Review by JormungandrLoki

"Fight Night Round 2 is the benchmark of the franchise"

Previously, I reviewed Fight Night Round 3. As the PS2 is winding down, many game stores are clearing their stocks. So, I picked up Figiht Night Round 2 on sale.

Graphics 10/10: Before I begin, let me pick my jaw off the floor and put my eyes back in my head. The graphics are gorgeous, eyepopping, beautiful, stunning, pick an adjective. The fighters are realistic. You see their muscle tone .The camera flashes reflect off of them perfectly (Yes, flashes, not just distant flashes) When they are injured, you can actually see it. Unlike Round 3 where a supposedly closed eye look just red, here you see a small welt or in case of sever injury one the size of an orange. The injuries are visible during the fight and during KOs. When you punch them you see see both blood and sweat. The venues are incredible. This is how the Staples Center should look for a boxing match with the big screen TVs, the fireworks, and lights, not like you snuck in at 2 AM after a Lakers game in Round 3. The ringposts look as if you could reach in and touch them. Unlike Round 3, you have a lot of activity in the background, be it rides at the farigrounds with their neon lights or lanterns across the audience with stars in the sky or running lights in the celing, the effects are just beautiful. When you're in cutman mode, you see all this in motion in the background. Also, you're cutman and trainer are in motion as are you. I have to ask what happened with Round 3, which seems to be a stepped down from this game. The arenas look just bare in R3. The audience look like cardboard cutouts. Round 2 just look downright astounding.

Sound 10/10: The sound is great. You hear the grunts from the punches. Also, when you enter the arena, you have your entrance music playing. You hear the crowd cheers. The commentary can be a bit slow. However, the game does acknowledge you as champion when you defend your title.

Gameplay 9/10: You start as an amateur. In between your bouts, you learn in sparring how to use total punch control to perform various effects. Unlike Round 3, you can skip this area and go straight to pro. However, part of the fight store is locked unless you win the amateur title.

Round 2 uses a ranking system. You start at the bottom and can challenge the next top 5 fighters. However, if you're #35 and fight #30, don't expect to take his place as other fights take place and their results are reflected in the rankings. Don't expect to be like MIke Tyson and become heavyweight champion by 22 years old. Your fights can be severals months apart or, when your champion, a year apart.

Before you fight, you have to train. Apparently, Round 3 was going for the Rocky look with the downtown gym as the gym in Round 2 looks off the set for the "Six-Million Dollar Man." Your punching bag, combo dummy(which is more easier to see the first marker with a bright light then the sometimes barely noticeable tape in R3) and weightlifting equipment is electric and lite-up as your trainer watches from the computer room. If you choose not to do the mini-games, you can do quick training., Unlike auto-training in R3, it's possible for your boxer to become injuried using this option. Also, when you finsh your training, the results are more visible, such as more defined pectorals or abs, unlike R3 where I couldn't see any difference from before and after pics.

Before training, you get to pick your trainer, cutman, entrance song, entrance effects and ring girl. All of these have an effect on you by either making your training easier, giving you more stamina or allowing you to survive 3 KOs.

The controls are a bit easier in Round 2 than Round 3. I could punch and hook as I could in R3, but I could also parry and do haymakers far more easily using the nalot sticks than I could in R3. IN fact, the haymaker is too easily done as at time you end up in a slugmatch with your opponent trading them. I did encounter a problem if you choose Configuration 3 or 4 if you decide to use the buttons. If you decide to use the analog sticks in these configuration, your boxer will taunt in the middle of a combination. I don't know what motions produced it, but it leaves you totally open for counters. So, you have to pick one or the other.

While it might be easier to get your opponent's energy down quickly, knockiing them down is another story. In Round 3, when you enter the KO moment, your opponent stayed almost stationary blocking and parrying and you could unload with your signature punch. In Round 2, your opponents suddenly develop speed and you have to chase them around the ring htting them with either several jabs or a haymaker. Some opponents proved so elusive, it was as if I was being pushed back by a wave. It wasn't unusually for me to get 2 KO moments before I got a KO and your opponent is more likely to clinch. It's more difficult to 3 knockdown TKO, but I've won by TKO due to injury and eventually one by 3 KOs in a round, but they were the last 3 of 7. Also, the entrance effects make it necessary to get more than 3 KOs to win usually. I've won fights with 2 KOs due to cumulative injuries in R3, but in R2, I'd have to KO my opponent as many as 6 times before I won. I think that's ridiculous. However, when you do get a KO, you get a view of either you dancing a jig or an upview of your looking down at your opponent ands waving to the crowd and your opponent. After several KOs, your opponent will be hesistant to to fight you head-on for a while after getting up.

If you get a TKO by injury, you'll see the referee (yes a referee, where is he in R3?) separate you. Also, when you win a title, you're shown with your title belt unlike R3 where you just jump around the ring. Afterwards, you're acknowledged as champion in your entrance introductions.

For injuries, you have a cutman. I had trouble using him here. Unlike Round 3 where you could heal eye injuries and cuts by moving the right analog stick from right to left, here you deal with injuries to your eye and cheek separately. The injury screen is separate into quarters and to heal, you must the analog stick in that quarter section. Instead of going between left and right, you have to go between top and right or right and right and bottom of the analog sitck. I couldn't really get the hang of it. Where I could completely heal in Round3, I was lucky to get one eye healed half way. Fortunately, you can auto-heal.

Overall 9/10: Fight Night Round 2 is an excellent boxing game. It's visually beautiful and stunning. The controls do leave something to be fix in future editions as the haymakers are too easy here and too difficult in Round 3 to do. Hopefully, this will be fixed in Round 4. Until then, you want a boxing game and are stuck between Round 2 and Round 3, go for Round 2 as a keeper.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 09/25/08

Game Release: Fight Night Round 2 (US, 02/28/05)

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