Fight Night Round 4 Review

Written by Joe Martin

July 4, 2009 | 09:48

Tags: #boxing #brawl #fighting #review #sports

Companies: #ea-sports

Ready to Rumble

Not only is the management side of the game incredibly boring and slow if you want to do it properly, it’s also massively repetitive and hindered by a clunky interface too. Each of the different training routines is represented by a different minigame and, while each of these is fun the first few times you do it the shine does wear off rather quickly. Managing your boxer rapidly becomes about as much fun as punching while wearing gloves full of broken glass and drenched in vinegar.

The kind-of good news though is that the training sections of the game can, like much of the game, be simulated and a result can be auto-generated for you if you don’t mind coping with a lazy-tax when it comes to training benefits. Conversely, it’s possible to play Fight Night Round 4 as a pure management game if that’s your wont and you can simulate outcomes to any fight as well.

The likelihood though is that you won’t want to do that – the actual fights are the centrepiece of the game and something that EA has gone to great lengths to faithfully create, even if they have shafted gamers somewhat when it comes to control schemes. There’s only one control option in Fight Night Round 4 and it’s the new ‘absolute control’ system, not the old button-based config that fans will be familiar with. Instead, the button-based system is said to return in a DLC pack later, for a cost.

Fight Night Round 4 Review Fight Night Round 4 - Final Round
Things we learned from Fight Night 4: Lennox Lewis hates mullets with a passion...

The new control system that’s been put in place is based around the right thumbstick and learning to swing it in a way that somewhat resembles the punch you want to throw. A rising right half-circle is a right uppercut for example, while a simple push to the upper left is a standard left jab. The system gets a lot more complex when you add in hooks and haymakers, but it’s mostly pretty simple. The same is true for hurting you opponents – head shots damage their health and can stun or KO them, while gut-punches diminish stamina and slow them down. If all else fails and you’re sure the referee isn’t looking then you can even slip in a quick headbutt if you want to really punish your foe.

While the absolute control system might be a bit unpopular with fans who’ve adjusted to the config used in previous games, it actually works pretty well and is a damned intuitive control scheme. It meshes perfectly with the flow of the game too and forces you to focus more on evaluating the reach and style of your opponents than just trying to unleash a massive fireball-combo, unlike most beat-em-ups.

Fight Night Round 4 Review Fight Night Round 4 - Final Round
...And George Foreman hates mullet-haters

The combination of all these different elements, along with the fact that rounds run in real-time and that players are given a chance to recuperate an amount of their health in between rounds, means that Fight Night Round 4 is actually a surprisingly tactical and tense beat-em-up. The fact that you might spend about twenty minutes fighting a single opponent before you even get close to the end-game means you have to resist the urge to button mash, especially at the higher levels where the AI opponent will block and counter-punch mercilessly.

Fight Night Round 4 Review Fight Night Round 4 - Final RoundUnfortunately though, it’s still hard to get away from some of the fundamental problems that mar the game – the worst of which is how repetitive it all is. Few of the fighters have what feels like a truly unique style, so the battles quickly feel very samey and, because the game has been somewhat dubiously balanced, the fights can run on for far too long. It’s possible to land hundreds of punches and haymakers on an opponent without knocking them down thanks to the ridiculously fast regeneration. Constantly being grappled by stunned opponents is a pain too as, while shoving them off isn’t hard, it does slow you down enough to stop you laying them low most of the time.

At the same time though, the strategic nature of Fight Night Round 4 and the gorgeous graphics win the game at least some notability, even if there isn’t quite enough replay value to win Fight Night a universal recommendation. It’s a good game on the whole, but it feels like there’s a bit of a disconnect between what EA is hoping to achieve with the management side of the game and the furious nature of boxing as a sport. At the end of the day, Fight Night Round 4 just doesn’t offer the longevity you’d hope for in a game that costs £40 and it’s unlikely most players will stick around for Legacy Mode’s final title fight.

Score Guide
Discuss this in the forums
YouTube logo
MSI MPG Velox 100R Chassis Review

October 14 2021 | 15:04