Up until about 1 month ago, every time my younger brother would come over we would do our ritual fight of Muhammad Ali vs Joe Frazier in Fight Night Round 3 (FNR3). There was something about FNR3 that really captivated its audience. For me it was always the combination of the breathtaking visuals and the ultra realism in the boxing. FNR3 was also one of the first and only demos to really sell me on a game. With all of this being said this just leads me to introduce its successor a game that has been hyped both by fans and EA as the next big step forward for the series. The game is Fight Night Round 4 and we are checking it out on the Xbox 360. Does the game have what it takes to win the fight? Read our full review to find out!
The pressure on the developers to come up big in Fight Night Round 4 was clear from the moment it was announced. There was such a huge following to the original game that the developers new they had a lot riding on its successor. So to make sure to keep its fan base happy but still make a great game the developers decided to keep a lot of the amazing elements in FNR3 in FNR4. The big change for FNR4 comes in the way of controls and boxing mechanics which has had a major overhaul since the last game.
The big push for FNR4 is the new physics based engine that is completely new to this game. Much of FNR3 was based upon timing and just throwing wildly at your opponents until someone went down. This is not the case in FNR4 as much of the game is about using your strengths, countering your opponents misfires and taking advantage of height and reach. The controls are a huge compliment to this new scheme as they have gotten rid of all face button based boxing and gone strictly to the Total Punch controls. This was a huge blow to me at first as I was strictly a face button user in FNR3, but after a while I caved in and just learned the new control scheme. I can say that the Total Punch Controls make a lot more sense in this game rather then in FNR3, and do seem rather effective after you have mastered their methods.
The main mode for Fight Night Round 4 is the legacy mode and it is in this mode that you get to take your boxer through the ranks in the hopes of becoming the best of all time. You can either create a boxer using the tools given or you can use the photo game face to put yourself in the game. I gave the photo game face a whirl and it worked not as well as I had it work in Tiger Woods games in the past, but it works. I actually did prefer creating using the tools, but the option is there. From there you are off to try to manage your way through the ranks. Between each fight you will have training to do, the training sessions are a lot different from FNR3, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. The training was extremely difficult, there were some that were harder then others, but I found the training to be far to frustrating for my taste. I ended up just auto-training and taking 50% of the points for training.
Once you get through the training, it is on to the fights. The early fights are rather slow, a little unremarkable, but things ramp up as quickly as you start going through the ranks. The higher you get up in ranks the more competitive and the more exciting the fights become. You really will develop skills and actually be required to use your skills to win your fights. The legacy mode could have used more depth, it needed more of a purpose whether that was story, or just more interaction with all of the things that go into being a fighter. The legacy mode is good don’t get me wrong, it just needs a little more direction then what it has.
The online play is good, its not spectacular, but it does what it needs to. I was happy to see that the developers expanded the game from being just a quick unranked match and ranked match type of game. All in Fight Night Round 4 has all of the needed upgrades to make for an excellent experience. The game has improved so much in terms of strategy, and the amazing physics based gameplay that I think fans of past games are going to be thrilled with the great gameplay experience of Fight Night Round 4.
It’s hard not to marvel at the beauty that is Fight Night Round 4. Let’s be honest Fight Night Round 3 really ushered in the next generation of gaming. Fight Night Round 4 takes this game to the next level. There is no longer any clipping, no invisible shield stopping you from getting inside, and all in all this game feels more like a true boxing experience. The style of this game has changed a bit and I think some may be a bit put off at first, but this is the type of game that the more you play the more you really enjoy the visual prowess that is Fight Night Round 4.
Similar to FNR3, FNR4 is the type of game that once you get all of the use you think you can get out of it, there is more to come from the game. This is the type of game that is actually just as good with friends as it is by yourself. I wish I could report that the Legacy Mode was perfect, but its not. I wish I could say FNR4 has the most robust online offering ever for a sports game, but it does not. What I can say is Fight Night Round 4 offers one of the most enjoyable experiences I have had with a sports game this year.
I am happy to report that Fight Night Round 4 is the complete package. The game has improved in every area, and has even gone as far as exceeding expectations in terms of the improvements in the gameplay. If you are a fan of boxing, or of the series, you would be crazy not to go out and purchase this game.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.