Fight Night Round 4 Review: Toe-To-Toe In The Ring
In EA’s inevitable attempt to continue to capitalize on their franchises, “Fight Night Round 4″ is ready to step into the ring, and build on the beloved franchise built by the new defunct EA Chicago. I have been waiting for this game since I first played “Fight Night Round 3,” and even though there was a lot of good in that game, the the career mode was absolutely horrible. So, after a few years of holding my breath, it’s finally time touch gloves, and come out swinging in “Fight Night Round 4.”
Boy was I stoked… like a kid in a candy store, I swear. But, with great expectations comes great let downs, and this is in no way a shot to the good people at EA who made this game happen. However, there are things that could have been done to make this game the best boxing video game ever created. Now, I’m not going to sit here and give you a full out review of the entire game piece by piece like some other generic sites do, but, what I will do, is give you key points to why this game to me is great, but unimpressive.
One of the main complaints of “Fight Night Round 3″ was the lack of a working, interesting career mode. And, I’ll hand it to EA Sports, they really listened to a good amount of our wishes this time around. Starting out in the new Legacy mode, you can now import user created boxers (both local, and via Xbox Live/PSN), as well as un-include legends like Ali, Tyson etc. etc. This for me was a big problem in “Fight Night Round 3,” as I hated starting a career out and getting Joe Frazier as my rival. Knocking out Frazier four fights in row in the first round, does not make him my rival. It was also annoying that I had no control over whether or not I wanted the old timers in my career mode. So that is a great option this time around.
The customization in “Fight Night Round 4″ is terrific, for the most part, including unlockables like Tyson’s shirt towel to the ring, but there are a couple head cratchers (which I will address later). The AI in the game is pretty challenging, with the computer adapting pretty well to how you fight. In addition to that, there are sliders included; however the game is missing a slider for fatigue, which is curious.
Once in the ring, the commentary, headlined by Joe Tessitore and Teddy Atlas, is decent, but it gets repetitive very fast. If I have to hear “Greed is one of the seven deadly sins” one more time, I think I’m going to chuck my controller at some elderly woman. Then, out of the ring, the stat tracking is incredibly deep for you numbers junkies. In fact, you can even have the stats emailed to you after you’re done with the fight. Also included is the online championship belt, which includes three different divisions. The online matches seem rather smooth, with very little lag. Hopefully this is a feature that EA will build on for the inevitable release of “Fight Night Round 5.”
Let me start with the game’s customization: Thank you EA Sports for including a database of names that the announcer will say, but why didn’t you include the “Mayweather” or “Williams” as last names? Head scratcher. Ok so the announcer won’t say “Paul Williams,” fine; but why is the last name of Robinson not in the database, when you already have Sugar Ray Robinson? It doesn’t make any sense. Also, why are there so few hair choices? Where are the taunts? Where are the tattoos? More nicknames would be nice too. And maybe it’s just me, but the boxers bodies feel a bit disproportionate.
Glad to get that out….
When I first started my Welterweight Legacy with my character “Naymon GOLDEN Rogers”, I imported all my created boxers that didn’t make the game. Mayweather, Juan Manuel Marquez, Amir Khan, Paul Williams, etc., etc. However, after turning pro, there seems to be an import glitch which was evident when the Floyd Mayweather Jr. I created (who looked exactly like him), somehow took on the face of the heavyweight boxer I imported by the name of “David Haye.” That was a bit annoying. On cue, the David Haye looking Mayweather retired at the age of 32. What realism.
The interface in Legacy mode is a bit clunky as well. While the game provides good information about your fighter, and the goals needed to ascend the Pound 4 Pound rankings, it feels very cluttered and overwhelming at first. Hopefully, some dev work on the interface will make it easier on the eyes next time around.
At the end of every calendar year boxers in every weight class will be awarded things like Fighter of the Year, Defender of the Year, Fight of the Year, and Knockout of the Year. To put it simply, this is broken. I started out my Legacy with a 6-0 record for the first year, and and I received two nominations, neither of which were Prospect of the Year (apparently you need a 3-2 to do that). Both Fight of the Year nominations were strange, being that I was ranked 46 and 39 respectively for both fights. I don’t see how my six round knockout war with an opponent that was ranked 47th beat out Mayweather vs Margarito, but hey, whatever floats Legacy mode’s boat. This is something that hopefully gets addressed quickly via patch.
