GAMECUBE REVIEW: FIGHT NIGHT ROUND 2

Boxing games have been around since the early days of gaming. Both Atari Boxing and Intellivision Boxing were released in 1980 respectively, Rocky took a few shots to the head on the Colecovision in 1983 and Nintendo's Punch Out appeared in arcades sometime in 84. For most of its legacy, vid boxing has been a humorous, cartoony affair, filled with colorful characters and wacky movelists. Electronic Arts has made great strides to change that perception with it's Fight Night franchise and Round 2 is a serious boxing fans dream - if you can overlook some major changes from last years game.

Since I'm honestly more of the Super Punch Out type of vid boxer, I didn't think I was going to get into the realism of Fight Night Round 2 and it's "total control boxing" control scheme. I was wrong. Due to a broken PS2 (that's number 2 Sony!) and the fact that I wanted my boy to play Super Punch Out I picked up the GameCube version and haven't been able to put it down. Actually that's not entirely true. I'm torn between being insanely addicted to the game and suffering boxer's thumb on my right hand from the total control configuration. I never knew boxing could hurt so much. It's one of those typical videogame strains that doesn't hurt until you place your thumb in the vicinity of the C stick and then it just screams bloody murder. Damn you Fight Night! If I continue I will seriously crack my thumb open and have to go the hospital and yet, I'm willing to gamble that....that's a testament to how great this game turned out to be.

Let's talk control. While I have largely been a vocal opponent of the Cube's controller, the C stick works incredibly well in this case due to it's hex shaped housing which allows you to drop the stick in the right directional angle to execute haymakers and uppercuts - two moves completely necessary to your success in the ring. Using the L analog stick to move, the C stick is mapped entirely for punches. Pressing upper right will send off a right jab, upper left will send a left jab while various directional inputs will result in haymakers and uppercuts. Pressing the L trigger allows your boxer to duck and sway while pressing the R trigger in tandem with the C stick provides guarding and parrying. Working with the C stick becomes intuitive after awhile but you have to stick with it. Don't give up. EA has allowed a button configuration as well which is what many weasels in the online community have adopted (not a factor for the Cube version unfortunately) and total control purists are annoyed. Let me just say that the control scheme is innovative and takes this game miles ahead of any other boxing game to date and is the ONLY way to play.

Gamers taken with last years Fight Night 2004 might be nonplussed when discovering that the punches in Round 2 don't provide quite the punishment this time around. Unless you really charge your haymaker, uppercut or utilize your special punch (several can be purchased throughout the game as you progress) you'll find that most punches do about as much damage as light jabs. Personally I didn't mind this alteration as I found it to be more realistic. Players need to pay more attention to their style when playing Round 2. If you're not connecting punches, you're going to get tired out which will result in loss of power and a nice massage for your opponent instead of a KO. I personally think it's a step in the right direction and therefore, Round 2 is one of the most realistic boxing titles to date, right next to Atari Boxing. Kidding.

Once you get past the Amateur Belt you'll be given options that allow you to alter the overall package. You'll be able to purchase trainers, cutmen, female entourage (who increase your stamina depending on the price), choose your into music and pyrotechnic lighting and effects for your entrance. All of these aspects will play a part in your success and whether you agree with that or not, that's how Round 2 is played. Keeping your body in shape and training is a great way to increase your stats because in Round 2 your boxer's body begins deteriorating after age 37 whether your pumped up or not. The training exercises are executed like mini games and most require dual thumb dexterity on the analog sticks. What you'll notice during these training sessions and the sparring sessions (where you must complete objectives to move on) is that you'll hear mostly negative comments about your performance even if you are nailing it. You'll be kicking ass and your trainer will be saying things like "Pay attention. What are you doing? I thought you came here to train" etc. Once you ace it he'll finally say "Great job" or something to that affect. Is this psychological torture really necessary?

The Cutman minigames between rounds are new to Round 2 (you must earn the Amateur belt first) and it provides you with 30 seconds to reduce swelling and attempt to heal cuts. If you don't attend to your boxer's wounds, you might throw the fight if the ref decides you're too cut up to continue.

Since I'm not a boxing expert, I can recognize only the most famous of the roster included in Round 2. Players are also given a fairly indepth create a boxer mode to create their own favorites not included or themselves. From a pure visual standpoint the game holds up very well. The boxers are well detailed, the animation is smooth and the minute details like sweat, blood and spit add to the realism. Where the game falls really flat in the visual department is in the background animations of the crowd and the intro movies. The animation of the crowd is running at a much slower framerate and looks choppy and stitled and the result achieved disconnects it from the action in the ring. The intro movies and the opening scene of the game look they were created on a high end PC, then videotaped with a camcorder, copied onto VHS and then dumped down to an mpeg format.

The style of music in the game is all rap and hiphop which EA believes goes with any sports these days. I'm not sure why that is, but it's not my preferred musical stylings. When I think boxing I think "Neil Diamond", but maybe that's just me. The voice coaching is a nice touch between rounds but after only a few fights you'll begin to hear repetition.

