Review by FatJoJo04

"Fight Night Round 2 proves to be a knockout."

For the second year in a row EA Sports has put out the only boxing game on the market with this year's version entitled Fight Night Round 2. The fact that there's no competition against the game in the boxing market hasn't deterred EA from making it a great game with new features galore.

New Features: 9/10
Last year EA dazzeled audiences with a new way of throwing punches involving the right analog stick. It proved to be a very innovative and fun way of playing the game, and this year EA has improved upon it very nicely. Now it is possible to throw a haymaker punch while using the right analog stick. Whenever you're throwing a hook or an uppercut, you start to throw the punch normally(press left/right on the right stick for a hook, press down and right/left on the right stick for an uppercut), but to throw the haymaker, you move the stick back in the opposite direction and then circle it up for the powerful punch. So if you wanted to throw a powerful right hook, you move the right analog stick to the right, then pull it down, and then move it back right and straight up. It might seem complicated, but it is very easy to use. It adds a new strategic element to the game. Another thing that EA has done to the right stick is that they have made putting together combos much easier. Now if you wanted to throw a combo, you can just move the stick left or right to keep throwing punches. So you could start with a jab(up to the left for a right hander) and then quickly move it to the right and then back from the left for an easy three hit combo. You'll be able to string together combos much easier this time around.

Another one of EA's big improvements this year is the new cutman feature. Now during your time in the corner, you can control the cutman. You can help reduce the swelling of your fighter as well as work on their cuts, and it's very simple. All you have to do is press one button to work on an area(swelling or cuts) and then move to an area on your face. There are four different areas to work on, both sides of the eye and both sides of the cheek. Then to work on those areas, you just move the right analog stick around and try to keep the cursor inside a moving target. It is very simple and the amount of damage you have taken is represented in a number value. The more you keep the cursor inside the specific area, the more it goes down. It's a great feature put in by EA.

Gameplay: 9/10
The gameplay this just as phenomenal as last year. In addition to the new cutman and improvements to the right analog stick punching usage, you are able to now move and block at the same time. This is great if you've gotten yourself into a bad situation and need to keep your distance from your opponent. Another thing that could help you in a bad situation is the new grab button put in this year. If you're about to go down from a knockout, then you can now grab your opponent and force him into a clutch. If you're successful, you get yourself out of the near knockout situation and some newly added stamina. If you're not, then you stay in that bad situation and lose energy. It's a subtle touch, but it's very nice. But if you do find yourself going down, then getting back up is much easier. Instead of having to match up the figure of the ref, now it's just two circles that you have to match up to the center. It is a whole lot easier and now you won't have to fret about trying to get that image of the ref together right. All in all, the gameplay of this year's version is put together almost flawlessly.

Controls: 8/10
For those that aren't skillful with the analog stick, there is an option to use the buttons instead of the stick. This way the game accommodates two different ways of playing the game, although there are several different configurations to choose from. Whichever version you decide to go with, you won't find much problems with it, if any. There are only a few problems that might arise. One thing is that when you play, you have to have quick fingers. If you want to dodge, then you'll have to hold the L1 button and move around with the left analog stick. If you want to block, you have to hold the R1 button and move the right analog stick to which ever area you are blocking. Then if you want to move you have to do that and move the left analog stick to move. It's not that big of a problem, but those who are not confident with the speed and agility of their fingers might come across a problem. The only other thing is that sometimes when punching with the right analog stick, your finger might slip off and come in contact with one of the face buttons, as that happened to me on a few occasions. I would throw a punch and then accidentally hit the square button, which would do a taunt. Definitely not something you want in that situation. But other than that, everything should be alright.

Graphics: 10/10
The graphics are really good this year. There is a lot of definition in the characters bodies and the faces all look very realistic. If you are really into graphics, then Fight Night Round 2 definitely will not disappoint you.

Sound: 9/10
Thank God they took out Big Tigger from this year's version. They actually have a real boxing commentator in there, and boy is it a relief from last year. While the commentary isn't perfect in any sense of the word, it does sound very good and isn't too repetitive. The soundtrack is also very good, at least for fans of rap. There aren't too many songs, however, but the ones they do have are pretty good.

Career Mode: 9/10
This year's career mode is a whole lot better than last years. You start off as an amateur and you can either work your way up there, or immediately become a pro. Once you are a pro, you have a lot more choices of who you want to fight, and you can now move up or down in weight class, which is a much needed option. There are also challenges put into career mode which can earn you a lot more money as well as new gear. The challenges are just a boxing match where the rules are that a round doesn't end until somebody gets knocked down. There is a bigger emphasis put on earning money this year, since you have to buy your cutman, entrance music, ring girl etc. before every match you have. Each thing you buy, though, gives you an added boost in your match, and the more you have to pay, then the more of a boost it gives you. In addition to this, they've changed the training this year. Now there are only three options of training, and you get to pick which one you do before the fight. Each drill gives you bonuses in certain areas, and after you're done with them, not only do you get a stat bonus, you also get to see the affects on your boxer's physical appearance. This is a very nice addition to the game. Another thing that is changed to this year's career mode is that you have the option to retire at any point in time in your career. While this might not seem like much, it's a good addition which makes Fight Night Round 2 a very well-rounded game.

Overall: 9/10
Despite having no competition from any other boxing game, EA still managed to put out a great boxing game, even better than their previous effort. If you're looking for a boxing game, then you really have no choice but pick up this game, but you definitely will not be disappointed with this. Even if you're not a big boxing fan, you should consider getting this game, or at least giving it a rental. It is one that you should not pass up.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 03/14/05

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