Fight Night Round 4

Like Manny Pacquiao, pound for pound the world’s best boxer, Fight Night Round 4 has all the qualities of a champion. It’s a game that’s technically exacting, dramatic and satisfying. However, while it looks great and has a remarkable attention to detail, it also takes a few chances. Dangerous tactics in the fight game where protecting yourself at all times is paramount.

Fight Night Round 4 makes it simple to jump straight into the action. Load the game up and within moments you’ll be choosing from fifty current and past champions. Among them Roy Jones Jr., Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Robinson, all lean and in their prime, are just waiting for the chance to show their skills.

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Once you enter the ring the standard of the graphics is immediately apparent. Each fighter is unique and recognisable. They glisten and bristle and flex. Each fighter carries themselves with an air of invincibility that is perfectly animated and as close to the real thing as any fight fan fed up with paying thirty dollars for the latest televised PPV fight could hope for.

At the sound of the bell you’ll get your first taste of the challenges ahead. The fighters move smoothly and have real weight. As the cameras flash around you and the crowds get to their feet, you have to keep moving, keep fighting momentum and fatigue, to find the opening in your opponent’s defences. When punches land, skin and muscles distort and sweat, blood and spit flies.

There is no traditional button mashing here. With Fight Night Round 4, EA Canada has transferred its Skate control system to the boxing ring. Your fighter’s footwork is controlled with the left stick. Holding down the L1 trigger will lock his feet and enable you to lean, sway and bob your way out of trouble. L2 instantly switch stances, a move that will stymie even the most intelligent boxer.

The right stick is used to throw punches. Flick the stick left and right to throw shots at your opponent’s body. Up at an angle will attack the head. Sounds simple? For those who still have lost sleep over the intricacies of the Skate combinations, prepare for some more night terrors. Down and around, left and up, up and backwards. Straight jabs, left hooks, uppercuts and overhand rights, all performed without touching a face button. Life was so much easier when you could just mash X.

But that is just the start of the complexities of the control system. While the R1 button lets you pull back and cover up, protecting yourself either high or low, the R2 button activates your haymakers. In essence this means pulling back and winding up for that knockout blow. Of course, this opens you up to be blocked or countered or simply beaten to the punch. It also drains your stamina, reducing your power and making you an easy target.

Your boxer’s movements are also factored into the effectiveness of your combinations. If you’re swaying out of the way with L1 this will change your punching angles. In this way you are able to get around your opponent’s defences.

Get around your opponent’s defences and the bout can end very quickly. Alternatively you can wear down your opponent from the outside. Over a number of rounds you can watch his eyes close and cuts open and bleed. Depending on how well you fought you earn points that can help you recover health, stamina and damage between rounds. If your health or damage gets too low, you’ll be open to take massive damage, ending your night quickly. If you do get knocked down you get the chance to steady yourself and stand up. But the more you’re knocked down the harder it will be to carry on.

If that all sounds complicated, it is. Which is why the game lets you be Mike Tyson, and then lets you fight like Mike Tyson. Chin down, straight ahead, throwing bombs. In two-player mode and early on in your career this works fine. But as your opponents get more experienced you’ll need to develop your skills and ringmanship, or they’ll pick you apart and you’ll go back to being the bum you always were.

Online also offers you plenty of scope to unleash your inner Tyson. You can upload your custom fighter or your fight settings. Or you can take part in quick matches, tournaments or championships. All the fighters stats are levelled so you all start on the same footing. Therefore winning will come down to your own skill and your choice of fighter.

Choice of fighter is important because although fighters have a number of modifiable attributes, like their real life counterparts, they also have their own style, strengths and weaknesses. Finding these, compensating for them in your own fighter and exploiting them in those you fight will count a lot towards your success in the ring. This is not only true when you’re playing online, but also in Fight Night Round 4’s excellent career mode.

Career mode, in Fight Night Round 4, is dubbed the Legacy mode. Here you take a pre-set or created fighter from the backstreet gyms to headlining at the MGM Grand. On your calendar you have fight days and training days available. Click on a fight day and fighters, usually ranked a few places above you, can be booked. Once a fight is booked training days open up. On training days you can choose to either auto-complete or play through various mini games.

Successfully completing training mini-games will add to your stats. For example, you can increase your powers of recovery by surviving a sparring session with high damage and very low stamina. Power can be increased with work on the heavy bag, while a session on the double end bag helps with footwork and endurance. However these can also negatively affect other stats, too much strength work might reduce your speed, so knowing your opponent’s abilities and tailoring your training to suit can be the difference between winning and early retirement.

