- Buy the Game
Reviewed by Jason Thompson
oxing-based video games are always a giant crap shoot. Many gamers enjoy the arcade-like button mashing fun that has been a staple of the genre ever since “Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!” debuted on the NES in the ‘80s. Then there is the other camp of gamers who want realism, to be able to control their boxer in every way imaginable and to feel as if they were in the ring themselves. But what about the third type of gamer who might like a little bit of both worlds? Well, that’s been relatively hard to come by until now.
“Fight Night Round 4” may be the best boxing simulation ever created. The learning curve is rather easy, allowing arcade gamers to jump right in with little difficulty. On the other hand, enough technique is required to keep the hardcore sim fans happy as well. Mind you, the game isn’t all about technique, but the game is much more than just button mashing, especially when you get further into it.
And to get further into it, gamers will have to partake in the Legacy Mode where they can choose a boxer they’ve created themselves (or downloaded), or choose from such greats as Ali, Foreman, and even Tyson himself. You’ll start off in the dingiest of gyms sparring against pushover fighters. Eventually, you’ll work your way up into the big arenas and Pay-Per-View matches hosted on ESPN. Along the way, you’ll train your boxer to achieve maximum success, which will then boost him up the career ladder to being the “Greatest of All Time.”
Getting back to the idea that success in this game isn’t all about technique also falls upon the sort of boxer you may choose to create. Will he be an orthodox fighter or a southpaw? Will he be a brawler or a textbook character? Will he train more to achieve more powerful punches or will he instead opt for speed and stamina? It’s all up to the player. Each and every aspect is right here, and what’s more, it isn’t hard to learn or partake in. With some sports titles, the training can be a hassle, and the characters you create can often wind up less than worthy. But here, everything is ironed out perfectly, allowing even the greenest of players entry into a truly exciting game.
The player models are absolutely gorgeous, looking so much like the real thing that at times you could swear that you were controlling actual boxers. Player control is also easy, with the right analog stick controlling the punches and the left stick controlling movement, while blocks and other defenses are controlled by the trigger buttons. Feeling like you’re backed into a corner? Then simply push your opponent to get some space, or even try for an illegal headbutt. Everything that you could do in a real boxing ring you can do here.
There’s something seriously addictive about this title from top to bottom. It’s the rush of adrenaline when you successfully lay out your opponent on the mat; it’s the excellent color commentary that is both entertaining and provides actual insight into the sport of boxing; it’s the need to fight “just one more” when you find yourself KO’d. It’s all these things and more. It’s seriously hard to find anything wrong with this game.
In addition to the excellent Legacy Mode, players can just opt for single matches, take their fights online, and even upload their best instant replay moments which they can then edit with a rather deep, in-game video editor. There’s so much to enjoy here that you may find yourself without enough time to enjoy it all if you become fascinated with Legacy Mode like I did. The simple truth is that “Fight Night Round 4” is the best boxing game you’ll play all year, if not ever. Everything else pales in comparison. Don King should just take his own video game series and call it a day. This is sports video gaming perfection.