Fight Night Round 4 has come to the PS3 and Xbox 360 having switched development teams and made a few extra trips to the training room. With so much retooling and new hands at the helm, gamers are bound to ask whether EA’s latest entry in the Fight Night franchise delivers a solid punch that will make them rethink returning to the ring, or whether it’s just an aging pugilist blowing through lightweights. Having duked it out with Fight Night Round 4, we’ve come back with the following blow-by-blow decision.
Everything has been beefed up since the last outing, most notably the fights, which are scheduled by the player rather than dictated and include a larger range of opponents compared to Fight Night Round 3. There seems to be no difference in stats or rep in how long you take between fights, other than the rounds of training you acquire, which now stack. Training mini-games are back, but it’s a lazy jab at them and most (if not all) are pretty boring. You’ll probably find yourself hitting “auto train” more often than not. The difference is that now you can train certain parts and not affect others, which seems odd considering you can’t hire a manager in Fight Night Round 4. Like some Glass Joe is going to know how to target specific parts of his body….
The create-a-boxer mode enables a wide variety of options to build your ultimate champion, and it really seems much more robust than before, with uniforms and entrances, among other features. The number of pros to pick from when trying to rebuild a career is also large, and the chances are high that most gamers won’t even see them all for a long, long time.
Playing the game is a sight to behold, as it delivers a rock-solid 60 frames-per-second display. Almost all of the clipping issues from previous outings have been solved, delivering a solid uppercut to the game engine. For the first time, you’ll actually notice whether you’re 5′ 11″ and someone 6′ 9″ is coming at you. Controls are now restricted to the L and R sticks and can not be remapped to buttons. Word around the interwebs is that EA may address this with some form of DLC, but in oru estimation, it’s far more fun playing with sticks, and you can’t load up a punch on the opponent as in Fight Night Round 3. It really does translate to a new dynamic in that the fighting turns into a series of chess moves, and counters are more key then ever to your strategy.
Unfortunately, even though we’re in the fourth outing in the series, there are still a bunch of load times, and the way it affects the soundtrack can be quite annoying as the fight stats rise up, fade out, rise up again and then skip to the next track completely — all in about 15 to 30 seconds. When you’re playing Career mode, this becomes a bit tiresome. Somehow Fight Night Round 4 also falters in the depiction of pain each punch inflicts. We’re hardly masochists, but Fight Night Round 3 delivered on that in a big way. Fight Night Round 4 even does away with cornerman mini-games and reduces it to points that are earned during the fight for successful punches and can then be allocated to health, stamina and block. It may be more realistic, but it doesn’t satisfy our inner Tyson.
Still, put all these elements together, and Fight Night Round 4 is a solid sequel that delivers a TKO. The game not only shows itself to be worthy of a purchase as a showcase for your console, but also for the gameplay it delivers. If you like boxing and you play video games, Fight Night Round 4 is a must have.
- Score: 9
— Phillip Vollmer