Fight Night Round 3 REVIEW

Fight Night Round 3 Review (PSP)

Fight Night Round 3 makes it's PSP debut as a good-looking, button-mashing boxing title, but much of the subtlety and strategy that's become the hallmark of the series is washed away in this fun-but-simplistic port.
To put it simply, Fight Night looks great on the PSP. The boxers are instantly recognizable, even on the PSP's small screen, and they animate very well. The camera angles and overall visual design of the game shine, with only the clunky-looking HUD (which is necessary on such a small screen) detracting from the impressive look of the title. The game runs very smoothly, and more details than you'd expect, especially with regard to the boxers' damage, are easily visible during game play. There really isn't anything to complain about here - the game's a looker, and it'll show off your PSP's power quite nicely indeed.
This part of Fight Night Round 3's total package is a littlelacking, but on a handheld, I'm not sure how much that really matters. Joe Tessitore's commentary is decent, but it doesn't stand out. Even less impressive are the boxers' trainers, who tend to spout clichés instead of offering any real tips. There are only a few songs playing in the background menus, and while they're not bad, they do get repetitive in a hurry. The in-ring sounds are serviceable - they do the job, but don't really bring you into the action.
Part of this is the nature of the PSP itself - the system's speakers are small and therefore naturally somewhat tinny, and listening to the thump of gloves hitting over headphones just seems odd.
On the whole, however, the audio portion of the game is decent, but if you're like me, you won't be cranking up the PSP's sound while playing, anyway, so you likely won't miss anything.
The PSP version of the game sports two new and enjoyable modes, and is missing the training mini-games of it's console companions, but in general, Fight Night Round 3's on the PSP has more in common with last year's Round 2 on consoles.
The new modes, Rival Challenge and My History, are essentially mini-games - which I believe are an absolute must for any portable sports game.
Rival Challenge is related to the ESPN Classics mode in the console version of Round 3, but is broken up into more palatable bite-sized chunks. You'll be thrown into a famous bout of the past at a critical time. Fight well and accomplish your goal, and you'll be awarded a medal and cash (which can be used in Career Mode). They're brief, five-minute affairs, and I enjoyed making my way through the matches. My History works as both mini-game and training tool. You'll have to change your style to fight against a particular kind of boxer. I particularly enjoyed trying to play defense against Joe Frazier - I'm a sloppy defensive player, and while I enjoyed the mode, I knew it was making me better at the game, as well. That's good design - especially on a portable system.
The Career Mode feels plucked from last year's console version - and as it turns out, that's not necessarily a bad thing. You'll actually work to climb the rankings, and the more interesting four-quadrant "cut man" function between rounds has been retained for this version.
It feels a bit like you're playing last year's game on a smaller screen at times, but judging by the lackluster Career Mode of the console versions this year, this may a case of addition by subtraction.
It looks like Fight Night, but the limitations of the PSP means that most of the game play controls that makes Fight Night special are gone. By using the triggers incessantly as modifiers and having to use multiple button presses from certain punches takes the smooth fun of punching on the console version away and ends up turning the game into a glorified button-masher on the PSP. That doesn't mean that the game's bad in and of itself, but it takes a unique game experience and turns it into a mundane one.
There's no way to tap-dance around this - the lack of a right analog stick absolutely destroys the unique experience of Fight Night.
Of course, this really isn't EA's fault, and I don't know what else they could have done. Still, it is what it is - and it's somewhat disappointing.
Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you see it - you won't need to go through too many finger contortions because the AI looks like it's already gone 12 rounds by the time the fight starts. They're not creative, and it's easy to guess what they'll do next. There is some challenge if you're going to actually try and box, but you'll be primarily challenging yourself, as you can wade in flinging hooks left and right and stand a good chance of winning most bouts.
It's still fun, but the combination of a poor control scheme and questionable opponent AI remove every aspect of "simulation" in the game.
Yikes. It's laggy, inconsistent, and you need to either pay EA $2 or - to put it bluntly - Welcome to Spamland - Population: you.
Yes, you can give out a fake e-mail address - and I recommend that you do - but gamers shouldn't have to be subjected to this nonsense in the first place.
It's not a total disaster, though. It's possible that the lag issues could be alleviated somehow, and EA did make the effort to utilize Sony's over-worded Infra… online play.
Fight Night Round 3 may have been better served by completely re-working the game and thinking about the limited realities of the PSP before setting down to port it from consoles.
While some of the game's issues are unavoidable, they nevertheless detract from the overall experience.
That said, however, it's still a fun game, and it looks great. The Rival Challenge mode is a blast, and it's perfect for blowing off a little steam and killing time in the process. There's decent depth here, and despite the fact it's no longer a sophisticated game, it can still provide some challenge.
It's not really Fight Night as you know it, but there's still enough here to enjoy.

Fight Night Round 3 Score
out of 10