Fight Night Round 4: First Look

We are fans of video games here at BoxingWatchers. Unfortunately, since we've started here there hasn't been a credible boxing video game that has seen a release (no, Don King Presents: Prizefighter doesn't count). But the wait is almost over for EA's highly anticipated return to the virtual boxing ring with Fight Night Round 4.

FN R4 ships for the XBOX 360 and Playstation 3 on June 30, but the demo of the 360 version was released earlier this month. If you didn't get to check it out, Spartan117 has you covered.

When you boot up the demo, it showcases the new features that have been added to the series since Round 3. It shows off some really neat stuff, such as a revamped Create a Boxer mode where you can use actual photographs of yourself to create yourself as an up-and-coming future champion.

Online competitive play has also gotten a face lift. The demo doesn't go into great detail about the new online play but it looks like there will be an actual world title in each weight class for which the online community will compete. The beginning of the demo also shows off the attention to detail to the technical aspects of the sport itself, such as the importance of height and reach, but more on that later.

Before you can jump in the ring, you are forced to go through a tutorial of the basics. You lace up the gloves as Ricky Hatton in a boxing gym against a still, defenseless Manny Pacquiao.

The first thing you notice are the graphics. They are top-notch, absolutely stunning. The in-game physics are also amazing. The boxers' shorts sway and swing according to every bounce and movement of the boxer.

If you are familiar with the controls of the previous Fight Nights, they are almost the same. If you aren't, the right stick controls your punches. Moving the stick straight to the right will through a straight right, while moving it straight and left will throw - you guessed it - a straight left.

A hook is thrown by swinging the stick from the right or left to the top (like the real motion of a hook). And an uppercut is thrown by moving the stick down to the right or left and then swinging it to the top. Yes, this motion also resembles the motion of an arm throwing an uppercut.

The left stick controls the boxer's movement around the ring. Blocking is achieved by holding the right trigger while moving the right stick in areas that you would like to guard. Ducking and weaving is done by holding the left trigger and moving the left stick in the direction that you would like to duck.

You can hold one of the shoulder buttons to load up and throw the haymaker. It may sound complicated, but the controls are very easy to pick up.

After completing the tutorial, you go to the main menu. You can jump right into an exhibition fight or see the list of boxers. The list of boxers includes an impressive 48-boxer line-up.

The list includes the following with their overall in-game rating:

Tomasz Adamek 83, Muhammad Ali 92, Jorge Arce 91, Amin Asikainen 79, Emanuel Augustus 84

Marco Antonio Barrera 84, Joe Calzaghe 90, Nate Campbell 84, Eddie Chambers 80, Julio Cesar Chavez 84

Kermit Cintron 82, Diego Corrales 85, Miguel Cotto 88, Billy Dib 85, Nonito Donaire 88

Roberto Duran 93, George Foreman 83, Joe Frazier 87, Yuriorkis Gamboa 87, Arturo Gatti 86

Roberto Guerrero 84, Marvin Hagler 92, Vivian Harris 80, Ricky Hatton 81, Thomas Hearns 90

Roy Jones Jr. 90, Jake Lamotta 87, Ray Leonard 91, Lennox Lewis 83, Paulie Malignaggi 80

Fernando Montiel 84, Carlos Monzon 88, Sergio Mora 82, Erik Morales 88, Tommy Morrison 82

Shane Mosely 89, Anthony Mundine 82, Victor Ortiz 79, Manny Pacquiao 85, Kelly Pavlik 87

Vinny Paz 85, Ray Robinson 93, Cory Spinks 78, Jermain Taylor 84, James Toney 86

Mike Tyson 88, Pernell Whitaker 96, Winky Wright 84

Now for the fight. You only get to choose between two of the 48 fighters: Manny Pacquiao or Ricky Hatton. You get to re-live the battle of east and west, except this version will be held at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. The entrances are realistic and solid. Unfortunately, no "Blue Moon" for Hatton's entrance and also no Michael Buffer. The crowd looks great.

Here we go. I picked to fight as Manny Pacquiao. The commentary is great and is handled by ESPN's Joe Tessitore and Teddy Atlas. Hatton comes right forward and starts throwing as he did in the real fight.

One of the things that the EA folks stressed was the importance of clean punches. I peppered Hatton with a lot of punches that grazed that did some damage but didn't put Hatton in any kind of danger. It was only when I looked for opportunities to land clean haymakers that Hatton started reeling.

I landed a huge left cross (like the one from last month), and Hatton clinched to stay on his feet. You can push him off when he does that. I hit him with a few more and he went down. Great realism.

The corner game is also improved in Round 4. Depending on how well you do in the previous round, you accumulate points that you can spend on fixing your fighter's health, stamina, or damage (cuts).

The physics are really on display in the real fight. You can see every muscle flex in the fighter's torso when they throw a big punch, and if it lands upstairs you can see the face ripple. It's really amazing. The sweat and spit are flying with every clean headshot, and when a cut opens, the blood pours the more you target it.

I played a handful of matches, and flush punching really does make a difference. I rocked Hatton with the cleanest haymaker I could possibly land and he didn't get up after the first knockdown. In other fights he got up four or five times.

The demo is certainly an indication of how great this game is going to be. I hope that the career mode is an improvement from the previous Fight Night installments, which were lacking. I'll be sure to write a full review when I get my hands on a copy at the end of the month.

Posted by spartan117


The Dude said...

Does Pac-Man's entrance come with Batista? And does Hatton's entrance come with William Regal?

spartan117 said...

Hah, sadly no. Would have been a nice touch though. I actually wish they would have added some real trainers or at least someone who is usually in their entourage. But that's a minor gripe.

uatu said...

finally a chance to use cory spinks in a video game.