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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?