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Platform

Xbox 360

 

Genre

Sports

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

EA Sports

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

June 25, 2009

 

 

- Very realistic simulation approach to boxing

- Including slipping and punching through guards

 

 

- Some odd hit detection at times

- Seems to forget what direction people were downed in

 

 

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Fight Night Round 4

Score: 9.0 / 10

 

The Fight Night franchise has always managed to somehow up the ante every year. More so that the NHL and Madden franchises do in each iteration. Round 3 brought some amazing graphics to the franchise, and Round 4 pushes that accomplishment even further. Not only does the game look and sound impressive, tweaks to the fighting styles and the nuances of boxing have been included. And if that wasn’t enough, we have the inclusion of Iron Mike Tyson as a playable boxer (pre-guano-crazy era).

 

fight night round 4          fight night round 4

 

Previous iterations of Fight Night have tended to polarize the playing styles – those who throw punches as if their hands were made of fire, and those who sit back and

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wait for the almighty counter punch. To better adapt the boxer to the player’s style, the different boxing styles have been given greater significance in creating a new boxer. Not only do you get additional points in your focus, but you inflict greater damage and accumulate greater style points in judging. A stand-up boxer will garner more points effectively blocking and hitting than trying to slip punches

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and nail that counter-punch. Conversely, counter-punchers are meant to pick and ebb away at an opponent’s stamina and let those decisive strikes weaken an opponent or collect points until the decision. If you choose to try and slug it out, you will pay in blood for fighting out of style.

 

In addition to the benefits and punishment for fighting stylistically, we now have a more grounded approach to defences and their holes. While the “clam” shell defence provides the most coverage, it takes the longest to set… so if you don’t have a good hand-speed you get nailed by some fast jabs and straights while your guard is rising. If the guard is already up, you can slip pin-point punches into the gaps of the guard. While covering your ear, a hook can be sent into the gap between the bicep and the forearm thus nailing the jaw. Nice realism!

 

The career mode will quickly become the staple of the single player. Building your boxer stylistically, then guiding his physical development through training and work-out regimens will provide multiple hours of gameplay at least. The training games are mostly new from the last games – sparring returns, but the strength and agility games will frustrate most until they get the necessary rhythm for good returns. Myself, having enough of mini-games and tedious repetition, I survive with automating the training and living with half of the result that I would have got if I did it myself.

 

fight night round 4          fight night round 4

 

Fight Night Round 4 is quite gorgeous in high-definition. The boxer’s faces not only appear eerily similar to their famous avatars, they deform quite realistically from repeated damage to the same area. As matches progress, the layer of sweat on the boxers build up and fly off as hits are exchanged. Blood and spittle fly as punches connect, making it all a venture of love for the designers at EA Sports. If there was a detriment to all this, is that with the high detail, flaws are more glaring and jarring when they occur. Quite frequently will an opponent real from a strike that hasn’t actually connected – but the hit detections says so. A headslip that look effective will suddenly fly back from a wide punch. It certainly doesn’t help when the mistake is replayed in slow motion playback from a down. If that weren’t enough, the rag-doll physics of a downed boxer still treats people as if they were unconscious and fall down in sections (legs down, begin lowering torso, then head and arms). I have never seen a boxer lay on the ropes and the tension of them is high enough to keep him off the ground… yeeaaaah, no. If that weren’t bad enough, it’s quite common for the downed boxer to be spontaneously reoriented after the instant replay so that the animation of the boxer trying to make the count is appropriate. Let’s try to fix that for the next game ok?

 

The sound effects are as authentic as listening to an HBO Pay-Per-View – the gloves, slaps, and commentary are all first rate. Although with extended playing in the career mode, it’s quite easy to get the commentators to repeat themselves especially if you’ve built a boxer with a common deficiency. Sound track is hip-hop infused and has some fun tracks while you’re navigating the game menus.

 

All in all, Fight Night Round 4 is an excellent game, that will appeal to the boxing fans amongst us. Not perfect yet, but getting pretty darn close with each version.

 

- Tazman

(September 8, 2009)

 

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