|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA Canada||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jun. 23, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
When timed correctly, just slightly before a punch lands, either leaning out of the way of a punch or blocking it will open up a split-second in which a player can land a counterpunch. These counterpunches do much more damage than a standard punch, can result in flash knockouts, and are the key to victory against the games more difficult opponents. If performed correctly, the screen will tilt slightly letting you know it is time to take a swing, with a satisfying light flash coinciding with a successful impact. Learning the intricacies of this technique is incredibly important not only because of the damage it provides but also to help save your stamina for later rounds, as opposed to punching yourself out against your opponents defenses.
During a match, there are three bars at the bottom of the screen that will let you know what kind of shape your boxer is in. Damage refers to cuts on your face and swelling, stamina displays how much oomph youre able to put behind your punches as well as the speed at which theyll fly, and health lets you know how close you are to being knocked out. Performing well in a round will net you points which can be used to improve your status in any or all of these areas between rounds. This is a more strategic, less time consuming, and much more palatable way of doing this as opposed to the endless eye rubbing from FNR3. Players can even choose to store their earned points for use between later rounds in order to catch a dramatic second wind, effectively gaining the upper hand later in the bout.
So, given the games beautiful graphics, fluid animation, and much improved combat system, its lasting appeal comes down to its multiplayer offerings and single-player Legacy Mode. The Legacy Mode is FNR4s version of FNR3s career mode in which you can choose from one of the over forty existing licensed boxers or create your own from scratch and take them through their career until you eventually need to retire from the sport. As one would expect, the create-a-boxer options are very robust, allowing meticulous gamers to move sliders about to change appearances and change the colors of just about everything. Although, if you find this to be too tedious, you can always just hook up a Xbox Vision Camera in order to directly capture your features for your custom boxer.
Once youre happy with your boxers look, youll start off as a bum, working your way up the ranks in order to hopefully become the greatest of all time. To advance up the ladder of ranks, players will need to schedule and win fights, train, and complete certain objectives. Scheduling fights is rather simple, just select a date on the calendar and challenge someone to a bout. After every match, youre boxer will need around a month or more of recuperation time as well as a small or large window in which to train, depending on how many training mini-games you wish to participate in. Far from the fairly non sequitur mini-games from FNR3, the six included mini-games here will actually revolve around necessary skills in the ring, effectively training you to play better while boosting your stats. Still, in order to move up in the world, youll need to fulfill certain objectives such as having a high enough winning percentage, have fought enough times, and defended your title for a sufficient number of fights. This mode is definitely deeper and more enjoyable than the previous titles, but it still would have been nice to have had some sort of story or out of the ring component to make it more involving.
However, if you want to take your chances against human opponents, FNR4s got you covered. Youre able to take the fight online in either ranked or unranked matches. Quick matches will pair you up against the first available opponent while you can also set certain time limits, weight divisions, and perhaps most importantly, disconnect ratings when creating a match. Correctly setting the last option will mostly keep you from running into those nefarious pugilists who yank their broadband cable at the first sign of defeat. There is also one more online mode which should keep players coming back the boxing ring. It is called Online World Championship, and it pits everyone in the worlds rankings against one another in order to crown an online world champion.
If youve somehow made it to this point in the review and youre still unsure if FNR4 is worth your money, then you may just be a lost cause. However, Ill continue to list off random things that are included in the game that you may not be aware of that may help you decide. FNR4 has commentary provided by Joe Tessitore and Teddy Atlas, which is quite good until it begins to repeat after twenty to thirty fights. Players can upload their created boxers for other people to use, and they can also use other peoples created boxers. You are able to capture the best portions of fights using the games instant replay, tweak camera angles and replay speeds, and also upload them for everyone to see. Music tracks can be imported into the game in order to have them play behind your characters introduction. There are even a host of ESPN related options that allow you to customize a ton of sports related news to check out. This allows for everything from audio updates to recent sports related information streaming across the bottom of the screen, which can also be made to be sport-specific if you wish.
Ive got to say if youre a fan of the previous Fight Night titles or even boxing in general, you really should pick up this title. FNR4 is the most realistic video game portrayal of the sweet science to date as well as being incredibly enjoyable to play. It has improved upon the previous Fight Nights in every way imaginable, even after the series switched developers from EA Chicago to EA Canada. But as you can tell, this new team definitely knew what they were doing, so make sure to break yourself away from UFC 2009 Undisputed long enough to check out Fight Night Round 4.
CCC Staff Contributor