Boxing, a sport that involves two men entering a ring and punching each other till the one falls down for ten seconds. This is what many see as the world-wide sport, but there is so much more to it than this. And Fight Night Round 4 takes players deep into the expansive world of professional boxing and shows that to get to the wonderful glory of being the best, you have to beat the rest. And to beat the rest, you have to train like your life depends on it, which in a way, it does. Round 4 shows what the previous three never did; it shows the world of boxing beyond the glitz and glamour. Is this the game boxing fans have always been waiting for? Read on to find out...
Fight Night Round 3 held the title of best boxing game for a few years and even when other boxing games were released like Don King Presents: Prize Fighter, it still held strong and beat the competition in every way, from the Gameplay to the Character creation process. Round 4 takes all aspects that made Round 3 strong and improves on all of them greatly. The series revolutionary controller scheme which sees the right joystick controlling every punch has stayed the same, but this time around, is a little more sensitive and the punch directions are much better. If you want to throw a right hook, simply swing the joystick to the right, and vice versa for a left hook. It’s the little indiscretions like the total control over your boxer’s hands and arms that really do make this game the best of the best in the boxing world.
Sport games in general make for very fun party starters where friends can gather around and have loads of enjoyment playing with each other, and boxing games are no exception, especially this one. With such a massive roster which includes all the known heavy weights from Mike Tyson to the great Ali, and even Aussie legend, Anthony Mundine, you are sure to never get sick of throwing down with mates with your favourite boxing legends. The game features over 40 real fighters, all sculpted to perfection in accordance with their real counter parts using the same tools that you yourself can use to create your own unique boxer, who can use in the games career mode and take from unknown amateur to the Greatest Of All Time, or G.O.A.T. This is also a difficulty level in Round 4, and when playing on G.O.A.T., you can be sure you won’t be in for an easy win. One thing that was known about Round 3 was that its difficulty level was very low and could be beaten in a matter of hours, that's where the many difficulties of Round 4 come in, which can be changed according to your skill to ensure you get the most enjoyment from your gaming experience.
The games campaign mode is the real meat of the gameplay. Everyone loves to make their own character in a game, and with the very dynamic system used in Fight Night Round 4, you can be sure to make a very unique boxer who you can control through out his entire career. This includes the training, picking your opponents, organizing your schedule accordingly, and most importantly, the actual fights, which will become increasingly difficult as you progress and train your boxer. However, despite the flawless campaign mode, the training of your boxer can become frustratingly hard to accomplish sufficiently. You must always balance out your boxers skills according to the different training methods, but doing these training mini-games can get so hard that your boxer will barely ever go up enough skill points to satisfy your desire for strength, which can result in some fights being harder than they should be.
In Fight Night Round 3, when you came within a certain proximity of your opponent, you hit a sort of invisible barrier which stopped you form getting any closer, which meant you could simply stand in front of your opponent and swing like a mad man, but in Round 4, this barrier is non-existent and players can get as close as they want to their opponent. But this doesn't necessarily mean it’s a better strategy. If you're right next to your enemy and you’re both trying to swing away, you can see your arms getting interlocked and a precise uppercut can go right through your opponents block and hit square on the chin, which is a rather tasteful sight. The game manages to do this very well and it adds to the realism factor which is what EA was trying to achieve by making this more of a boxing simulation than a sport game. It’s this realism that makes Round 4 different and great, as it truly gives players a taste of the boxing life style without the cuts and bruises.
To top off the sim factor, players are given the choice to upload a photo of themselves to EA Sports World Website and import it into their game via Xbox LIVE. This allows the games character creation tools to sculpt a character out of the photo giving him a very life like image of yourself, much more so than the consoles own Vision Camera. This is a very interesting feature which proves worthy to any who like to imagine themselves as a professional boxer or simply want to see themselves squaring off against their favourite fighter.
A sport games need multiplayer. It is the back bone of the sporting genre, and Round 4 stands tall in this aspect. The online play is great and the leader boards are very competitive without putting too much stress on players to win their matches or cease to play like some games manage to do. Perhaps the best part of the online gameplay is that because there are only two fighters and limited processing power is needed for the background, there is almost always not a drop of lag in sight, which makes the fights fare and even, especially with the games match making system which pits you against the most similar opponents in terms of experience and statistics. This means anyone can play online without worrying about being beating to a bloody pulp by a high ranking super boxer, unless of course they are one.
The graphics of Fight Night Round 4 are absolutely brilliant. When Round 3 was released back at the start of the 360's life span, it had the most realistic and advance graphics of any game at the time, and Round 4 improves on them to become the best of today. There's never been a game that looks this good as two people go head-to-head in a ring. The harder your character fights, the more he will sweat and the more exhausted he will not only appear, but fight. Punches will result in a realistic amount of blood and sweat being thrown from the characters beaten bodies and every knock will have a visible after affect. In Round 4, the characters damage models and excellent. Keep getting hit on a cheek, and it will continue to swell up greatly, which will make it take much more damage from all successive hits to it. Same rules go for every other part of your fighters face; your eye, your chin and even your nose, which will be horribly disfigures after just a few good hits to it. Never has a game had such a great damage models for individual characters.
The in-fight commentary in Fight Night Round 4 is very good, and improves on Round 3. With hundreds of lines of dialogue and different speech for every hit, knock-out, player etc., each and every fight sounds like its being commentated for real as the two commentators comment al the current happenings of the fight at hand with precise timing and accuracy. This too adds to the simulation factor of the game and boxing buffs will love the few factual comments the narrators have to say about some of the more famous boxers. While you are fighting, there is no music playing, but in the menu, you get to listen to the games large supply of today’s best hip-hop music. And if hip-hop isn't your things, the game allows for custom soundtracks to be played by changing the settings in the sound menu located either in the games campaign or main menu. This is good as some people find it relaxing to listen to their own taste in music while managing their boxers’ upcoming fights and training sessions. Not only can you play your own soundtracks while cruising the menus, but you can choose to have it played as your fighters personalized theme as he makes his way to the ring, which can somewhat psych you up for the fight ahead depending on your choice of music.
Any good sport game is worth its weight in value as they provide countless hours of enjoyment for you and your friends to compete as your favourite stars and Fight Night Round 4 is certainly no exception here. It is one of the most fun sport simulations on the market, and any boxing fan will extract his or her time out of it to no end. With loads of game play options, characters to choose from and the ability to create your own super star, not to mention a fun and full online multiplayer experience, Fight Night Round 4 gives you exactly what you pay for; loads of enjoyment and excitement for players of any skill.
Fight Night Round 4 will instantly win over the hearts of boxing and fighting fans alike, but it should be noticed by more than just its immediate fan base, as this is a great game that all gamers should be aware of. It is one of the best sport games on the market, the best boxing game by far, and even contends with gaming’s' other heavy weight fighting titles despite their major differences. The graphics also brilliant, and once you manage to get as much as possible from the games tedious training exercises, the legacy mode will have you playing for hours trying to get that one belt that's just out of reach and no matter how many 'one more match' moments you go through, you will never want to put down the controller. This game really isn't meant just for boxing fans, It’s meant for fans of fun. Put simply: This game is incredible.
AAG Score: 9/10
1. Huge Roster
2. Great character creation
3. Great commentary
4. Addictive online play
1. Training mini-games are frustrating
Reviewed & Written by John Elliott