Fight Night Round 4 Review
Fight Night Round 4 is the latest boxing game from EA Sports that endeavours to excite the boxing enthusiasts and those looking for a adrenaline fueled punch up. Fight Night Round 3 was an early 2006 title with memorable striking realism. Visually Round 4 does not disappoint and raises the bar once again. The animation is extremely accurate and synced perfectly with the controller creating a smooth transition between movements. Reactions to stamina loss include sweating, loss of breath and legitimate loss of strength to create a drastic authenticity. Response to damage, including bruising, bleeding and swelling, adding to the realism of the sport in the game, especially when close-up camera angles are used to full effect.
The sound from the ring is also excellent, with the crowd and commentary combine to create an fantastic arena atmosphere. The commentary is particularly effective as comments range from hints and tips for the current fight and background knowledge from the fighters.
The create-a-boxer feature includes two options to place the users head on a new character – using the Xbox live vision camera or importing a photo from the EA sports world website. The vision camera takes an image of the face and requires nodes to be placed at the key features, accompanied by a guideline model. An optional side photograph can be taken to increase detail. The outcome is a complete in-game head, even though it may lack any noticeable resemblance. Uploaded photos offer no noticeable advantage in comparison, despite the prospect of using higher resolution images. Creating a new boxer offers a plethora of options ranging from boxer introduction music to the style of mouth guard. A custom entrance theme can be assigned through ripping a CD to the hard drive and adding a music play list to a boxer on the game menu. These options allow for any combination of boxer as attributes can be applied for any style of play. The created player can also be uploaded so that others may download them. This has lead to many infamous boxers, such as Rocky, to become playable.
Legacy mode, the career mode, contains a mix of current and legendary boxers, all of which are playable, or a created boxer can be imported. The objective is to achieve the highest legacy accolade ‘Greatest Of All Time’. Fights are arranged on a custom calender, where the dates can be set, and training sessions are allocated before hand. This allows for freedom in where, when and who you fight.
The control system is unique to Round 4 and uses the right thumb stick to throw punches, the left and right sides are allocated to the respective hands. Body shots are associated with stamina, too many will make the boxer weak, and head blows result in the depletion of the health bar. Attachment of blocking movements to the right stick, with the right trigger, allows for a faster response for counter punches. Counter shots are particularly emphasized in game play with much higher damage infliction and the opportunity to set the opponent into a stun state. A counter punch can be achieved three different ways – setting up a block directly before a punch comes toward the targeted area, leaning, and weaving to dodge a shot. A small camera zoom indicates that the opposing boxer is frozen, for a split second at least, enough time to strike and cause a considerable increase in damage with normal contact. This takes away dependency and overuse of the haymaker, even though it remains in the game, and adds a easy to understand, hard to master method of ensuring the opponent hits the canvas. Draining the health bar or planting a counter will make opposing boxer liable to a knockdown. Landing as many punches as possible when the bar turns red, or through sheer luck, will send them plummeting to the ground. If a controlled boxer is in the unfortunate position of becoming knocked down a balancing act will come into force using the left stick to get upright and the right stick to stand up. This gets increasingly harder to perform as the boxer continually hits the floor.
Fights become progressively longer through Legacy Mode, and between each round is an interval for the cutmen to clean up their boxers. Performance in the ring in the previous round allocates points to spend on health, stamina and damage recovery. Get more shots on target, stun or knockdown the opponent to gain points to spend, or allow for automatic recovery, so the fight can proceed.
Online modes include a world championship mode, and the usual quick and custom matches. The world championship mode offers an online ranking for created boxers in the lightweight, middleweight and heavyweight classes. Once a boxer is inserted into the most appropriate class the stats are levelled for online play and a leader board displays the most successful players and belt holders. Only one player can hold the title belt at any time and so the aim is simple – hold and retain the belt. The offline and online career modes offer an extended game lifespan, adding more competition and maintaining interest.
There is little to fault with Fight Night Round 4, it leaves no gaps in features as each aspect is broadened with the wide use of customisable options, its controls are impressively intuative and it looks simply stunning. As a boxing game, it can’t get much better than this.