Review by UPRC
"Fight Night Round 4 knocks the competition out."
I recently watched all six Rocky movies, each for the first time, and I felt very sad when I was finished because they were just such fantastic films and I didn't want Rocky to just end. I wanted more Rocky, even though I had finished the movie series. I began looking up Rocky games, but none of them seemed to appeal to me very much after reading several things about poor gameplay. This is where Fight Night Round 4 comes into play. After finding out that the Create-A-Boxer feature was better than ever, and that I could download user-made Rocky Balboa and friends, I jumped on top of this game like a kitten with catnip.
I had previously owned Fight Night Round 3, but I found myself growing tired of the game after only a week of owning it. While my love of the Rocky franchise is what drove me to consider buying this game, it was the fact that I heard that gameplay was improved tremendously since the last game that sealed the deal.
Fight Night Round 4 is a very meaty package. Ali, De La Hoya, Foreman, Frazier, Holyfield, Pacquiao, Tyson and many other respectable fighters are present in the game, bringing the total number of boxers to a couple dozen. There is also the aforementioned Create-A-Boxer feature, and a Download Boxer option that allows you to download other people's created boxers, so the size of your roster can be absolutely gigantic.
The graphics are absolutely fantastic and are a huge improvement from Round 3. In the previous game, I found that animations were clunky, and big hits to the face were delivered and presented in over-the-top and silly fashion. Round 4 aimed for a more realistic approach. While the punches don't look as painful as they did in the previous game, they certainly look more authentic and are more enjoyable to watch.
Boxer details are fantastic. Some, like Mike Tyson, look true to life and are identifiable within a second. Boxer clothes and gear, as well as skin, look stunning. Clothes animate and flow beautifully while skin looks eerily convincing, especially once the boxers go a round or two and become excessively sweaty. Despite all of these amazing details, the game loads each fight remarkably fast and I can't help but feel impressed.
There is a fair amount of loading on menus, however. It may be a recurring auto-save feature, but it still happens far too frequently. I frequently get random hang-ups on sub-menus when I am changing options or trying to select boxers, and I just don't understand why. It just happens at the wrong times and I can't really excuse it.
The sound is fantastic. While I tire of hearing the same created-boxer voice groaning and grunting all the time, the rest of the game sounds very good. I typically hate hip-hop, but I find myself not minding the music in this game as I just do my own thing, whatever it may be. Ingame commentary is very good, perhaps the best in any EA Sports game that I have ever played. Everything else, from the crowds to the punches, sounds very authentic and great.
Gameplay is simply put, brilliant. Since I only know enough boxing terms to quickly summarize what I see happening, I probably can't describe the gameplay at a level that boxing fans would prefer. The only current generation boxing games I've played are the two most recent Fight Night games, so all I can really compare this game to is the one that came before it. Does it beat Round 3? Well, if these two games went at it in the boxing ring, Round 3 would be down and out in the first round.
During matches, you have three meters that determine your performance and how effective your boxer is. These meters are health, stamina, and block. Health is pretty self-explanatory, as all you have to do with that is make sure it does not become depleted. When it's low enough, your boxer will become stunned and they are very vulnerable in this state. Usually only a few hits will send their faces to the floor.
Stamina deals with how much your body can take and what it can do. If you focus on throwing too many punches, then you'll find your character will become very exhausted and tired, and as a result, they will be throwing very weak punches. To recover your stamina, all you really need to do is avoid taking or throwing punches for several seconds.
The block meter decides how effective your blocking is. If you abuse the block feature too much, your block meter will reflect this and your boxer will have a harder time blocking most punches.
While I like to just hop into standard fights involving whatever two boxers I prefer, there's also the legacy mode. I don't dabble too much with that since I rarely enjoy career mode features. However I am aware that the legacy mode in Round 4 is pretty thorough. I spent a little bit of time with it and enjoyed having to fight to unlock items, as well as to build my wrestler's reputation. It's pretty straight forward and involves fights, fights, fights, more fights, and training.
I find myself enjoying Round 4 immensely. In fact, I am enjoying it so much that I find it fun to even watch two AI boxers of my choosing beat each other around. Being a Rocky fan, it should be fairly obvious that one of the first fights I kicked back and watched was Rocky Balboa versus Apollo Creed. The Italian Stallion came out on top, of course.
Fight Night Round 4 is undoubtedly the best boxing game available at the moment, and if you have any interest in the sport at all then this is the game for you.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 07/07/11
Game Release: Fight Night Round 4 (US, 06/23/09)
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