• Fight Night Round 4 - Header

    Queensberry Rules

    Boxing is one of those “sports” that truly divides people. Some follow it religiously, soaking up the heady atmosphere surrounding fighters and fights. Others see it as a purely barbaric sport enjoyed by low-brow neanderthals who seek vicarious thrills in observing blind ugly violence. Me? I’m a gamer, these arguments wash off me like water off a duck’s back.

    I remember picking up Fight Night Round 3 purely because of the demo. I have pretty much ignored boxing games wholesale (though I did once own one on the Acetronic MPU 1000 which was imaginatively called “Boxing” and was truly awful. Go google for it if you don’t believe a console with such a dappy name ever existed!). Fight Night is something different though, something special and Fight Night Round 3 was an intense and addictive game.

    Many players who cut their teeth (and their lips, cheeks, eyes etc) on Round 3 have bemoaned the fact that Fight Night Round 4 dispenses with button controls and is purely controlled by right-stick gestures (EA’s “Total Control” gameplay mechanic which they use pretty much right across the board on their 360 / PS3 titles). The argument seems to hinge around being able to effectively chain together a flurry of moves into a devastating combination. Button fighters have previously had the luxury of being able to do this with ease, whereas using total control and the right stick, flurries of moves are not so easily attained. EA has now levelled the playing field, and with Fight Night Round 4 at least if you go online, you know that your opponent is having to use the same control system as you, thus does not have an unfair advantage. A big plus point, if you ask me.

    Fight Night Round 4 - Review Screenshot

    Visually stunning and bloody

    From the moment you start up your first quick fight, you can’t help but admire the sheer amount of work that’s gone into making each boxer look incredibly realistic. Trading your first few blows, you can’t help but wince every time your opponent hits you with a devastating haymaker, disorientating you and making you struggle to recover your health and stamina. Facing off against some of boxing’s greatest fighters is certainly a daunting prospect, but picking a pre-built fighter and launching into a match is only half the fun. There’s a heck of a lot more to this game than meets the eye.

    Creating a boxer from scratch is an incredibly deep and satisfying experience. EA offers you several options including, most interestingly, the chance to use that useless Live Cam that you’ve had sitting under a pile of old games and manuals, gathering dust. Break out the live cam, and with 15 minutes of patient fiddling you can come up with an absolutely convincing (eerily so) model of yourself to put into the game. EA even give you the option to embellish your appearance (thank gawd) so you can give yourself huge pectoral muscles, a chest like a cave bear and even a mohawk.

    This is easily the best use of the Live Cam in a game ever. Rainbow Six Vegas had previously made a good attempt to use the Live Cam for pepping up your virtual in-game avatar, but this is something else. Once you’ve captured a front / side view of your head, you can tweak the node points ensuring that the 3D model generated from your data is as accurate as possible. Better still, you can upload your boxer to EA’s gaming network, giving others the opportunity to take you to the canvas. There are already some excellent user-created boxers on there (predictably, several Rockies, Clubber Langs, Ivan Dragos) so even though there are several ommissions from the great british boxing rosters, you can just make them yourself and put them in the game.

    Fight Night Round 4 - Review Screenshot

    Punchdrunk love

    The game itself is split into quick match, online and the new Legacy mode. Legacy mode is where your career is built from those initial training bouts and fights in a seedy back-alley gym to the professional World Boxing Championship bouts with all their sparkle and glory. Despite having to learn the nuances of the gestural control system, it’s very easy to quickly pick up and get used to, and the button modifiers for haymakers, blocks and dodges are nicely placed on the 360 pad. Admittedly I can see why some button fans would have a problem with the game but denying yourself this nigh-on essential purchase based on the fact that the game’s that little bit harder for you is…well, just silly really.

    My first bout went incredibly badly, and poor Peej was knocked out in Round 3 and didn’t get back up again. Indulging in the training helped me realise where I’d gone wrong, and once I’d scheduled a few more fights into my Legacy calendar, the game got its hooks into me just like FNR03 did.

    At its most basic level, Fight Night Round 4 is probably one of the best fighting games on the 360. Diving deeper into the complexity of what’s on offer here, you can fully understand why EA are at the top of their game when it comes to sports sims as they’ve virtually thought of everything a boxing fan (or indeed a fighting game fan) would possibly wish for. There will be lots of wailing and mashing of teeth about the loss of button control, and EA have hinted that it may be factored back in at a later date possibly as a downloadable option (not easy to see how they’ll put button controls in along with the existing button modifiers but let’s hope the DLC isn’t a paid for option, that would be rotten in the extreme).

    To summarise, Fight Night Round 4 is a game I’ve already lost hour after hour to, and it still has me wanting even more – in fact I’m sitting here wondering what on earth I’m typing this for when I could be playing it. It’s a deep multi-layered game that boxing fans absolutely should not miss out on, and even if you find boxing a little distasteful, you can’t deny that it’s one heck of a game

    What do you think of Fight Night Round 4? Leave your comments below…

    Score: 9/10

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    • http://displacedbrett.wordpress.com brett

      This game is super rad. Just got it a week ago and it’s all i’ve been doing with my time. I mean, having Mike Tyson in the game was enough for me to like it already, but they’ve improved so much the last one – the corporate ads aren’t as omnipresent and annoying, the game play has less of a pre-determined feel to it, and they actually have some cool music (rad remixes of Tokyo Police Club’s “The Baskerillve’s” and El-P’s “Flyentology” amongst others).

      It still kinda sucks to play online because most of the gamers are just random button mashers who over-punch instead of trying to fight realistically, but if you play with friends that actually know about boxing than this game is fun as hell…you can easily emulate Ali’s rope-a-dope or Tyson’s peek-a-boo styles. I guess the only other negative I have is that in Career Mode the mini-games are a bit of a drag…fun at first, but too hard to get max points on, and even if you do, it doesn’t boost your attributes enough. Ugh. I think you should be able to get more points from how well you actually perform in fights…but it’s a minor complaint compared to an overall awesome game.

      Anyway check out this gameplay video of Mike Tyson vs. Winky Wright that I found: http://displacedbrett.wordpress.com/2009/07/02/fight-night-round-4/