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Fight Night Round 4!

The critically acclaimed latest installment in one of the most popular Boxing game franchises of all time has finally arrived, but will FNR4 be able to become "The Greatest"?

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Strategy In A Boxing game: Fight Night Round 4 returns after more than a two-year hiatus, this time sporting a brand new developer (EA Canada) as well as a slight reboot of the series. EA Canada was quick to criticize everything about Fight Night Round 3 as soon as they were given the helm to the Fight Night franchise and insisted from day one that FNR4 would not be plagued with the same flaws and troubles that kept the last installment from true greatness.

The main aspects the Canadian developers focused on was the removal of the "Parry" system as well as revitalizing the series and the career mode, now titled "Legacy Mode" (more on that later).

The biggest thing you will see that is different from FNR3 in terms of gameplay is that bobbing, weaving, and dodging now dominate Round 4's bouts.

As EA Canada was quick to point out, most of Fight Night Round 3's fights ended up being essentially mindless slugfests that the more powerful fighter almost always had his hand raised in victory...that is of course, if the fight did not come down to Parrying every punch that your opponent threw.

This time around the fights feel much more realistic and lifelike and you can really feel like you have to employ some strategy, especially if you are overmatched. No longer can you do a Parry, punch, Parry, punch or simple come forward with no regards swinging for the fences.

To win the fight you either have to box your opponent's socks off (you can actually do that this time around!) or you will be forced to counter your opponent every chance you get.

A Counter Puncher's Game: The countering system in FNR4 is very similar to FNR3's in that you will employ tactics such as bobbing, moving your head as well as your feet to avoid or dodge your opponent's punch and then come back with your own. The only difference is that virtually every counter punch launched at you or your opponent does a bit too much damage.

Whether or not you have no stamina or your opponent has full health, if a punch is dodged and somebody gets clocked with a counter, for some reason nearly every time it happens the victim will be sent into a "stunned" mode where he is trying his best to stay on his feet.

It does not take long to learn how to counter virtually everyone who crosses you, even live opponents can be easily countered with some practice and skill and as soon as you become skilled in counter punching there is really no beating you.

This...exploit of some sort could well become a problem online as skilled counter punchers will simply lean back and when his opponent missed fire off a quick hook to send him into a stunned state.

On that note of the counters though, for some odd reason after your first two or three fights in the Legacy Mode, the only counters that do any damage are your opponents' shots. It is extremely easy to bounce massive amounts of punches off of your opponent's skull while you can be stunned with a single punch, sometimes with simply moronic blows such as a jab.

Size Matters: One of the other biggest gameplay aspects in FNR4 is the new founded ability to get on the inside when fighting as well as how size and reach can make a difference while fighting. In Round 3, the game seemed to have an odd barrier where you were unable to go chest-to-chest with your opponent. That barrier is now removed and you will now be able to work to your advantages on the inside.

You will be able to jump inside and begin your assault there. Smaller fighters such as Mike Tyson, Ricky Hatton and Jorge Arce will be at home on the inside and will have better, more powerful hooks and uppercuts then boxers. Boxers will be on the opposite side, working with more powerful straight punches and the jab to secure the victory.

The opposing style differences in the game add a nice dimension of realism into the gameplay and will often play a role at some point during your fights.

Building A Legacy: The career mode of FNR3 has gotten a massive overhaul and has even been slapped with a new name: Legacy Mode.

In the Legacy Mode you will start out by either creating a new fighter from scratch or rebuilding the career of a name fighter (Tyson etc.) on the road to being deemed "The Greatest of All-Time".

The Create-a-Fighter (CAF) aspect of the Legacy Mode is, in a word, lacking. As soon as you begin, you will have to choose a pre-made head for your pugilist from a variety of 87, though that number is very deceiving. In reality, there are only a handful of different heads to choose from.

In addition to your head, you will also be tasked with choosing gloves, trunks, ropes, shoes and colors for all of it. Although the facial features aspect of the CAF mode is disappointing, you are able to create the kind of visual things that you wish in the form of what your Boxer wears.

When you're done shaping your soon-to-be legend, you will be thrown into a career mode that is not unlike the one featured in UFC 2009: Undisputed.

You will use a calendar to map out your career, schedule fights and train. Nothing much more as far as the calendar goes, but depending on your progress as an up and coming fighter you will eventually be able to challenge big names in your division and ultimately battle for the title.

The Legacy Mode is very enjoyable, but at times can be a bit easy with how much you are able to hit some of your opponents. Of course, that does not mean that you are going to score the KO. After your first couple of fights in the Legacy Mode, virtually all of the opponents you face will be able to absorb rounds upon rounds of constant pressure and landed punches without any damage being done.

Their health remains essentially full, their stamina is barely influenced, they take little to no Damage and whether or not they have been dominating for the extent of the bout, when they counter you with one of their punches you are most always fighting to keep yourself off the canvas.

It does seem that at times the fights you engage in are a little inconsistent, with you either dominating for the entire fight and knocking them out easily, getting plowed unexpectedly or controlling your opponent only to get knocked down with a counter jab.

For the most part though, Legacy Mode is a very great experience and a big step up from previous career modes in the Fight Night franchise.

What Happened To You: While EA Canada did do a very good job on the gameplay mechanics, they did fail, spectacularly, in one area of the game: the fighter models!

The visuals and graphics in Round 4 are incredible and are only matched by UFC 2009: Undisputed for fighting games, the actual models of the Boxers featured in the game are mostly horrendous.

The faces are misshapen, too general (may look like your neighbor) or just plain wrong at times. For some reason EA Canada just did not know how to make essentially any of the fighters look like their real-life counterparts.

In addition to those rather small issues, there is also some errors that just don't make sense. Why are you able to fight in the Middleweight division (160lb limit) but weigh 147lbs? Why is Jermain Taylor listed as a Light Heavyweight, when he has never fought there in his career? Minor quibbles, but noteworthy, particularly to boxing fans.

Rent vs. Buy: Overall Fight Night Round 4 is a very great game that one-ups everything Round 3 was. EA Canada did a phenomenal job with the franchise and there is no doubt that they will be able to take the FN series to new heights.

The amazing graphics, physics and effects in addition to the outstanding Legacy Mode and revamped gameplay make FNR4 a must-buy for any fan of the series, or any fan of Boxing.

Report Card

The amazing graphics, physics and effects in addition to the outstanding Legacy Mode and revamped gameplay make FNR4 a must-buy for any fan of the series, or any fan of Boxing. (Krakrabbit.com)


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