I was impressed with Fight Night, I complained a lot but liked Fight Night 2 (I was told the reason there wasn’t clinching was because it was impossible to implement in a fun way) Fight Night Round 3 added clinching, and it was fun, and I liked the game. But Fight Night Round 4 is the best of the series and among the best fighting games ever made.
The key is legacy mode and, of course, multiplayer. Boxing, despite its violence, is a tactical sport. It’s about scoring, timing, observation and then all the physical aspects. The fact that most boxers come out of very poor neighborhoods makes it more compelling – and points to a real problem in society.
So, in legacy mode you can play as a young Tyson – or many others – or your own boxer. I gave myself the beard, I gave myself cool yellow and red shoes and gloves. I wear yellow trunks. I specialize in early match knockouts but have the stamina to go the distance. There’s a lot to learn and learning it is a lot of fun. Particularly if you know boxing – every strategy works like it should. The physics are amazing. It’s just a fun, a perfectly fun, simulation of the “sweet science.”
In an unprecedented move it’s also less violent than Round 3. Which is good, because Round 3 was ridiculous when it came to blood and mucus flying in slo-mo during a devastating punch. I miss seeing the damage I’ve wrought, or survived, but it’s a strange thing to see a series get LESS graphic as time goes on. It’s a good thing though, because it just makes the game more realistic.
Things are simplifed, but only things that needed to be more accessible. I don’t miss manually healing my boxer between rounds. I don’t miss the legacy mode from before.
In multiplayer, the game sings. It’s gorgeous, realistic and comes down to a real tactical and twitch fight between equally skilled players. You can handicap by letting, say, Mike Tyson whale on someone smaller, but this is a great way to help the odds when playing with kids.
The game is rated T-Teen, which sort of makes sense and sort of doesn’t. Boxing is violent but many of your grandparents used to watch Friday Night Fights every Friday night as kids. And this was in the 50’s/60’s. Does it being a sport make it better? Somehow it does. Even if your real goal is to punch somebody until they are unconscious. The upside is the realism, it shows how brutal a fight really is. Something television and the arenas of Street Fighter, Tekken and Virtua cannot seem to do very often.
I’ll agree with T-Teen but can see parents – even me with my kids – allowing 10+.