Fight Night Round 3 impressions

I saw Fight Night Round 3 for XBOX 360 at JB-HIFI after lunch today. Here are my thoughts.

Firstly, the graphics are very good. They look similar to the Playstation 3 demo shown at E3 last year. The skin rendering is top notch and the animation is realistic (but not always smooth). As with most games that involve close contact between characters, the biggest visual problems have to do with surfaces passing through each other. This is clearly a physical simulation issue, but it does severely affect the graphics. Especially since the general awesomeness makes these mistakes that much more glaring. Every time one boxer’s arm passed through the other’s boxing glove stood out like a… well, an arm going through a glove.

The things that struck me (more so than the graphics) about Fight Night Round 3 were the control scheme and gameplay. The oustanding bit about the control scheme is that you use the right analog stick for “total punch control”. In terms of gameplay nuances, you play the role of the coach between rounds and have to “patch up” your boxer by rubbing ice on his swollen face. Another thing I saw was that when you are knocked out, instead of just mashing the buttons to get back up, the camera changes to first person and you have to use the two analog sticks to line up circles to pull yourself back into consciousness. Neato!

How to wrap things up? I expected the graphics, but was surprised by the gamplay. I noticed that most people crowded around were keen to look, but not really keen to play. I wonder if this says something about promoting graphics above all the neat gameplay features. Will consumers take a look, but ultimately pass it by without even trying it out?

Note: All the gameplay is also in the Playstation2 and XBOX versions of the game.