Fight Night Round 4
For most people, including me, boxing is nothing more than two sweaty guys bashing each other until one falls to the ground. The sport, however, is more than that and the men of EA are trying to teach you the tricks of the trade with Fight Night Round 4. Forget the button bashing as a decent defense is the best attack. Let’s get ready to Rrrummblee!
From the very first moment on you notice that Fight Night Round 4 is a very polished and well-finished game. The intro alone already, where two sweating men take on each other, pushes you to check out the edge of gayness. Ok, it doesn’t go so far but it does look swell. After a short tutorial where the controls are explained you can start the real work.
The most important part is the Legacy Mode. Here you follow with an existing boxer, or one you created, the long road to glory and G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of all Time) as result. Each time you need to book a match in an agenda where fixed fighting days are listed. If you plan enough in advance you get the possibility to train in between. These exist out of some minigames where you have to do some exercises: sparring with an opponent, pushing away punching bags or evade it with fast movements. The better you do your exercises the more you progress. If the minigames aren’t anything for you you can always simulate them but at only half of the maximum amount of expansion points you can get.
In the ring everything feels very realistic and organic. You control everything with both joysticks where the right one is used for the punches and the left for moving your boxer. You can surprise your opponent and make him dizzy for a short while, your arms can clutch by making the same move as him, you can miss completely and make yourself vulnerable for a counterattak and so on. If your opponent succeeds in timing his block or evasive move well time will slow down a bit in order to give him the opportunity to make a strong counterattack.
Next to the normal punches there are a couple of other types as well. The Haymakes are stronger but slower to perform and if you miss you make yourself vulnerable. Next to that you can also do an “illegal” move, a nice headpunch, that the ref won’t appreciate or a personal “signature move” that differs depending on boxer.
In between rounds you have some time to replenish you damage, health or condition by putting points. The amount you get for that depends on your achievements in the previous round. You can earn them by getting a high percentage of hits, evading nicely, hitting your opponent to the floor or getting back up your feet quickly if you hit the deck yourself. This system pushes you to fight with care and discourages brainless button bashing.
Graphically the game looks sublime where the physics are the cherry on the pie. Faces that reform when hit, blood and spit flying through the air, boxing gloves that realistically shape, trowsers of the fighters that wave hence and forth, the way opponents fall when knocked out, muscles that pull together and relax with every punch and even drops of sweat that follow the gravity trajectory. Unfortunately the makers made less effort with designing the audience as it looks inspirationless and empty.
Fight Night Round 4 has evolved positively compared to its predecessor. The controls feel very intuitive, the game seems less scripted, the AI made big improvements and the gameplay is very much ok. I doubt the game will appeal to more people than UFC 2009 Undisputed but this is of course also due to the small market of boxing fans. However, if you’re looking for a pure boxing title where realism and depth are central then this is your game.