Review by chuckwaters1

"Fight Night Round 4 Review - I can beat Mike Tyson"

I can beat Mike Tyson……Really!

Boxing is a sport that many feel contains the most conditioned athletes. The sport itself has taken a step back in recent decades for various reasons but the boxers themselves have not. Today the sport is full of great personalities, ultimate warriors, and would be champions. It is a sport that test a man's will, heart, and endurance all at the same time. While this may sound dramatic, the ultimate premise is simple; Hit and don't get hit. Sounds simple enough right?

Introducing Fight Night Round 4, EA Sport's latest offering to the boxing world.

Over recent years many gaming fans of the sport have grown weary of the previous efforts offered up. Many were too rock'em-sock'em, some were too RPG-ish, and others were just plain silly. I won't name names but if you have been topside of the earth in the last decade you know what I am talking about. Thankfully Fight Night 4 (FN4) has atoned for many of these sins.

I want to focus on five areas of the game (Graphics, Sound, Presentation, Game play Replay Value)

Graphics

I said it once and I will say it again; FN4 is the most visually stunning boxing game in history. In the ring, out of the ring, on the way to the ring, it's all done with excellent quality. You see fighters faces tense up as they absorb a shot. You can even see muscles flinch and coil as boxers take shots at one another. Trunks sway and move like real fabric, and damage the boxer's take looks real. How nice is it to see your opponents face show damage like in real life.

The collision detection is the best in any sports game, yes I said it. While not 100% perfect, it is 99% there. You can actually see punches hit flush or glance off the head of your opponent. This is an important and key representation of boxing. You can throw ten punches in a row of the same type and will never get the exact same result each time. In addition I have seen fighters with long reach get abused as shorter fighters get inside to work and the long reached fighter's arms overshoot their target. Excellent!

And those awful rag-doll knock downs from the past are gone. I really got tired of my boxer looking like he was shot close range with a sawed-off bazooka.

Sound

The commentary provided by Ted Atlas and Joe Tessitore is well done. They seem to capture the action in the ring with good accuracy, although a few times I have noticed an inaccurate depiction of the match. Overall they seem natural and seemed to flow with the match very well.

In the corner, the sound of the trainers is waaay too low. At times I find myself struggling to hear what my trainer is saying. They do offer very good advice in the corner, it's just at times you can't hear it. The volume for them seems to go lower and I am not sure why (ever after adjusting the settings).

In the ring, I would like to have had more variation in the fighters in the sounds they make. Many fighters have distinct yells, grunts and sounds as they punch. I would have like to see this captured in the game but that's only a slight gripe of mine. The sounds of the punches are a mixed bag for me. While I know not all punches offer a ‘snap' that is heard around the arena some do. Maybe this is something that can be tweaked in the next version.

Presentation

This is the largest roster of real fighters in a game ever. I won't recap what most of you already know. I do wish a few more guys could have been included, but I understand the work that goes into doing so. Thankfully, Photo Face is available in the game and we can create fighters that are missing (well as best we can) EA does itself justice with the introduction of new ring gear and robes. You can change gloves, robes, shoes, trunks etc. All items can be colored to your liking. Look for my signature blue and gold gloves online folks. This was long overdue and makes me wonder why it took so long to get it. Weather you watch Boxing on ESPN Wednesday/Friday Night Fights, HBO Boxing after Dark, or boxing on Showtime, one thing is consistent; Tale of the Tape. This is an opportunity for us to showcase the attributes of a fighter, his last several fights, his record, and where he is from. Yeah it may seem petty but it's a staple of the sport. Leaving this out is like leaving out the First Down market in Football. Sure you know that you need 10 yards, but it needs to be called out. Also, fights that go to the cards are about as exciting as a warm bucket of hamster vomit. The cards should be read with some level of anticipation (i.e. The first judge scores it 115-113 for Hatton, the second judge has it 115-113 for Pacquio, and the final judge has it 115-113 for your winner and NEW WBO welter weight champion….). Again, simple changes, but they add tons of authenticity to the sport.

