EA's partnership with ESPN allows for access to ESPN Classic's archive of real-life boxing matches both in video and playable forms.
However, we saw a big disconnect between the current and next generation consoles while viewing this game at EA's Redwood Shores campus. While the Xbox 360 version was rivetingly immersive (employing facial animations to indicate health status instead of the standard power bars), the PS2 and Xbox versions with their typical bar-based interface lack the power to convincingly mimic a flagging boxer's behavior. Still, Fight Night Round 3 has time to train, and what's there so far looks brutal. It's obvious that the development team is dead set on delivering something...well, visceral.