Fight Night Round 2
EA Games surprised us and a lot of other people last year with their very innovative boxing game Fight Night 2004. For the first time, gameplay wasn’t just button-bashing but it actually was important how you were hitting your controller. With this successor the makers hope to perfect the formula even further. We took the gloves and danced into the ring.
Of course we don’t need to teach EA how to update and renew a formula. They didn’t make the flaw of getting rid of the strong points. The control schema remains very good and realistic: by tapping, making half or quarter circles with the right stick you let your boxer perform jabs, an uppercut or hooks. The same natural feel you get by the way you can avoid hits, block and take your opponent; only a few of the many things that have been worked out better than in the original.
Really great are the haymakers; powerful hits that get your opponent off balance or make him fall onto the canvas. These require a longer movement with the stick and therefore also more time that you’ll be vulnerable. Also your energy bar will get hit so you’ll really need to time well and decide when to use them.
Thanks to this system you really feel like having to work strategically. It didn’t take long before I really was looking well at my opponent’s momvements which is necessary to see which hits they are planning and opt for a body- or headshot yourself, to place some jabs and create an opening in the defense with the correct right/left combination. It sounds complicated but after some fights it becomes a second nature and you’ll be doing very satisfactory combinations yourself. This is what makes Fight Night Round 2 so addictive qua gameplay: good defending, attacking at the right time, and making the correct choice of hits that make you win. Just bashing your controller only gets you closer to K.O.
Important is that during the easy first games you should already try to do things as the should be done, with blocks and parries. Once you become a pro it will be a lot more difficult to get your opponent down which can lead to some frustration if you don’t pay enough attention to your defense. Don’t get discouraged too easily!
Each hit you make is beautifully shown. Drops of sweat splatter away, muscles are getting tighter and you can almost hear the cracking of the bones thanks to the deformed faces and painful expressions on them. To put it in technical terms: both textures and animations are top.
Also very cool are the scenes that start when you’re reduced your opponent’s health to zero. The camera very atmospherically zooms in, the sounds will go numb and you’re sucked into the moment. At that moment you give the final beating to your opponent and knock him down. If you do that, you’ll receive a great replay in which every detail is shown very filmic and dramatically. Fantastic and especially o so satisfying after a tremendous fight to see a heavyweight’s face deform with an uppercut and then seeing him slowly fall down to not rise up again. Unfortunately, the ring and everything around (like the audience) aren’t done as well as the models themselves, but you won’t pay attention at that for long.
The sound effects can be evaluated in a similar way. Everything that you hear in the ring is very well done. What I especially noted was that also the audience tends to react realistically on the progress of a fight. This all makes that you feel like you’re doing a real fight! Contradictory to other games I didn’t like the soundtrack (EA Trax) so much. Although I can appreciate the hip hop genre, most of the tracks disappoint, there’s too little variation, and the whole of the songs doesn’t really seem to fit well with the game. Some more “Eye of the Tiger” would have been welcome.
I’ll briefly let you know the game modes. By far the most fun is the career mode where you have to let either a home-made boxer or a famous one, work himself from amateur to world champion. This character can be created through the create-a-champ system which is very extensive. That there are enough visual options to completely recreate yourself is something we’ve gotten used to with EA Sports but you can also add points to speed, power, precision, … Of course, later on you can upgrade and train these stats.
In the story mode you earn money by winning fights with which you can get yourself new gloves, pants and shirts aswell as a lot other stuff including better trainers and ring pussies. Of course you get overloaded with unlockables and lot of gadgets with which you can customise your character for ours.
Next to this main mode there are training possibilities (boxing bag, a dummy and weight lifting) that are just plain minigames and allow your boxer to become stronger aswell as increase your skills. This couldn’t really interest me for longer than 5 minutes but it’s necessary to increase your stats. Only the fact that your fighter will look more fierceful is a plus. The lack of a sparring partner to do some free practice on the other hand is a big downpoint. Luckily there’s the quickfight option to play a short game or fight against friends. Also I need to add that the Cube version includes the SNES game “Super Punch-Out” for free (to compensate for the lacking of online play for Xbox and PS2)
Fight Night Round 2 is without a doubt a very fun sports game. It improves on its predecessor on all aspects and especially the control system is very satisfying and realistic. Thanks to the great models, good replays and passing comments, this game will give you hours of gaming fun. If you’re looking for a boxing game then look no further. This title has more atmosphere, delivers more realism, and hits harder than any other game in the genre!