1st July 2009 - With the release of Fight Night Round 4 gamers are introduced to the new standard in boxing games. For those wanting to know a bit more about the game, be sure to read the following Q&A with FNR4 producer Mike Mahar.
EA SPORTS(TM) Fight Night Round 3 was (and still is) one of the best sports games for next-generation consoles. What was the biggest challenge in trying to follow a game that was regarded so highly amongst fans?
I think you hit it on the head...our biggest challenge is following in the footsteps of a game that is/was so highly regarded amongst...not only fight fans...but by everyone who plays video games. Fight Night Round 3 looked and played amazing and if you were to pick it up and play it today you'd find that it holds up very well given how long ago it was released. That said, Fight Night Round 3 provided us with great motivation to raise the bar even higher in terms of visuals, game play, and our feature set for Fight Night Round 4...something which we believe we've achieved.
How does the process work when it comes to creating the roster of boxers in the game? How does EA choose which fighters will appear (specifically the Mike Tyson decision)?
Selecting the roster for Fight Night Round 4 is a lengthy process. Choosing to put Mike Tyson in the game was not. Mike Tyson was one of...if not the most...devastating punchers in heavy weight boxing history as well as being one of the best video game bosses in video game history....getting both in one boxer...plus the fact he hasn't been in a video game for over 10 years, makes choosing him a no brainer.
Regarding the rest of our roster...we make a list of the best past, present, and future fighters. We ensure we have fighters for our 8 weight divisions and try to sign fighters representing each international region our game is available in. After we come up with our list we compare it to what the fans are asking for and go about trying to sign the boxers. We liken the process of signing boxers into Fight Night Round 4 to making fights...sometimes fights the fans want to see don't get made for one reason or another...at the end of the day it's not always up to us who gets signed into the game but we try our best to deliver the highest quality and biggest roster we can.
How much input do the actual boxers have in the game and their fighters?
More than you'd think. We've been in contact and or shown the game to Sugar Ray, Sugar Shane, Mike Tyson, Sergio Mora, Tito Ortiz, George Foreman, Lennox Lewis, Winky Wright, and many more. We also have the benefit of having 1000's of fights to watch in our video library. Each fighter we're in contact with provides input on everything from their stance, style, and what gear they wear.
We also like to get input from boxers regarding their past opponents... Having the opportunity to speak, in depth, to Sugar Ray about Tommy Hearns or Hagler, and Lennox Lewis about Tyson and Klitschko is amazing. It provides us with a huge amount of insight into how the boxers should act.
FNR4 showcases some of the most impressive visuals ever seen in a sports title. How are the physics developed when it comes to punches and the way a fighter's body reacts? Should we check local hospitals around EA for people who volunteered to be punching bags?
The physics system was the brain child of George...one of our very talented software engineers. The team realized early on if we wished to truly raise the bar in the fighting category the game engine we were previously using simply wouldn't cut it. The Fight Night team worked extremely hard pulling together the different pieces of the physics engine. It was a major challenge and affected several areas of the game. In the end, the results speak for themselves...I really believe it's going to revolutionize how fighting games are made because it uses real world physics calculations...you can't get any more realistic than that.
Aside for the game play producer Brian and I kicking the stuffing out of one another in sparring sessions when we were prototyping ....the local hospitals should be all clear. I'm more concerned about all of the controller smashing as a result of losing fights online...I've already gone through two.
Legacy Mode is the all-new career mode in FNR4. What are some of the new things a fighter should expect during a career?
Legacy Mode was completely overhauled based on feedback from the Fight Night community and from features we felt were missing from Fight Night Round 3. Users can expect many new and exciting features...some of my favorites are;
1. The Legacy Ranking Ladder which determines your current place in the pantheon of boxing history and challenges the user to complete a check list of items that will stretch their boxer's skill.
2. Multiple belts in each weight division and the fact each of the sanctioning bodies require you to take mandatory title defenses
3. Boxer challenges - as you progress up the ladder to becoming champion of the world you'll receive fight challenges via email from; Rivals, challengers, and maybe even the champion of the world looking to give a kid his 1st big break.
4. A real schedule that allows the user to determine who they fight, when they fight and how often they train.
I could go on...The point to take away is we've added well over a dozen new features to the Fight Night Round 4Legacy Mode that were not in Fight Night Round 3 hopefully everyone will enjoy them.
EA has been successful in delivering support of its titles via downloadable content. FNR4 seems built for this type of support be that with additional venues, boxers etc. Are there plans to support FNR4 after release with new content?
Absolutely! We haven't solidified our DLC plans yet but...user's can expect the Dev Team to be extremely active on message boards soliciting feedback from our users regarding which features are being well received. We'll be looking for opportunities to deliver high quality game content to the community well after we ship that keeps Fight Night Round 4 fresh.
How does the team come up with the Achievements and Trophies? Is there a top secret gathering to decide how easy or difficult they'll be?
I wouldn't say its top secrete...no...LOL. Our goal is to spread the achievements out so there is a good mix of easy, moderate, and difficult achievements in addition to challenging the user to explore the features of Fight Night.
Are there any significant differences between the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the game?
No. Both run at a silky smooth 60 FPS. Our rendering and art team worked extremely hard to ensure the visuals were top notch on both platforms. Trust me, getting slugged in the face and seeing the punch reverberate through the glove then your nose before you bounce off the canvas will look great on both the PS3 and XBOX 360.
Looking back on the development of FNR4, what is the team most proud of having accomplished?
Three are so many things for our team to be proud of ... I don't want to presume to speak for the team but if I had to pick one thing it would be...the fact Fight Night Round 3 set a very high bar for us to meet...Our team took this challenge head on and in my opinion not only met it...but exceeded it in terms of visuals, game play and feature set...something they should be very, very proud of.