Electronic Arts have done something rather brave for them, and that is take a game that’s very successful and completely change the control system. Luckily, it works very well and what we have here is probably the most complete boxing game ever made. First of all, there’s the rosta. There are tonnes of boxers in there from light, middle and heavy weight categories and for the first time since Punch Out – Mr Mike Tyson. They all look fantastic and you can even make your own characters using pictures or your webcam and take them online in a World Championship.
So, what’s new about the boxing? Well, every punch you throw is now done using gestures on the right analogue stick. Hooks, jabs and uppercuts can be performed and then you can modify your punches to include haymakers with the press of a shoulder button. Other shoulder buttons modify your left and right sticks for blocks, dodges and weaves. You can now also shove opponents and perform signature moves that do a lot of damage if they connect.
Legacy mode is the main single player experience you’ll have. You create a boxer or use an existing one with levelled stats, then train them and work your way from a bum to a boxing superstar using a calendar system to schedule fights and train. If you just want to fight in the ring you can auto train your boxer or go all out and train manually for a bigger gain. AI opponents can give you a run for your money but it is possible to just go all out with the same punch and be quite successful at getting their energy down. The main way to play though is to complete a successful block or dodge and then counter attack for a massive hit. Then it’s a case of hitting them until they eventually see stars and fall over.
Multiplayer is probably the most fun you’ll have though. Humans being predictable things they are, means that you can plan counters and employ a proper strategy against an opponent.
And taking a leaf out of UFC’s book, all the fighting is now fully physics-based, so punches bounce off gloves and sometimes get through to the face and everything feels meaty, especially when you get the signature slow-motion face breakers that show spit, blood and sweat flying through the air.
If you’re into boxing and you want the best boxing game, this one’s for you. Personally, I prefer UFC 2009 Undisputed because there’s the grappling system as well as punching and that’s why Fight Night Round 4 gets an excellent 8 out of 10.
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