Fight Night Round 4 Review (PS3)

Fight Night Round 4 is probably the most frustrating game we’ve played all year and conversely one of the best. In fact, although it becomes more frustrating the more you play, the fact remains you’re still sat there at three o’clock in the morning after telling yourself ‘Ok, one more fight then bed,’ having said it about twenty five times throughout the evening.

This review might read like a rant as we will now prattle on and on about what gets on our nerves so much. But when you’re reading through our list of irritations, always bear in mind that Fight Night Round 4 is the best of the series so far, the best boxing game we’ve ever played, and one of our games of the year to date. Now, on with the bitching:

You can customise your ring intro by adding fireworks, laser and dry ice.
Stunning visuals here.

The first and most annoying thing in Fight Night is the training. The schedules seem very difficult to master and can really make or break any career you might embark on. Yes, we know you can practice these in the front end to your heart’s content but you won’t really want to. Why? Because they aren’t really too fun to play either.

The reason training is so vital is because basically your boxer can’t progress properly without it. Each training regime enhances a specific attribute on your boxer: RPG-style. For example, one training regime boosts your movement ability and hand speed, another your right hand punch power and chin (the extent to which you can take a punch) and another your body strength and stamina.

Now, the higher the score you receive in training - the more successful combos you pull off etc. - the more points will be added to your boxer’s skills. However, given the difficulty and the often imprecision of the highly debated analogue-only control system, scoring maximum points becomes a rarity. This isn’t too important early on in your career as most opponents can be out boxed by blocking well and countering accordingly.

The cracks start showing the higher up the world ranking ladder you get, as all the AI boxers around you suddenly become bastard hard: their stats are through the roof. This means you have to fight lesser opponents over and over again and slowly build up points so you can eventually take on one of the big boys. This ‘wall’ that you hit really starts to grind after a while. You find yourself caught in a catch 22 situation: you know you have to get better at the training regimes in order to progress, but the training regimes are rather boring, and often you are punished unfairly due to imprecise analogue movements and therefore simply can’t be bothered with them. So what do you do?

Move and punch, move and punch. Training is the only way to progress.
Man-sweat: we love it!

Well, luckily enough the actual fighting itself is nothing short of brilliant. The boxer AI is the best AI we’ve seen in any game and each fight and fighter has its own personality. Fighters respond to your tactics meaning you have to constantly think whilst maintaining your patience as simply spamming the punches is a sure fire way to lose a fight in a hurry - especially as you break into the top 10.

Other minor frustrations are things that could have made the game so much better. Take for example the annual awards. Each time the calendar goes past Dec 31st there are awards for best fight, best fighter, best round, best KO, best prospect, best comeback and so on in every single weight class and overall. However - yes, another however - it’s simply information on a screen; you can’t watch the best KO; you can’t watch the best round; you can just simply press “Continue” and move on. Why include these awards if you can’t interact with them in any way?

Also, the option to ‘Simulate’ fights seems to go against the ethos of the game entirely. Why would we buy a boxing game and not want to box? Why have the option in there in the first place? It simply doesn’t make any sense.

Other things like extremely slow loading times and the way you have to schedule a fight and sit and watch as the game cycles through each calendar day as you wait either to train, or to get back in the ring becomes incredibly tedious. Why not just jump forward in one go?

Nothing feels quite like it.
Defence is probably more important than attack. The counter-punch that will surely follow will do massive damage.

In a nutshell, EA needs to trim the fat somewhat. Every great sports game is based around keeping the adrenaline flowing, and although there’s nothing quite like the rush you feel when you’re toe to toe with your opponent in Fight Night Round 4, the comedown is a harsh one. There’s simply too much in the way that doesn’t feel necessary and either needs a re-work or simply be cut out all together.

But as we said earlier, the reason why we chose to focus on the negatives is because the positives are so good and anything that breaks that up feels ten times worse than it probably is. Fight Night Round 4 is a must for any sports enthusiast. The graphics are phenomenal, the soundtrack works perfectly, the in-game commentary is relaxed and realistic and the longevity and value-for-money charts are through the roof thanks to the myriad of boxers, weight classes and of course the online mode. Now go buy the game.

Top Gaming moment: One punch knock-downs never fail to raise a smile.

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By Smootherkuzz (I just got here) on Jul 14, 2009
You hit this one on the head, this game is good but it could have been great, the list of things that hold it back goes on and on, it seems the looks of the game over shadows the guts of the game play, there are alot of things they could have left out which would have freed up even more space for looks like skin movement when hit in the gut or a bloodly nose, even a broken nose (I have not seen this yet) the training on the last version was better then this one, I miss the corner talk between rounds, and to trhow any punch from the left hand is to much of a task and causes you to focus to much complete the action. the game will grow on you after all how many boxing games are on the market that is worth playing?