Of late, the limelight around boxing has dimmed somewhat. Up-and-coming stars, with the exception of British Olympic silver-medallist Amir Khan and seven-foot punch-machine Nikolay Valuev, are few and far between. Fortunately, the only downside in Fight Night Round 3 is just that problem - there's a distinct lack of new talent. Instead you'll be treading the canvas with old favourites like Ali and Lamotta. But even without a bolstered line-up, EA's pugilistic scrapper still delivers the goods.
Sadly, after being treated to the next-gen experience, we couldn't help but notice that the face-rippling impacts and intricate boxer expressions weren't there. But then again, we're playing it on a machine that's been doing the rounds for six years and the visuals on display really do push PS2 to breaking point.
The photo-realistic fighters resemble their meat-sack counterparts to a tee, lightning-quick jabs and combos flow from Sugar Ray Robinson with aplomb, and squat power punchers like Ricky Hatton patrol the ring relentlessly, slamming home hooks with devastating effects. Graphically, the only downer is that opening a gash on your opponent's mug looks more like face paint than claret.
Blood aside, Fight Night Round 3 flows like no other beat-'em-up. Year on year, the series of slick defensive sways and shattering counter punches is upped and improved, and this instalment follows suit. Take parrying punches for example. Perfectly deflect your foe's haymaker and he'll be open to a few well-placed counter uppercuts as he struggles to regain his composure.
You can even clean him out with a single punch if you get it spot on. Also, stringing together rapid combos now plays a more prominent role in deciding a fight. You could be going toe-to-toe with a heavy slugger like Joe Frazier, but Ali's quick flurries can confuse him, as his defensive skills are too slow to avoid the barrage of stinging jabs. It works in reverse too. Like if Hatton gets inside a nimble fighter, he can pound the ribs - lifting them off the canvas in the process - and leave them peeing blood for days. Nasty.