The obvious absence of online play - what is that Cube online network adapter for anyway Nintendo? - is rectified according to EA and the Big N by the presence of an SNES port of Super Punch Out and the ability to play as "Little Mac", the hero from the Mike Tyson's Punch Out on the NES but not necessarily the same dude from Super Punch Out.... I know, that's a little grey area. If you beat Super Punch Out you will be able to play Round 2 with a 3D version of Little Mac. I haven't beaten Super Punch Out yet because frankly I suck at it after all these years, so I have nothing to report. Could be cool.

The two player mode is a welcome friend, but really only if you play with someone who knows how to play the game, but that's really just common sense. As mentioned you can configure the controller and play the game with buttons rather than opting for "total control" but there are nuances to the game that just aren't achieved by using a button layout. The camera angles used in both the single player and two player game are identical and rarely will either player or the CPU be obscured.

Pound for pound, Round 2 improves upon the series while actually expanding the genre. While the punches lack the power experienced in last years game, EA makes up for it with its innovative total control configuration. Depending on your skill level and your ability to grasp the new controls (if you chose to use them) you may find that Round 2 provides hours of entertainment. The flaws in the game are purely cosmetic and easily overlooked as they have no bearing on performance. Round 2 definitely delivers a knockout punch to the competition. Wait a sec. What competition?

Preview By Chris

This just in: Nintendo and EA team up once again and give Cube owners a little something extra. First we announced that Mario, Luigi and Peach would appear in the latest NBA Street and now Little Mac from Super Punch Out will show up as an exclusive Cube only unlockable character in Fight Night Round 2. Don't remember Little Mac or Super Punch Out? That's him to the right. Check out below for the odd 3D rendition of Little Mac. He looks kooky but we're definitely liking the little extras Nintendo and EA have been tossing in lately. Let's hope for more of this cool crossover stuff.

Last Year EA revamped their Boxing title and improved the overall game.
Now EA is getting to release the newest version of Fight Night. While it has some impressive features players hoping there would be an online mode will be out of luck. I guess EA decided that Boxing fans do not really need this mode? I personally think this was a huge mistake on EA's part since Boxing is not as huge of a sport for video games. The online feature would have increased EA's sales and may have brought new players to the game. Now I will say that EA has made some impressive changes over the past 2 years in their boxing title. It looks like this year the new feature will be a real "Cut man" available in the boxers corner. The new feature will allow players to stop swelling fix cuts and go on fighting where other wise this would be impossible.

It's no secret that EA has been over a microscope since the news of the NFL and ESPN buy out. I think gamers are going to be very picky in their decision to buy any EA sports game. So EA wants to make the best of every new game coming out. Okay-So EA decided to opt out on the online mode. They have focused on the graphics and sound to make the game realistic looking.

I can only hope they worked on the hit engine this year the last few games seemed to have problems when it came to certain punches landing in a realistic way. It does look like the game has been revamped even over last year's version to add more of the realistic looks and feel the sport of boxing provides. EA is adding a Haymaker punch that can best be explained as a knockout punch that can't be stopped. The effect of this is supposed to be impressive and add to the game.

New sounds have been added to recreate being in a real ring each hit will be thunderous and bring more realistic feel to the game. Players can expect boxing legends and new comers tucked away in the game. EA has also revamped and tweaked the overall controls and adjusted the games camera. This will provide gamers with more punches at there disposal and the games camera will provide the right angle at all times. Check out the screen shots and a list of game features. Fight Night is slated for a March release and on every console.

 

Press:

Get ready for the ultimate knockdown! EA Sports Fight Night Round 2 continues to deliver innovative gameplay via the analog Total Punch Control mechanic, allowing gamers to throw multiple punches, block, bob and weave with complete precision and control. Packing in more fearsome punches, players can now dominate the ring with the all-new EA Sports Haymaker allowing gamers to knock down their opponents with one devastating blow by adding extra power to each punch. Every hit counts in the game with powerful punches inflicting dynamic injuries on opponents, and thus reducing a fighter's ability to defend himself. Players will also manage the boxers inside and out of the ring. Utilizing the new EA Sports Cutman, gamers can minimize damage on their fighters by helping them heal critical wounds between rounds.

Features:

  • The EA Sports Haymaker: Unleash the power of the punch. One crushing blow will knock your opponent straight to the canvas, but miss and you're in trouble.
  • Total Boxing Control: You now have total control of your boxer with 360° Sticking and Moving and the ability to punch and block while dancing around the ring.
  • Create a Champ: Using the analog sticks for total precision, create and train the ultimate champion by transforming his skills and physique.
  • EA Sports Cut-Man: You take an active role in recovering from a beating by tending to a swollen eye in the corner between rounds.
  • Dynamic Punch Impacts: Each punch pays off with stunning visuals that reflect the effect of each blow. Your fists have never felt so powerful as injuries affect your fighting abilities-a swollen eye prevents you from blocking, and a broken rib impairs your punching ability and mobility.
Click For Media
System: X, PS2 & GC
Dev: EA Sports
Pub: EA Sports
Release: Mar 2005
Players: 1 - 2
Review By Vaughn
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4.5
GRAPHICS
4.0
CONTROL
5.0
MUSIC/FX
3.0
VALUE
4.0