Another big hole in Legacy mode is the rankings. I’m glad they actually have a ranking system this time around, but this needs some patchwork as well. I received too many emails telling me there is an up and coming prospect, yet when I look at his stats, he is 10-13 with no knockouts. In fact, I saw this way too much for my liking on my rankings board. Almost everyone on there had losses in the double digits. I would think a 29th ranked fighter would not have a record like 20-22. It just didn’t seem to make sense.
Next up is the calendar used to schedule fights. It would be nice to get some advice from a trainer regarding when I should and shouldn’t fight. I am only ten fights into my pro career, but I found it odd that the most training sessions I could have before a fight was three. Hopefully this is just because I was ranked as a “prospect,” because if I am the champ, and I have a fight scheduled once every six months, I should be able to train more than three times between those fights.
Also, the created fighters still have a horrible fashion sense. I fought three guys in a row who were wearing red shoes and green and pink trunks. Hopefully it will just take a little time to go up against someone that can actually match their shorts and their shoes.
And then there’s the ring introductions … it would be nice to have an announcer who actually was enthusiastic about who he was introducing. I would even be happy to have EA turn up the announcer’s volume so I could clearly hear my nickname, and last name being announced. That would be a nice start.
Also, not to nitpick, but my created fighters name is “Naymon Rogers” yet it regularly appears as “N. Rogers.” This tiny little aspect of the game bothered me as I encountered a rather interesting feature. The day of my scheduled fight, I received a pop up message alerting me that the fighter I was scheduled to box had been injured, and he had been replaced with a new fighter named Maximillion Hall. First of all, I should be given an option on whether or not to take the fight. Second of all, I should at least get to see who I’m fighting (Ratings, Stats, etc.) before they throw me in the ring with an animal. Then, when he was introduced with a 30-3 record by the name of “M. Hall,” I had to try really hard to remember who I was fighting. EA sweat the details, please
Prior to “FNR4″’s release many fans made a huge outcry about Total Punch Control. I’m surprised EA was so heartless about their response, saying that the game is made how it is made, and people need to learn to use the controls. However, after constant petitioning, it has been said that button punching might be added later on via DLC. While I generally like T.P.C., it is a little flawed. There were too many times when I went to throw a hook and got a body shot instead. To add to that, they have taken the power out of the punching. If you do not know how to counter well or slip punches well, it is very hard to land what feels like solid punches. Most punches feel like your arms are wet noodles that barely hurt the other fighter. While this doesn’t reflect on screen with the damage delivered, you really don’t get the sense of heavy hands like you should in a boxing game. The knockdowns are also very ho-hum, and nothing too special. Most times it feels like I’m just pushing the opponent to the ground, and not knocking him out. There are times when I do see decent knockouts, but where are the DEVASTATION KNOCKOUTS I want to see? “UFC Unleashed 2009″ did them quite well - why can’t “Fight Night”? Maybe the presentation is the problem, and all it could really take is making the announcers get excited and scream “OOOOOOOH he goes down,” or something, instead of the bland, stern voice telling me “Down he goes”.
AND finally, during the fight, it is also hard to see face damage. The majority of my fights have been slugfest wars where I was wailing on the guy’s face, and he was wailing on me, and yet you can’t really tell that I was getting cut, or my face was swelling. Additionally, why does my created fighter start with cuts and swelling at 99? Hopefully as I age this stat decreases. Also, in between rounds, It would be nice to see the other fighter, to see how much damage I have done to him. Thus far, they have not shown me this. These are just some little tweaks that would have made the experience a little bit more realistic.
In closing, even though I’ve offered a good handful of issues I have with the game, “Fight Night Round 4″ is still the best boxing title ever created (short of “Victorious Boxers 2: Road to Glory”). Do not let my problems with the game stop you from adding this must-have game to your collection. The new physics engine works great; the new Legacy mode is deep, and is well worth the wait. I just want perfection, is that too much to ask?
“Fight Night Round 4″ was developed by EA Canada, and published by EA, for release on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. This review is based on the Xbox 360 version.