Fight Night Round 3
| Fight Night Round 3

There are two main viewpoints when it comes to boxing. In one corner are the proponents of a noble art who celebrate the agility, skills and strategy required to outmanoeuvre an opponent. At the other end are those who fail to see much more than a bruising endurance test.

Given the mobile phone's control limitations, you might expect the latter methodology to be the one that'd win out in the design meeting for a phone version, yet EA's Fight Night Round 3 has loftier ambitions.

Whilst the game does inevitably simplify some elements of ring craft (there's not much opportunity for fancy footwork here, for instance), the fact that 11 of the numeric keys are brought into play underlines the range of options available.

Indeed, with everything from crosses, uppercuts and gut-busters in attack to defensive blocks, dodges and clinches, Fight Night Round 3's armoury is without doubt the most varied on offer in any mobile fighting game we've seen.

Fortunately, you don't need to put your digits through a Rocky-style training regime in order to play. The cat-and-mouse approach of the action coupled with the neat ability to switch between upper and lower stances to block or jab from the thumbpad ensures that you can play the game single-handed, opening up your opponent with jabs and blocks before slipping your thumb to one of the bigger shots.

Indeed, the challenge becomes more one of strategy and timing than frantic button-stabbing. The latter approach might see you slug through the first few bouts against weaker opposition, but, as you progress, the power, speed and stamina of your opponent increases dramatically, ensuring that you have to use your head as well as your hands.

The further you get into the game (the Career mode sees you start at 20th and sets you fighting towards the title, place by place) the more you need to adopt a tactical approach, keeping an eye on the health indicators and generally picking your punches.

The option to add extra experience points to boost your own boxer's stats (every fighter has a bunch of figures, covering everything from speed to stamina) adds a little extra strategy, and enables you to shape your fighter's style. Will you be lightning fast with a glass jaw or a slugger with a big heart who just won't stay down? You can't really afford any of the stats to remain too low if you're to survive the later rounds, but it's a nice touch nevertheless.

Further customisation is on offer via the visual editing option, which shows off the impressively muscular 3D model of your pugilist. Sadly it also shows the limitations of 3D on mobile in that you only get one choice of boxer frame and can only modify colours (something that is further evidenced in-game with every boxer having the same frame, although the top ten fighters do have distinct faces).

It's hard to be critical of the visuals though; despite this niggle, the presentation is impressive for a Java title, with boxers moving fluidly and punches looking reassuringly solid when they connect (turn on the vibration effect and you'll get to feel them too!) What's more, the slight slow-motion effect when a boxer is dazed and the replay of knock-downs are both nice touches.

Technically then, Fight Night Round 3 is a genuine contender and arguably the most heavyweight boxing game available. In fact, our only real doubt about its claims for the title lies with the possible lack of that charismatic spark required of a true champion.

Whereas the likes of Super KO Boxing offered a crowd-pleasing gambit of gimmicky opponents, Fight Night wears its heart rather earnestly on its, erm, trunks, demanding that you take it seriously and put in the time. Three hours in and we're still just over halfway through Career mode, with virtually every fight going the distance.

All of which means that those seeking a five minute mindless slugathon should probably look elsewhere (say to the hugely fun Super KO Boxing). Hardened boxing fans however could find themselves truly hooked

Fight Night Round 3

A heavyweight boxing sim that provides a worthy sparring partner for fight fans
Chris James
Chris James
A footy game fanatic and experienced editor of numerous computing and game titles, bossman Chris is up for anything – including running Steel Media (the madman).