What does it sound like when you fire a canned ham out of a cannon targeted at a pile of brittle sticks? The answer is a fist against your face, unless you've put hours into Fight Night Round 3. Hang out learning the sweet science long enough and you might earn a PhD in placing punches ... or eating them.
When you're up against the ropes and the slowing of time sounds like a rush of wind past your ears, the desperation seizes you by the heart. If you can defend a handful of punches and get a clinch going, you can stay alive. If you can just parry the next punch you can go for the flash KO and turn the tables on this meathead. So many "if"s, but you don't have time to consider them all or the fight will have ended before you know what sledgehammered you. Stick and move, punk.
Fight Night Round 3's total punch control requires serious stick twiddling. It also prevents button mashing since punches are thrown by rolling the right analog stick. It's tricky at first, but chaining jabs, uppercuts and haymakers become second nature after a little practice. Blocking and parrying are more challenging moves to pull off since you've got to anticipate where a punch will land.
Between rounds, a mini-game allows you to play cut man to your battered fighter, scrubbing down swelling and swabbing gashes. It serves as a nice change of pace, but keeps you focused on the fight and maintains the tension at the same time.
Fight Night Round 3 enables you to play as history's hardest hitters, including Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier and Roy Jones, Jr. either in single bouts or by rebuilding their careers. EA's partnership with ESPN Classic delivers footage of the most infamous rivalries, which you can also play if you've got the guts.
While throwing dukes as licensed professional boxers is fun, the real meat is in the career mode. Choose your weight class, mold your face like a block of clay (before other boxers get a chance), divvy up your stat points and begin your life as an up-and-coming boxer.
There's more to it than putting punches together, though. Scouting future opponents clues you in on how you'll want to train for your next match. Training involves mastering three mini-games in order to develop your speed, power, agility and other essential traits.
This game won't go easy on you. You have to earn each combo and learn how to use the rhythm of a fight to your advantage. Just jabbing isn't going to drop any of your opponents. This complexity demands your total concentration, resulting in an all-consuming gaming experience. You're gonna lose hours to this game.