|Fight Night 2004 (2006)
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Available for: PlayStation 2, Xbox
Boasting the innovative Total Punch Control system, “Fight Night 2004” from EA Sports gives gamers a more advanced ring experience. Instead of aimlessly pounding on random buttons, hoping to land a couple effective blows, this Total Punch Control system allows you to throw any type of punch from any angle in any combination by using the two analog joysticks to control punches, counterpunches, blocks and body movement.
Now, that sounds great and all…but it’s also a tricky thing to get used to. Quick thumbs was all you needed to beat just about every boxing game before “Fight Night 2004” – hit the uppercut and cross buttons fast enough, and at the right moment, and you were bound to send your opponent to the canvas. But with this Total Punch Control system, EA Sports forces players to take a more systematic approach to the ring, pulling down on the right analog stick and swinging it around to the right to unleash a thunderous uppercut when your opponent is unprotected. One false move, though, and you’ll end up throwing a cross instead of the intended uppercut. In short, “Fight Night” requires more skill than most of its contemporaries, but it also grants more freedom inside the virtual ropes as you can duck, bob and weave to avoid incoming punches while also better positioning yourself for your own counterattack.
Because I had access to a “Fight Night 2004” demo disc and not the full version, I was only able to test drive the Total Punch Control system for two rounds at a time; therefore, this review is incomplete. Still, it’s safe to assume that this game is going to be a hit. The graphics are sensational, with slow-motion replays so amazingly detailed you’ll want to pause the game so you can wipe the sweat and blood off your television screen. While mastering this revolutionary technique will certainly take some practice, gamers can still throw basic jabs and crosses with the push of a button; pulling off some of the more complicated maneuvers requires more skill, however. Promising a deep career mode, 32 real-life boxers and “realistic boxing violence,” “Fight Night 2004” looks and plays like a true heavyweight contender.