Review by grandel

Reviewed: 04/08/04 | Updated: 05/15/04

The good The bad and The ugly of Fight Night

THE GOOD:

-The pace. EA nailed it this year unlike in 2002. The problem with that game was that stamina meter didn't really seem to have an effect on how many punches you threw. And my biggest worry with fight night was that if setting the game to the highest difficulty would just mean that the CPU becomes chaotic and decides to throw nonstop flurries. That isn't the case anymore. Defense and offense are balanced out because of stamina now. If you trade punches with him and land more then he does, he'll back off and wait to counter. The CPU also knows when you're playing possum and when you're really in trouble.

-The control is great. Mix it up with the face buttons (config 5) and you got an almost perfect simulation of boxing in terms of control. Blocking is easily as assessable as the sway too. The controller vibration warning when not using a HUD is also a nice touch. It doesn't just start vibrating right when you're about to go down and you hear the heart beat sound. It lightly vibrates way before giving you a warning before its too late.

-The swing camera is a great view. I need to be able to see lateral movement and I feel this is the only camera that is able to show me that. Another benefit of the swing camera is that you can lean against the ropes with ease. With the ringside and ref cams it feels like the ropes are too resistant.

-The ability to throw body punches just by pressing the left shoulder button is an absolutely fantastic idea. You don't have to duck and punch every time now.

-The trainer giving you advise during and in between rounds is also a very cool feature. The sound effects are second to none too. Boxers grunt, the crowd reacts, trainers bark, like no other game.

-The graphics look great. Fighters are life like. Real boxers are spitting images. Sweat drips. Facial damage is severe. The crowd isn't the best but you see individual movements, which is a nice touch. One really nice touch is the way the trunks look on the boxers. They are physics based.

-The fact that you can create real life boxers that the game is missing and let the CPU control them during your career is one of the best features this game has to offer.

The BAD:

-The CAB is limited (not enough hairstyles, not enough options to blend colors). My guy has black hair and a black beard, only that those 2 colors of black don't even match each other. Not good. There isn't enough body types (only 3). Not enough boxing styles (only 3).

-Venues are limited. Camera options are limited. There aren't enough difficulty options. I've had the game for a week now and I'm already playing on hard. Also the mini training games are dull compared to Rocky's mini games.

-I wouldn't have minded Big Tiger if they only made him wear a tux when announcing the fight. Having him announce the fighters wearing a football jersey looks absolutely idiotic in my opinion. And the fact that he has to tell you who he thinks won the round every time is really distracting.

-I don't have underage kids in the house and I still feel that the bleeding is a bit over the top.

-There is no momentum factor (i.e. a guy sidestepping into my left hook should feel the effect of the added force).

-The AI of the generated boxers is questionable. The problem with this where some reviews talked about that they have only two basic strategies (fight or flight), is that if you are looking for a knockdown, the guy will run and continue running unless you make him come to you. So in reality when he's in flight mode, he's just reacting to you trying to finish it. At least that is what I've noticed. I've had several fights already where my opponents would be retreating in an almost circular pattern unless I tried to cut him off or back off entirely. So it might not really be a bad thing if what it is, is that you're the one always bringing only 1 basic strategy to the ring. But still, with the lack of difficulty I can see how this is going to be a problem in the long run.

-Some attributes of the real fighters are way off. Chris Byrd's speed shouldn't be faster then most of the lightweights, in fact I don't think it should be at max, but it is.

-You hear the CPU's heart beat right when he's about to get knocked down . This should have been turned off because it confuses the hell out of you when the two of you are hurt at the same time.

THE UGLY:

-The career mode is very simplistic without a calendar and lack of realistic features. Every time you start a career you have to unlock everything again. In other words you can't keep the unlocked items outside of your career. Your boxer's stats don't deteriorate over the years. And where are the 2 different trainers and 2 different cut-men that the career mode was supposed to have?

-Turning off Big Tiger also turns off the ability to hear your trainer's advise. Nice one EA. Music isn't even ''diverse'' as promised and there are no custom soundtracks.

-Once again EA totally disregards the significance of the lower body in the sport of boxing. Footwork is generally the same with everyone. There's a slight noticeable difference in ring movement between a featherweight and heavyweight when you match them up but it isn't much of a difference because the attribute ''speed'' is an average. It needs to be broken down into foot speed and hand speed in order to fully incorporate the advantages of footwork and lateral movement over other boxers. There's also a lack of variety in footwork as the boxers don't bounce or skip around. The quickstep is also too tight, almost making it useless. This relates directly to the lack of clinching in the game. The CPU likes to go on the retreat a lot when its hurt. Since the speed at which you're moving your feet isn't hindered when you're hurt, it makes escape all too easy for both you and the CPU. Programming clinching into your defensive options and implementing foot speed into your stamina would have balanced this out.

-How come this game doesn't have the lunging punches and the ability to step in with a punch that Knockout Kings 2001 had? Not having these moves practically takes the strategy of measuring distance away from the game. In other words, fighting from the outside isn't really represented well in Fight Night.

-Where is the tale of the tape? And why can't we select our boxer's REACH? There isn't even a reach stat to see who has that advantage. Not every person who has the same height, has the same reach, EA. This is another reason why fighting from the outside isn't represented well in this game. You can try to fool yourself into thinking you can effectively establish the jab in Fight Night but the fact is, EA completely scrapped the ability to do that in their version of the sport in order to fully incorporate their analog control scheme. I hope they do something about this next year.

-And lastly, what the hell happened to Muhammad Ali? Black Ops, the developers of Knockout Kings 2001 recreated him almost perfectly. They even gave him his own set of animations. Fight Night's Ali doesn't even come close. He doesn't even have the proper taunt. The shuffle…hello?

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These are my opinions of the game. Take them with a grain of salt. I'm probably going to get sick of fight night's career mode though because of its lifeless structure but not if the in-ring action keeps calling me back. I guess time will tell as they say. So in spite of all the nitpicking I've done, I still think the game deserves a solid 7 out of 10. But as you can see, there is definite room for improvement. Besides, boxing isn't new to EA.


Rating:   3.5 - Good

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