Review by amlabella

"One of the best sports games to date."

The first Fight Night that was released in 2004 was a great boxing game. It had many good things going for it, including great and unique controls. Now Fight Night Round 2 has come, and it is the best boxing game ever. It brings back many of the great things from Fight Night such as the controls. It has also revamped things from Fight Night, and has hugely improved upon some aspects. Fight Night Round 2 has so many great things, and is definitely going to end up being one of the best sports titles this year. Boxing games haven't been at the top of sports game, but Fight Night Round 2 shows that a boxing game can turn out to be an excellent sports game.

Even though Fight Night Round 2 brings some things from the previous game, there are some new and improved things. Easily the best part of the game is the career mode. It is also the main part of the game. You'll be spending almost all of your time playing the career mode unless you're playing online. Now you can start off the career mode one of two ways. Those are by either picking from a selection of real boxers. You will recognize such names as Evander Holyfield, Roy Jones Jr., and legends such as Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali. But even if you pick a real boxer, they will start off with low attributes. It is your job to build them back up to what they once were. Now your other option is to create your own boxer. The character creation mode competes with Tiger Wood's PGA Tour as the best in any game. You can decide their info, such as their name, hometown, etc., their physique, build, head shape, head features, accessories, and finally you will distribute the little attributes you are given to start off your career.

At the start of your career you will start off as an amateur boxer. So you will be participating in simple 4 round fights. The purses (money) that you win n the amateur fights are small, as they are all worth $300 with the exclusion of the amateur title fight. If you end up getting to the amateur title fight, and win, that will be the end of your amateur career. You will end up going pro. You can skip the amateur league at any time and go to the pros, but the amateur league is a nice way to get used to Fight Night Round 2. So it would be a wise decision to participate in the league.

Once you turn pro, the career mode flourishes. The options of hiring trainers, cut men, and improving you ring entrance are available once you turn pro. With the money you earn you can buy new gear and hire people. If you buy new gear, such as trunks, gloves, mouthpieces, etc., certain ones you buy may improve your skills a little. But the most effective way of improving your skills are by training. You will be given a basic trainer who will be free, but you can hire new ones who can increase your attributes with greater success. Before each fight you will be able to train. You can participate in mini games to improve you skills in certain areas, or you can simulate the training and see the results. But doing it manually is generally more effective. The mini games consist of using combinations on a dummy, using a punching bag, and lifting weights. Skills you can improve upon are things such as strength, speed, agility, your ability to take body shots, and other things. Also, as I said you can improve you ring entrance. You can do this by buying special effects, picking a certain song to play, and having a ring girl. This all costs money, but the end result is your energy increasing because your fighter gets pumped up.

In Fight Night Round 2 there is a new cutman feature. This means you can manually treat your boxer's injuries in between rounds. You will have a short period of time to treat swelling and cuts on your boxer. You will have to stroke the right analog stick to heal your boxer effectively. Doing this will decrease the chance of your boxer getting KO'd. You can skip the cutman feature, but it is very useful if you do it yourself.

Of course the most important part of the game is the feel and controls. That is what makes a boxing game. The controls in Fight Night Round 2 come back from the first game. You will be using the right analog stick to throw punches. This is very effective, and makes the game more simple. But you will not be able to win fights in Fight Night Round 2 unless you use defense. You can block and parry shots by holding R and using the right analog stick. You can also lean by holding L and using the left analog stick. This is important, because fights will be very difficult if you do not use blocking and leaning to your advantage. It also helps deliver a great realistic feel. There is new feature integrated into the controls. This is the haymaker system. If you pull the right analog stick back and a certain motion, you will be able to land a devastating blow to your opponent. The haymaker punches are more effective, as they will cause more damage to your opponent. But if you use it too much you will get tired out fast, so it shouldn't be used too much.

The graphics in the game are amazing. The best part about the visuals are the actual boxers and their movements. The boxer's animations are very fluid, and the detail in them is outstanding. During a fight you will see a cut open up, or here will be noticeable swelling around their eyes. That part of the graphics stand out when you are the cutman, because there is a close up view of their face. The different punches, blocks, movements of the boxers all you looks very real. The environments and crowds aren't great. They're good, but not great. Some of the places you will be fighting at are bland, and the crowd looks a little boring after they do the same thing over and over. And the crowd isn't 3D. But the amazing character detail and animations make up fro the minor flaws in the crowds and environments.

The sound is probably the weakest aspect of the game. But the sound is great. That shows the greatness of this game. First off, the soundtrack is all hip-hop/rap. If you're not a fan of this music genre, you might not like the music, but if you're at least a little into rap, you will enjoy the soundtrack in the game. I though the music was very good, and was appropriate with the overall feel of the game. The best part about the sound is that Big Tigger, the announcer in the first Fight Night that did a bad job, has been replaced by real life boxing announcer Joe Tessitore. Joe does a good job of announcing the fights, but some of his lines may get repetitive. But Joe helps put realism into the game like some other parts, even though the game has a hip-hop feel to it. The sound effects are very good. You will hear the sound of your glove smacking your opponent's face, or the groan of a boxer as he gets hit hard and go to the floor for a KO. Overall, the sound is great.

The big thing about Fight Night on the XBOX is XBOX Live. You will be able to take a created fighter that you brought up to greatness, and have them compete against other fighters across the world. The option of XBOX Live in Fight Night Round 2 is great, and will keep you playing the game long after you finish the career mode.

In the end, Fight Night Round 2 is an excellent game. It is one of the best sports games made to date. The deep and engaging career mode will keep you playing for a while, and if you have XBOX Live, that will bring lots of replay value to the game for you. The graphics are amazing, and the sound has been greatly improved with the replacement of Big Tigger for Joe Tessitore. There are so many great things about the game. If you own an XBOX, or a PS2 or Gamecube, as it is available for those systems too, you should pick this up. The only really good reason to not pick Fight Night Round 2 up is if you don't like sports games. It is easily the best sports game this year so far. And even if you're not a big fan of boxing, you will still enjoy this game.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 03/14/05

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