Fight Night Round 4 First Look

If you liked Fight Night Round 3, you won't believe what EA Sports has in store for the follow-up. Check out our first impressions right here.

You know how time has a way of making some older games look sort of silly in retrospect? Certain games, no matter how much you loved them in the past, just can't measure up to modern standards of gameplay, presentation, and so on. After seeing Fight Night Round 4 in action today during the EA Sports Season Opener in San Francsico, you can chalk up the series' previous incarnation, Fight Night Round 3, as another casualty in the battle against time. The new game is doing so many things right, has fixed so many problems from the previous Fight Night, and is running so much crisper that it makes its predecessor look practically antiquated. In other words, this is Fight Night, but it's definitely changing the game.

Iron Mike Tyson in his better days.

Don't get us wrong. At the time, Fight Night Round 3 was a revelation on the Xbox 360 (and later on the PS3). A graphical powerhouse, the game showed the capabilities of the next-gen console in a way few games had even attempted. And while at first glance Fight Night 4 isn't going to blow you away, if you pay attention to what's happening underneath the hood, it's clear that the new game is improving on practically every aspect of its predecessor.

The most crucial improvement is the game's brand-new physics engine. The sweet science is represented in a much more true-to-life manner in FN4, and that's most plainly seen where the fist meets the face. Every punch in FN4 is procedurally animated on the fly, meaning that punches are nearly as varied as you would find in a real boxing match.

Perhaps more importantly, where and how a punch lands are also procedural. So you'll see everything from full-on face crunchers, to semisolid shots, to glancing blows that barely make contact, much less do any damage. In addition, you're not just striking a dude in the face; depending on the angle of the two boxers to one another, the stiffness of the shot, and many other factors, punches will land on noses, chins, cheeks, foreheads, necks, shoulders, and (occasionally) the back of the head. Follow that up with a damage system that can put a cut exactly where it has developed on your opponent's face (and not just in some preassigned location), and you'll see boxers swell, cut, and bleed like they never have before.

In addition to having better punch location, the new physics system has resulted in much faster gameplay, in terms of both frame rate and the movement of the boxers. We watched as a virtual Muhammad Ali and a young Mike Tyson slugged it out in the middle of the ring, and the speed at which both boxers were throwing jabs, hooks, and uppercuts was in a completely different league from previous Fight Night games.

Going hand in hand with that increased speed are control tweaks that make combos much easier to execute in the ring. As producers demonstrated for us, both head and body shots can easily be thrown with the right stick alone. For instance, a straight jab is still thrown by flicking up on the right stick, with hooks and uppercuts executed by rolling the stick out and up. Body shots, on the other hand, take up the "lower half" of the right stick. So if you move the stick out to the left or right, you'll throw a left or right hook to the body. If you flick the stick to the "4" or "7" position, you'll throw body uppercuts. The only normal body shot that uses a modifier are body jabs, which are thrown by using the LT "duck" button and then a straight jab motion with the right stick. The tweaked system looks to make body/head combos easier to pull off, making your fighter a much more effective force in the ring.

Player movement has also been tweaked. The left stick still controls your boxer's movements around the ring, but if you flick left or right, or do a "hook" motion left or right, you'll be able to perform effective bobbing and weaving as you look to get inside your opponent. In fact, these kinds of tactics are especially effective for "inside" fighters like Tyson; as producers explained to us, the fighting system is sophisticated enough that you can execute one of Tyson's patented weaving dives toward an opponent and come up out of the crouch with a deadly uppercut.

Thanks to a new physics system, every punch in Fight Night 4 registers with face-crunching realism.

Another item of note: Inside fighting is possible in FN4. Unlike in the previous game, which had a strange invisible wall separating the fighters, you can get inside and really work your opponent, like the great inside fighters do. In fact, you'll have to, because the game's focus on realistic physics will force smaller guys to make up for their lack of reach with a powerful inside game, while taller, lankier fighters will want to work the jab--which actually looks like it hurts now--keeping their opponent at bay and making the most of their reach advantage.

Once you manage to peel your eyes from the meticulously rendered fighter models in FN4, you might notice a new HUD element--a trio of bars that represent each fighter's health, stamina, and blocking. While the health and stamina meters are self-explanatory, the blocking meter is new for the game and works in conjunction with your fighter's blocking ability (tied to the right trigger). As you hold the trigger, your blocking meter will decrease over time, and when your opponent punches you, it will decrease in larger chunks. Essentially this meter will prevent you from turtling all round, because if your blocking meter runs out, you won't be able to stop your opponent from landing a punch. This new blocking system replaces the awkward parry system from Fight Night 3, and while meters tend to go against the grain of the modern trend of relatively HUD-free games, it seems to be relatively unobtrusive. More to the point, it makes sense in the ring.

The between-round minigames of Fight Night 3, where you'd heal your wounds, aren't in FN4. Instead, you'll be able to spend points you've earned in a round (by doing things like knocking down your opponent, landing a good shot or two, or simply surviving to fight another three minutes) on replenishing your stamina, health, or blocking ability. In addition, you can bank points between rounds and spend them later in the fight. Visually, FN4 is hitting all the right notes, with amazingly detailed and articulated musculature and faces that bend and contort with every punch that lands flush. It isn't quite the visual revelation that the previous game was, but considering the speed this game moves at, and the amount of surrounding activity, including large crowds and realistic-looking environments, it's no less impressive upon close inspection.

