Review by Bob Bastard
"You'll probably want to skip this one if you aren't a Fight Night fan."
I loved UFC Undisputed 2010, and I thought Fight Night Round 4 would be similar to it, and by the time I wanted to buy it, it was only $20, so I went ahead. Silly me.
Note that I played Round 3 before and thought it was terrible, so I was never a Fight Night fan. If you liked Round 3 you will almost certainly like Round 4, because it's at least improved from that.
I have to say that the character models look incredible, and that the boxers look just like they did in real life. The rings were unremarkable, but they're unremarkable in real life too, so I can't really blame the developers for that. What I will blame them for is the knockout physics; if you hit someone with a left hook haymaker, they should NOT fly directly backwards, bounce off the edge unrealistically, and fall, all the while looking like someone spilled red paint on their face.
The soundtrack is pretty good. In particular, I liked seeing Snoop Dogg on there. The songs got repetitive after a while, as did the announcers during the boxing matches repeating lines like "WHOA, THESE FIGHTERS REALLY DON'T LIKE EACH OTHER!" five times a round.
There's no story. The Legacy Mode, where you "build your own boxer", doesn't count, because there's no plot or voice acting or ending (outside of you snapping the disc in disgust)
First of all, the Legacy mode needs a LOT of work. And I mean a LOT. As it is now, you pick from a list of boxers you've never heard of before who you want to fight next, watch the game "simulate" fights for half a minute, play an insipid training minigame (or just simulate the training, like I did) and fight the fight.
There are a lot of petty gripes I have with the game, like the lackluster tutorial, the long load times, and the shameless product placement, but at the end of the day, the problem is that Fight Night: Round 4's FIGHTS, which should be the best part of the game, just aren't that good.
The worst problem with them are that this new "Total Punch Control System" is shockingly imprecise and as it controls all your punches, it probably gives this game the worst controls I've ever seen in a non-fight-night fighting game. (Round 3 was even worse, but that's another review.) Basically it has you moving the right stick in a pattern similar to the path your hand follows as the punch is executed. This system would be fine if it worked, but I tried, not once, not twice, sometimes not even three times, but more, to do a hook, and all I could do was sit there and get frustrated as my guy was like "DERP JAB JAB STRAIGHT". I tried and I tried, but I could not, and this is coming from someone who is proficient enough at most one-on-one fighting games to beat the computer on the hardest level, reliably do anything but throw jabs and straights. And jabs and straights do approximately nothing in this game.
So when I started Legacy mode, where you make your own boxer and make them go from amateur to Greatest Of All Time, I lost. I lost a lot. It seems that the game didn't think me giving myself a blister trying to do an uppercut was challenging enough, and so it also made me way slower and weaker than I was fighting with boxers in versus mode, because I had to train and build my character up. I lost three times in a row by judges' decision, because they didn't like the way my boxer only did jabs and straights I guess, so desperately I looked for a difficulty adjuster. Nope- but there WAS a bunch of sliders that said stuff like "Boxer Speed" and "Boxer Power". So I turned everything up to maximum and I fought another guy. It was then that I was victorious for the first time.
It was also then that I realized even if I really did have total punch control and I could do uppercuts and haymakers and hooks and all that cool stuff, I still wouldn't really enjoy the game. Why? I don't know. There's just something off about it. Most arcade fighting style games like this are fun because of over-the-top moves and lighting-fast punches, neither of which this had. But that wasn't the problem, because I loved UFC Undisputed 2010, too, and that has a style at least as realistic as Fight Night's. I guess it's just that UFC has a great ground-fighting system to fall back on, and it didn't hurt that I could actually do the moves. Fight Night just isn't fast enough, exciting enough, or visually impressive enough to be fun for me. I can't really put it in words exactly why it isn't, but... it's not satisfying. That's it. Punching a guy in the face is not nearly as impactful or satisfying as it needs to be.
I hear the multiplayer is great, but I didn't try it. I also heard that the gameplay was great, from the same source, so I'm a bit hesitant to trust them now. I don't think you're going to enjoy the multiplayer if you don't enjoy the main game, which I didn't.
Final Score: 4/10
Once again, I hated Fight Night Round 3 when it came out, so I was never a Fight Night fan, and again, if you like Round 3, they're pretty similar, and I think you'll love this one. Basically- if you're a Fight Night fan, get this. If you're not, don't. If you still think it looks cool, like I did, at least rent it first. A rent is the most this game deserves.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 08/29/11
Game Release: Fight Night Round 4 (US, 06/23/09)
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