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Fight Night Round 4 Impressions 
Posted on July 1, 2009 at 11:08 AM.
Man, I am loving this game.
This is easily the best boxing game I've ever played.
From the physics, graphics, AI to Legacy Mode I'm going to be playing this bad-boy for a long, long time.
The best thing about this game is that it captures the nuances of the sweet science far greater than its predecessors.

For example; in previous boxing games, the goal was to simply hit your opponent more than you are hit and when their health meter gets to 0, the man goes 'boom'.
It's a simple approach to a complex game and unfortunately every boxing game from the Atari to the 360 and PS3 followed this formula.
Not Fight Night Round 4.
After all, there are plenty of stoppages and knockdowns that occur in professional boxing where the fighter who's stopped or floored had a full tank of gas and his wits about him.
This is something that has been far overdue in a boxing game and I applaud EA for their efforts.

That's why it's in the users best interest to turn off the HUD, or if you prefer to have it on, don't pay attention to your opponents health bar.

In order to be successful in this game you need to think like a real fighter would. Patience, opportunity and intelligence are needed to attain victory.
Fights can end quickly if you use all of the above, just like things can get ugly if you don't use any of the prescribed tactics.
Simply bombing away hoping to beat the life out of your opponent will not suffice if you are to be called the Greatest of All Time.

I've had plenty of early stoppages, including one-punch KO's by employing sound defense and countering from my opponents missed opportunities. Not only that, but you are rewarded for using angles, throwing complete combinations and utilizing your physical attributes.
Why would I want to engage in a trench-war if my opponent is significantly smaller in both height and weight than I am? Especially if they possess more power that I. I'd prefer to peck them apart using my jab and cross, while shooting in for a 3-4 punch combo before retreating to a safe distance.

The CPU's AI is also something EA needs to be applauded for. Some fighters will try to brawl; others will attempt to remain close while counter-punching their way to a win. You'll also face parameter fighters who like to do their business from a distance and keep you at bay with a stingy jab or cutting crosses.
The CPU will also learn and adapt to your tendencies. So a right-cross that was money for the first three rounds won’t necessarily be there rounds 4 through 12.

And because there are 14 different attributes for everything from body toughness to chin, to individual ratings for either hand, you'll face different challenges from each opponent.
The other night, while fighting as my Legacy heavyweight, Cadillac "The Cannon" Cunningham, I fought an extremely tough cookie who had an impressive chin.
Throughout the first eight rounds I hit him with everything but Ike Turner's backhand, but the man would not go down. I could barely stun him. Thanks to the commentary of Joe Tessitore and Teddy Atlas, I was reminded often about my opponent’s reinforced chin. While I was frustrated that I could not put this man down, I loved the challenge and versatility that this game offers. Eventually I was able to wear him down to the point where he could no longer absorb the bombs I was planting on his beard and he succumbed to four knockdowns before the referee mercifully called the fight.
I've had over 40 fights in the multitude of Legacy Modes I've started and that was the first bout where I've had to reduce my adversary’s health bar to zero before they were stopped.

Which leads me into another big positive in Fight Night Rd4; realistic amount of stoppages and knockdowns.
In another Legacy Mode I have going, my fighter is more of a boxer who lacks in power. In ten pro fights, he has a mere 5 stoppages. Considering the caliber of Tomato Can's that exist near the bottom of the 53 fighters in my weight class, that's not a lot. I really have to work on my opponent to end the fight before it's in the hands of the judges.

Gone are the dozens of knockdowns you saw in Round 3. You won't have to stomach watching someone get up time and time again like his chin was full of lead and his heart full of Jake LoMatta's blood.

In one bout I participated in, the fight went all ten rounds and featured only one knockdown, which was my own in the final round. It was my fault too as I got careless and got caught with a perfectly placed right-cross. It was a flash knockdown and I got up early, but it showed off the wonderful physics that runs under the Fight Night Engine.

I guess the greatest thing you can say about Fight Night is the abundance of variety you'll see throughout dozens, even hundreds of fights.
I've owned the game since the 19th and through 50+ encounters, I seem to discover or witness something new each time out.

And if you feel that there's some tweaking that needs to be done in the gameplay department there are a multitude of sliders to adjust.

The only negatives that come to mind are that the presentation, Legacy Mode and Create-A-Boxer could all be a tad more robust.
While all three have their merits they are lacking in depth to some degree. For instance, in regards to presentation it would be nice to see replays between rounds or after the fight's conclusion. A weekly wrap-up show would be tremendous also.
The commentary, while excellent, gets a bit stale over time and I would like it to be more dynamic. Tessitore or Atlas never mention your fighter’s record or give any tidbits about previous fights you may have had. During your Legacy Mode, if you engage in a competitive and entertaining fight, it will be added to the ESPN Classics archive. Wouldn't it be cool if Atlas mentioned that in future fights? "This kid was in an absolute classic against Kurt Byrd last summer”.

I appreciate that they now have a database full of last names, but what about first names?

Legacy Mode is a definite improvement over the jumbled mess that existed in Fight Night Round 3. For starters, they actually have rankings. I know that sounds ridiculous that Round 3 didn't even have this. It's like playing Madden and not having standings. But rest assured, they're back in Round 4.
There's also a calendar to work with in setting up your future fights. This is a sweet feature that shows how much time you'll need to recover and train before getting in the ring again.
You can even check out the results of all the fights that took place on the cards you were involved with. It's cool to see when you're fighting in a PPV event or on ESPN's Friday Night Fights. It's especially cool to see if you're on the undercard of a championship tilt.
Speaking of championships, how awesome is it to have three different belts to unify? As Rhino in the movie Bolt would say, it's "Beyond Awesome. It's B-Awesome".
However there is a glitch in the game that some might gripe over. If you unify the titles and then lose them, your adversary does not retain all three belts. He'll keep one, but the other two will fall to the first and second ranked fighters in your division. And the CPU controlled fighters will never unify them on their own.
However, those issues are minimal and I'm still in love with a dynamic field of opponents who will move up and down as you do.

Create a Boxer utilizes various pre-made faces and bodies for you to create fighters. There is a wide variety here, but if you're not satisfied with cookie-cutter templates you can use components like the Eye-Toy or upload your photo's to EA's Photo Game Face.
Using all three will give you some excellent CAB's but it would have been nice to have what Tiger Woods Golf 10 has. There's more customization so that if you're photo didn't come out right using Game Face, you can tweak it to perfection.

All in all though, this is a great boxing game. Even if you're not a ring-rat and your boxing knowledge doesn't extend beyond Muhammad Ali or Mike Tyson, you will enjoy this game.

This is EA Canada's first attempt with the Fight Night franchise and it's a dandy. Considering that Fight Night will be a bi-yearly release, this team will have 24 months to smooth out any issues or add in features that might not have made it into Round 4. Two years seems like a long time, but this is a game that I believe will carry itself well until 2011. From online, to Legacy Mode to the customization the sliders allow, Fight Night Round 4 could very well go down as one of the Greatest of All Time.
Do yourself a favor and get into the ring today. You won't be disappointed.

My rating: 9/10 overall.
Only the minor gripes I pointed out in regards to the Create-A-Boxer, Presentation and Legacy Mode prevent it from being higher.
Comments
# 1 acts238shaun @ Jul 1
I agree. I passed on NCAA and bought this game today.
 
# 2 trufootball @ Jul 1
Agree with everything. Great blog! Best boxing game of all time!
 
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