Fight Night 2004
It doesn’t always have to be Tekken or Soul Calibur. A joyful game of boxing can’t do any harm, can it?
Face it, we became spoiled after playing games like Soul Calibur. Those fighters where you had to attack your opponent with great weapons. True, you had to show some intelligence, yet any newbie could easily crush a trained master with some irritating moves. Tekken 4 couldn’t charm me either. The game just wasn’t new enough. It looked more like a repeating version of Tekken 3 with flashy graphics. I’d rather choose Virtua Fighter 4: a game which really made you think before you acted. To be honest, you could best compare Fight Night with this game.
It’s not about the incredible and deadly moves, or the 20-times combo’s. This is a tactical tournament where you should wait for your opponent to strike. After you do that, you could avoid the punches to make a quick counterattack. But be quick, because the opponent can counter you just as easily. It sounds more boring than hitting a giant with a huge axe, but it offers you much more satisfaction. Imagine two beaten up players who will go down after one hit. Your hands are shaking and you know that every hit could be fatal. That’s when your opponent nearly hits you on the face, and when you get the opportunity to counterattack. You hit him well, and he falls down on the floor. He tries to get up, yet he hasn’t got the power. You know that the bell rings in 10 seconds, and you can call yourself the champ. That’s the spirit of Fight Night 2004.
Before you actually start winning matches, you will have to practice a lot in the career mode. First, you have to create your character. You can change weight and length, as well as the colour of his eyes. It’s really amazing what you can do with your own boxer to create his own identity. By training against a sparring partner you can increase strength, stamina or speed. You start fighting in filthy basements but as you get better you get to see the real shit. If you’re really good, you just might fight in the arena in Las Vegas.
The atmosphere is really great, as expected from an EA title. The images are bombastic, and the announcing of the boxers are full of expectation. EA does it again: another game which proves to be a party for every sense. The music is well chosen, yet you have to be a fan. I’d rather throw these R&B and Hip Hop artist back to the Stone Age (I mean: P Diddy for God’s sake…). If you like this music, it will be a feast of course.
The control of the fighters is also different than other games in this genre. You control your boxer with the R3 button. Every direction is another punch, and this offers you enough variation. A half turn leads you to an uppercut in the face of your opponent. You can combine these punches to discover some combo’s, but don’t get carried away, because your opponent can just as easily counterattack. This sounds hard, but after some matches, you don’t want anything else.
I didn’t expect it, but Fight Night 2004 has become a real jewel. EA proves they can also make intelligent Fighters. And above that, everything is mixed with this special EA flavour when it comes to atmosphere. The graphics and music just fit together, and it’s always nice to see your opponent looking like a big loser. Conclusion: go play this game and be as surprised as I was. A new world will open for you: a world where fighting isn’t just aggression. There will be aggression of course, but think of it as a game of chess with gloves and shorts