Game play

In the ring, Fight Night Round 4 is the most complete boxing experience to date. Is it perfect, no. But as of today, it is the best boxing game when you step inside the squared circle. The sweet science was done justice with this game. The new countering system is well done, and rewards defensive play. Now if only the judges did. The advertisement that ‘no two punches are alike' holds true and the folks that worked on the game engine to make it happen should be applauded for their efforts.

Also, adding a meter to a fighter's ‘block' is sheer genius. It helps to eliminate the level of ‘cheese' we saw in previous versions. I only wish the meter degraded like the other meters. As a player slows in later rounds, usually defense fades and more punches slip through. The biggest gripe around heard around the world is the omission of ‘buttons' from the game play configuration. This was a conscience move by EA, and one that I support.

Stamina falls as your fighter is hit in the body, which is just as it should work. The physics engine plays almost too well, if there is such a thing. Punch accuracy plays a major part inside the ring too, as it means the difference between landing a punch and landing a flush effective punch. I have also seen fighters arms become entangled during fights. Fighters with a long reach often when fighting close have their hooks miss and wrap around their target. This is sheer brilliance. I do hope EA works to improve the footwork of fighters in the ring. This and ‘stance' are two distinguishing characteristics among many fighters.

Speaking of distinguishing characteristics, there is an opportunity for EA here. Instead of signature punches being some sort of dance or show, add special moves that would add additional strategy. For instance Judah's Double jab, Quartey's signature Bazooka like Jab, and the Klitschos spring like Cross. Just a thought.

One other issue I would like to see improved are actual KO's. In the Pacquio vs. Hatton fight, the second KD had Hatton lying there like he had been shot close range with a Shotgun. He was literally out. After every KD, your opponent is trying to get up. How satisfying would I be to earn a KD/KO that ends the fight and your opponent is lifeless with doctors rushing in the ring and eventually carried out on a stretcher?

Replay Value (Legacy Mode)

Fight Night 4 Legacy mode is a mixed bag. While it is a drastic improvement over its predecessor in almost every way, it still leaves us scratching our head in many aspects. Many boxers will tell you that the hardest part of boxing takes place out of the ring, with making weight at the top of that list. EA if you are interested I have a very complete list of items that should be in the next version. Now I will applaud EA for the improvements made.

• Email - Adding an email type system to keep up with activity around the weight classes is a step in the right direction, however it was done in a way that feels disjointed.
• Training – I for one like the new training mini games; we still need more of them. Also, some of the points given for each could be better.
• Rankings – These just seem dead. I feel there should be more activity, more controversy, and more movement among these rankings.
• Scheduling – I like this view, the calendar aspect really adds a nice dimension to the game. You can go for broke and schedule a ton of fights early or pace yourself for the long haul. There are reports of issues with accepting a fight when you already have one scheduled causing issues for many. I have not faced this problem.

If I can add one thing, a glaring weakness of Legacy mode is the absence of money. Money is the reason Floyd Mayweather gets out of bed, Don King exist, and why Manny Pacquio can help his country. I can think of 5 significant ways money can help Legacy mode right off the top of my head. If anyone is willing to listen, give me a shout.

Closing Comments

Overall, EA Sports Fight Night Round 4 is the real deal, no pun intended since Holyfield is not in the game anyway. Maybe he should be, I hear he has money problems. I will ask him next time I see him at church. It is a huge leap forward for the genre and the franchise. Many major issues were addressed and problems were corrected. Now it's up to EA to continue to move the franchise forward. I won't list my recommendations at this time (unless someone asks me to). Once again, this is the best boxing game on any game system to date. Believe it.

Graphics – 10/10 – Best Looking Boxing Game EVER!

Sound – 9/10 – Great, Fresh Commentary by Teddy Atlas and Joe Tessitore.

Presentation – 8/10 – No tale of the tape? Email presentation and rankings leave a lot to be desired

Game play – 9/10 – Game engine physics are the best in a boxing game. Yes better than Boxer's Road 2.

Legacy/Career Mode – 7/10 – Improved over last year, but not even on par with other EA titles.

Overall – 8.6 / 10


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 07/29/09

Game Release: Fight Night Round 4 (US, 06/23/09)


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