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Sunday | December 11, 2016
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Fight Night Round 4 (X360 & Ps3)

Fight Night Round 4 (X360 & Ps3)

 

A while ago we had an early look at Fight Night Round 4 and at the time it was showing a lot of promise due to many subtle changes to the game play. EA Canada have taken over coding duties from EA Chicago and today we see if this much awaited title is worth your hard earned cash.

I will get the conclusion out of the way quickly – Fight Night Round 4 is an awesome game. The boxing action is better than ever before and the movement of the fighters is perfectly paired with the wonderful damage model. A new physics engine takes centerstage and it is a coding tour de force with such dynamic movement that you would be forgiven for thinking you are watching a live broadcast on Cable TV.

When you first load FNR4 you are given a tutorial option which gets you immediately comfortable with the new moves and will be useful even for veterans as well as newbies to the franchise.

In regards to the combat – the uppercuts, hooks and punches are the same, however body punches can be achieved by a simple flick right or left on the right stick. Gamers are given new dodge moves which are utilised by rotating in semi circles either down to the right or down to the left and up to the left or up to the right. These mean you can get into close proximity with the other fighter while moving out of the way of their punches. The new controls are really good and are improved over FNR3’s implementation.

Other changes involve parrying as you rely more on blocking via a high and low mechanic which means you don’t have to worry about guarding specific areas. Scoring is based around how many punches hit their target and whether there were knockdowns. Healing between rounds is based on this and as an overall system it works reasonably well.

The biggest change is to the haymaker move – to pull one off you now hold down on the right shoulder button and whip a standard hook. This was an intentional design decision to ensure that the focus on the haymaker is not so pronounced in the new game – this is beneficial because more emphasis has been placed on the actual boxing, rather than pulling off mega moves to reduce your opponent to a stumbling shell of his former self. This time the focus is much more on counterattacking which I think is more realistic and intuitive. The game aids the counter attacking mechanic by utilising a little camera motion to signify when it is possible to initiate it. The AI is intelligent and adaptive and sometimes it can prove to be a very serious challenge as the computer rarely misses an opportunity to land blows. There are times however when the AI seems to drop the ball and you can defeat it easily by repeatedly launching the same attack to the same part of their body – this even happens on higher difficulty settings and in Legacy mode. While we are on the subject of Legacy mode there have been some improvements to last years.

Legacy mode has new training games and there are six in total now which prove to be very difficult early in your career. Double End Bag for instance are reliant on your boxers attributes and abilities and early in the career you will struggle to get a good result. Auto training works reasonably well and I found myself using this on a regular basis to counteract the difficult with a few of the training routines. The popularity system is good and there are also stats being tracked as soon as you step in the ring, right until you leave. The calendar system is great too and it lets you select your own dates for a fight which gives you control over the number of training sessions you have pre fight.

At the end of every calendar year boxers in each class will be awarded aspects like Fight Of The Year, Defender of the Year, Knockout of the Year and the only issue is really that the way these are handed out sometimes doesn’t make that much sense – you would need to spend a lot of time with the game to really understand what I mean.

The rivalry system has been fine tuned from FNR3 which ends up with a better experience as you are not given a rival immediately, but as the game progresses and you take part in great fights, then specific opponents will want rematches – much like we all see in real life. This is a great improvement from last year’s somewhat annoying implementation.

Photo GameFace is another feature added to FNR4 which we have discussed in other EA sports games before and it means you can personalise the boxer and take them online to share with your friends. You can adjust their boxing style, the best punch they deliver as well as aspects such as the dramatic entrance and a nickname. There are versions of many famous people online including a few tongue in cheek creations of Barack Obama.

World Championship mode is another new addition and it places everyone on an equal footing by making all their attributes equal as well as a ranking system for Lightweight, Middleweight and Heavyweight. It is hard to comment on the online aspects as very few people were online as I was reviewing the game, but I am positive this will improve when the game goes to retail in the next few days.

Graphically the game is stunning with all the features from PGR3 making it into the new version as well as a few refinements such as the muscle system which looks even better than last years. Facial impressions have undergone improvements as well and you notice boxers whince and snarl when they get hit or hit someone else. Both Ps3 and X360 versions run at a silky smooth 60 frames per second and there is no slowdown or clipping or other engine abnormalities. The developer should be really proud of the polished end product.

The sound is almost as impressive as the graphics with Teddy Atlas and Joe Tessitore handling the atmospheric commentary and the dialogue is both funny and entertaining. The sound effects are realistic and set the mood perfectly for such a high octane and aggressive sport.

Fight Night Round 4 is a fantastic game which will appeal to not only fans of the sport but to a wide section of gamers who like to sink their teeth into something satisfying and long term. It is one of my favourite games this year and without a doubt in my top 5 of all time sports games. One week of solid gaming and I still find great enjoyment from taking to the ring. Not only do you get a huge roster of boxers (over 50) but you can make your own and take them online to share with others. The boxing mechanics alone raise the bar and I can’t wait to see how EA manage to top this next year.

Gameplay
94

The best boxing game yet released. The mechanics alone are worth a purchase.
Graphics
97
A solid 60 frames per second with stunningly detailed boxers and environments. Both versions excel in all areas.
Sound
85
Strong ambience and great commentary. Effects are also great.
Value
88
Long term play with all the various modes as well as online options.
Overall
91

One you need to pick up this month !

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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