When Fight Night Round 3 was released, it was clearly one of the most gorgeous games for the current console generation, and amongst the royalty of pugilist games. The popular game series' newest addition, Fight Night Round 4, hits the shelves like a thousand Mike Tysons, and knocks your teeth out with one single haymaker.
EA Canada's latest has pretty much the same basics as the third iteration of the series. The type of blow you're throwing is determined by how you roll the controller's stick. For example, a straightforward punch to the kisser is done with a simple lateral move, whereas a powerful haymaker requires first a downward push, then a roll up. Pretty logical when you get the idea. Blocks and dodges are executed with a button and the desired direction. After a while, this kind of control mechanism reveals its complexity, and making different combinations of powerful blows isn't that far off. Veterans of the previous game are immediately at home, and even newcomers learn the way of the exploding fist very quickly.
The importance of blocks and dodges has been emphasized. A well-timed block is rewarded with an opening in the opponent's defences, and a skilled pugilist immediately seizes the opportunity and knocks the other guy stupid. Counter punches is a more efficient way of demolishing your enemy, although a direct hit will drop a weakened fellow under almost any circumstance.
When you kiss the floor, getting back up requires some effort by moving the sticks. You have to get on your feet and then hold your balance, which gets harder ever time you're down for the count. Getting up the first time, however, is almost too easy.
There's quite a cavalcade of real life boxers in the game, and the dream battle between Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson is finally possible. On the delightfully lengthy list of boxers is even "Idi" Amin Asikainen, who is probably the most notable active Finnish boxer today. Amongst real boxers are a whole lot of randomly created opponents to keep the player happy and busy. The reformed career mode is indeed the salt of the game, and following your boxer's career is addictive, and not in a small way. Between matches you train your virtual self with different training programs, but the balance between the programs is somewhat skewed. Some programs give you maximum benefit after a few tries, where others mostly expand the player's own methods of coping with stress.
Graphics wise, Fight Night Round 4 is impressive, and especially replays from knock outs almost hurt in their realistic facial expressions and how the flesh gives way to fist. Even the boxers' boxers flap with more detail than ever, although keeping an eye on one's pants is probably not the most essential part of pugilism. in short, the graphics are stupendously gorgeous, and do justice to the iron strong core mechanism. The soundtrack is mainly hip hop oriented, with some more catching tunes as well as forgettables. The narration does its job, although almost every bout, no matter how tight and powerful, can't seem to make the narrators happy. The same phrases of dismay and discontent get old after only a few matches.
Fight Night Round 4 is superior in practically every way to its predecessors, and friends of realistic boxing who want the best find there's little doubt in what game to pick. If one is determined to find something to complain about, the AI sometimes lets the player prepare his most fearsome punch too easily. This, however, might also have something to do with the reviewer's skills and settings.