Good fights affect your Legacy in a number of ways. The less beat up you get the sooner you can fight again. The more fights, the faster you rise, and the more popular you become with the crowds. Soon you don’t have to go begging for a match, fighters are lining up to challenge you. Eventually you’ll be getting awards and title shots. Move up weight classes and in the end, depending on your skills, your chin, and your heart, you will be retiring a ring legend.

Fight Night Round 4, like the real fight game, is tough but rewarding. Where else could you keep Mike Tyson at bay with a few solid jabs before rocking him with a left to the body and sitting him down with an overhand right? Sure, at the time I was a young Muhammad Ali, but even so it’s a moment of gaming nirvana, the kind of moment you only get in a video game. Despite the difficult control system, that can lead to you just throwing haymakers and hoping, and the limited appeal of what is comparatively a minority sport, Fight Night Round 4 is a solid contender.

So if you want to get your revenge on Manny Pacquiao with a younger, hungrier Ricky Hatton. If you find Anthony Mundine incredibly annoying and want to shut him up once and for all. Or if you just want a tough, great looking game. It's time to step into the ring and show us what you’ve got.

"A game with superior skills and a granite chin."
- Fight Night Round 4
Follow Own it? Rating: M   Difficulty: Medium   Learning Curve: 30 Min


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Comments Comments (17)

Posted by Moneyshot
On Monday 6 Jul 2009 10:31 AM
I like the detail and the control system but the legacy mode is dragged out with its waiting for the fight and trainin.
Its confusing and dosnt work with the flow of the game.
Posted by twisterjamz
On Monday 6 Jul 2009 11:12 AM
played the demo its awesome
Posted by Barnicals
On Monday 6 Jul 2009 12:04 PM
Nice write up, Dene. Sounds a lot better than I was expecting, with the footwork and what have you. Preeetty tempting.
Posted by Ruptunex
On Monday 6 Jul 2009 1:17 PM
Posted by Insanctity
On Monday 6 Jul 2009 4:51 PM
The legacy mode is alright, I don't see the problem with it being drawn out, the road to champion is a long one. the training tho proves quite difficult, I'd mastered the training in 3 but I struggle in 4.
Who cares if the training is a pain in the ass and the legacy mode is long. If you want to play a boxing game this is the one. The combos flow, especially if you've had boxing experience. Once you master the weave youll be unstoppable!
Posted by dman
On Monday 6 Jul 2009 7:12 PM
yeah demo is awesome
Posted by Illmatic
On Tuesday 7 Jul 2009 8:07 AM
Pretty much the best boxing game ever.
Posted by kuji275
On Tuesday 7 Jul 2009 10:14 AM
7 July 2009, 08:07 AM Reply to Illmatic
Pretty much the best boxing game ever.

i picked up this game yesterday and i think EA improved in all the right areas. worth picking up if your a fan of FNR3
Posted by Fatmike
On Tuesday 7 Jul 2009 11:51 AM
The more you like boxing the more you'll like this game. For me Roy Jones Jnr rules so FNR4 rules. Its hard to see round that and keep it in perspective.
Hope your having a good holiday Barney.
Posted by jbl316
On Tuesday 7 Jul 2009 12:39 PM
Awesome game even if you are not a fan boxing its still a fun beat em up title.
Posted by Rapidity
On Tuesday 7 Jul 2009 4:18 PM
The demo was great, glad they dropped the parry. Will buy a copy if I don't win the comp.
Posted by Gazza22
On Tuesday 7 Jul 2009 6:23 PM
Looking to pick this up. Loved FNR3 and the demo for this impressed.
Posted by Daniel1987
On Tuesday 7 Jul 2009 8:32 PM
Hopefully EA make use of the downloadable content section that's in the game.
The Host of Chaos
Posted by The Host of Chaos
On Wednesday 15 Jul 2009 6:19 PM
If they added fireballs I'd probably get it.
Posted by kalify
On Tuesday 4 Aug 2009 2:41 PM
Excellent game the Game face function and controls are awesome but it needs a server for AUS/NZ World Championship mode and a lobby like Street Fighter where your friends can spectate and line up for the next fight because beating your mate down while your friends look on Priceless
Posted by Ese-Boii
On Saturday 19 Sep 2009 12:32 PM
Awesome game, awesome graphics jst overall awesome......only downfall is the ai....its like they know what your gonna do...u jab he blocks go for an uppercut he blocks and that sucks
Posted by Majorkorn
On Saturday 3 Oct 2009 4:24 PM
proberly much like fight night round 3 very repeditive, try UFC out, alot more moves and very brutal