Review by werdnas

Reviewed: 04/12/04

Brilliant albeit with some fixable flaws

With Fight Night 2004 EA Sports sought to inject some much needed realism into the world of video game boxing. In the process they created a great game but not a perfect one. Fight Night has some noticable flaws but the good news is that they can be fixed nor are they too crippling. My review will not look at the components of the game (others have done that) but rather will highlight what I feel are the biggests strengths and weaknesses of the game.

Strengths:
REALIST LOOKING FIGHTERS: A simple idea but a failure of too many boxing games. In FN the fighters look like their real life counter parts. The fighting styles in the game also match real life counter parts. This is nice as it makes it infinitely harder to fight an unrealistic style (ie. try standing toe to toe with Joe Frasier as Ali. VERY HARD). Also nice is the fact that a fighter's face can turn bruised and bloodied during a fight.

REALISTIC BOXING: Another simple point that is too often overlooked in boxing games. In FN you have to use boxing strategy. For instance, you cannot simply stand in front of guys. Not only will they pummel you but you will get tired and unlike Knockout Kings where the fatigue meter really meant nothing, in this game it means alot. Your punches will have little effect and in fact the will be easily blocked and countered if you simply try to throw 1000 punches. Also, you better get used to blocking or ducking, because you will need it here. you can't just stand toe to toe this time around.

LONG SEASON: This is the best part. A season does not end when you win the belt. It goes 20 years with about 4 fights/year. This is nice. You can also train for fights and book fights. This is neat but could be expanded.

TOTAL CONTROL PUNCHING: In FN you can use the right analogue stick as an extension of your fighter's fists. It is a nice innovative system. I find that it acts as a check on one's tendancy to try and mash buttons at times. Because it takes longer to toggle the stick than it does to push the X button, it is no longer possible to throw 4 jabs within 2 seconds. Moreover, you can use total control to duck and weave and block punches. It sounds complex but it is quite nice and adds to the realism of the game. Finally we have a boxing game where if you see your opponent coiming with an overhand right you can duck and punish him with a left uppercut to the body as he swings over your ducked body. NICE TOUCH.

GREAT CREATE A BOXER: The create a boxer section is very good. You can shape your face and hair to make your fighter look just like you. I liked this alot.

ONLINE PLAY: nuff said. If you have used other EA titles online you know what this is about.

Weaknesses:
SOUND: Sound is a mixed bag. The boxing sounds are good but the announcing is horrible. Big Tigger is the anouncer and he is sooooooo bad. One quote should serve as an example: ''if he gets up he's the champ, if he doesn't he's a chump.'' Here's what I don't understand. EA was going for realism in this game and yet it chose the most unrealistic announcer of all time!!!

STUPID KNOCKDOWN SEQUENCES: This was a much hearalded feature of the game and it came up very short. While it is nice that fighters fall based on how they were hit and by what punch there are some issues here. First, you can still punch guys while they are falling and sometimes while they are on their knees. Go ask Roy Jones what happens when you do this in real life (he suffered his only loss by DQ when he did this). Fun? YES REALISTIC? NO!!! Second, when the fighters fall they start doing some sort of seizure and always land in the same way. I won't say how (to avoid censors) but if you play you will know what I mean. Third, fighters always fall as if they just got hit by a truck. Even if you just hit someone with a jab they go into their seizure and fall down.

DIFFICULTY ISSUES: Hard is very hard (which is very good don't get me wrong) but medium is way to easy. When I first got this game I started career mode with a made up fighter and didn't adjust my stats (just took default starting values). On hard mode I got rocked so I figured I would switch to medium to learn the basics then switch back to hard. This didn't help as I killed everyone in medium. In medium mode you will win every fight by KO within 4 rounds. Medium should be harder than this to prepare ppl for hard mode.

All in all a great game. EA just needs to iron out a few wrinkles and it would be even better. But this game definitely innovative and thus I would highly recommend it.

Rent or Buy? I would always say rent first but that is a personal preference. I bought it right away.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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