It’s been over 3 long years since the world has been introduced to Fight Night: Round 3. The graphics were highly attributed at its time during the launch of the next generation hardware. Since then, gamers have had many boxing games enter the ring, but none have come close to surpassing EA’s Fight Night franchise. That’s all about the change on June 30th when Fight Night: Round 4 hit store shelves for PS3 and Xbox 360.
On May 14th, an exclusive demo was released to download as a bonus for pre-ordering the game. You can fight for 3 rounds as Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton or Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao. For the rest, you can lace up your gloves for the free demo on May 28th on Xbox Live for gold subscribers or on June 4th for the Playstation Network.
I got my hands on this demo so I can give you an opinion and insight in to what Fight Night Round 4 did for my fighting spirit. The demo begins by introducing you to the biggest changes that have been made to Fight Night. Such as the NEW Total Control Fighting that takes advantage of each boxers style. “Style Makes Fights” is the center point of this games appeal campaign. Be a brawler, a counter-puncher, or an inside fighter and master distinctively unique styles that cater to your height, reach, and other attributes.
The right analog stick is used for punches and the left analog controls your leaning. The left trigger is no longer used for targeting the body, but to move the body itself. This puts the entire punch control on just the right analog stick. With signature moves, clinches, illegal blows and pushes mapped to the face buttons. The newly added push button does what it sounds like. It pushes the opponent away from you. You will need this function now that the boxers can get into each others close proximity. I welcome the games greatest improvements, the close to gone animation clipping and character proximity barrier from the previous game. So now when you uppercut to break an opponents guard , your bodies and limbs will actually come into contact and perform as they do in the real world.
Does the game pull off the style and precision that was promised? In short, yes it definitely controls more precisely and actually caters to your playing style much more then previous boxing games. The punching flows real well with the speed of your actually flicking and the fighters don’t feel like their sluggish counterparts in Fight Night Round 3. The first thing I noticed was the increase in speed of your boxer and how quickly the jabs come off the bell and quickly develop into a satisfying combo. What I felt next was what Fight Night Round 4 wants us all to feel in its gameplay. To have total control of your boxers timing, leans, and counters. No more will you have to worry about the parry spammer problem from round 3. That feature is completely gone, which opens up the gameplay for more match possibilities and outcomes. Timing is key in Fight Night Round 4, and one wrong angle and lean can lead to a knockout. If boxing has shown us one thing, it takes just one good punch to turn a fight around into a victory.
Fight Night has always been about the graphics. They were pretty much the selling point of Round 3 when it released on next-gen hardware. This time around the graphics are still very high quality but don’t quite have the appeal they did when the level of graphics was still mediocre in the console market. Even so, their is not much to complain about. The players bodies still sweat, bleed, and twist like no other goes. I could go on forever on how beautiful the textures and character models are, but I’ll let you see that for yourself.
When it comes to audio. The sound hasn’t changed much. The commentators still repeat themselves often, but at least it keeps up with the action 85% of the time. The standard EA RAPS parade flooding the menu systems is present in this EA Sports title like so many others. The fighting audio has plenty of bass and crunch as you beat sounds through your 5.1 speakers. The counter punches have a distinct thump when they connect so you know if a punch causes extra damage . The crowd presence are nothing fancy but add to the experience with their chants and cheers for individual boxers. They are fully rendered, so don’t expect cardboard cutouts.
Overall, Fight Night Round 4 has progressed like any good boxer does. At it’s core mechanics and speed. Even if you own Fight Night Round 3, Round 4 has enough new featured to pull you back in for a rematch. Look for over 40 fighters and an appealing online mode when you pick up this game on June 30th. Did I mention you can be Iron Mike Tyson without fear of going insane?