With a combination of realistic fighting engine, tweaked controls, and deadly speed, the fourth Fight Night game looks to be upping the series' rep in a serious way. We can't wait to get our hands on the game to try it out for ourselves, as well as explore the other aspects of Fight Night Round 4's gameplay modes, including the new career mode. Stay tuned for much more on the game in the weeks leading up to its release in July.

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189 comments
Doolz2024
Doolz2024

@taylorh Mayweather is NOT going to be in the game.

Polizia_Unit_62
Polizia_Unit_62

Im really excited about this fignt night looks like they improved everything!

xabbu2323
xabbu2323

I'm stoked about this one as are most fans of boxing, video games, or having fun. However, where are the Klitschko bros????? Number one and two in the world and not in the roster (yet)?!! I want the Klitschko's, Marquez, James Kirkland,and Money Mayweather! Oh well, i'll just create them. I am very exited to see Augustus in the lineup!!! I hope his style is crazy like real life (drunken style). Can't wait till this comes out. See u all in the ring!

pilot_riaz
pilot_riaz

Notice the editor says realease in July at the end of the article. On top left by the picture it says June 26 2009

nwonknU
nwonknU

I'm definitely hyped for this one.

knuckleman07
knuckleman07

fight night 3 was good, but im hoping fight night 4 is good too.

devil-neva-cry
devil-neva-cry

taylorh725 on the FN4 forum someone posted a pic of an early build of mayweather so.......

stryker0310
stryker0310

I am looking forward to the speed FN4 will bring. Now weight-class won't be an issue anymore.

taylorh725
taylorh725

floyd mayweather, ricky hatton, manny, most of all floyd mayweather please please hav floyd mayweather

stryker0310
stryker0310

I loved FN3 but heard the series was over. I never understood those rumors and refused to believe them. I can't wait to play this one.

karlos008
karlos008

Can't wait 4 this game!!! PrizeFighter is rubbish worst boxing game ever. Hope Fight Night will restore my faith in boxing games!

Da_Skull_King
Da_Skull_King

i cant wait, i've loved the series since FN r2, i'm buying this day one

-Near-
-Near-

Career mode, your on deck

HershalCrusto
HershalCrusto

Fight night round 4 and UFC undisputed within a couple months, whats up with that no good realistic fight games for 2 or 3 years and now 2 very promising games within a couple months. It's madness, can't wait.

Deekyo
Deekyo

I'm very excited about this game. I liked round 2 but the ability to through haymakers without repercussions was a drag. Then round 3 came out and you couldn't do haymakers recklessly, but they took the realism out because it took at least 3 seconds to through a haymaker. Now we have realism there isn't a barrier when you get in close punches can land anywhere. No more predetermined shots you can through a punch but no telling where it will land. I heard that they re worked certain buttons. You can no do body blows without actually using the punch modifier. so that will be nice to see how that works out. I love the buzz and what i am hearing about this game but can it deliever we will find out this summer. deekyo

mikeesco
mikeesco

Finally a boxing game without the cheesy gimmicks and quirks were all tired of, glad fight night is going good, and looking good. EA is doin good here, they should have bought all these licenses instead of NFL, stop people from makin crappy boxing games, instead of blocking NFL games from being made. Bring back some 2K sports! need some variety. lol.

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

I really cant wait for this, its been a long time coming. Regarding Mayweather, he's a good fighter with a good history, therefore he should be included.

gman96
gman96

ZedX, how would the game be perfect if mayweather is left out. All of his peers in or around his weight-class want to fight him, from Marquez, Pacquiao, Mosley, and Cotto. They all have respect for him, why don't you. If you hate trash talkers, I don't see you saying anything about Ali, who is the greatest trash talker of all time. Mayweather needs to be in this, especially if he's coming back.

ZedX-14Pilot
ZedX-14Pilot

This game looks VERY promising. Now if they can just leave that mayweather clown out of it, it will be perfect. I HATE trash talkers. Ran his mouth the way he did to just BARELY beat De La Hoya.. what a chump! This is the only sports game I am truly looking forward to this year. This game is gonna PWN!

mike1146l
mike1146l

i HAVE to get a next gen console!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

roro22
roro22

this games sounds like its gonna be great, i still play FNR3 on the regular. cant wait for new boxers and the fact that you can hold you guard up all fight long sound good too

cocomacoco
cocomacoco

what a great comment on this EA game, hmmm.....

Decko5
Decko5

looking good jadefury27 you're dumb

jadefury27
jadefury27

lets hope they didn't "improve" this series in the same way they did the def jam games...it looks great i just hope the controls dont stray too far from what round 3 had.

bryandeth316
bryandeth316

Sounds good, can't wait to check it out. The fact that Mike Tyson is in it is enough for me.

rockatanski
rockatanski

Lol Deth walkr, yes! Can we block all these excellent and fun punches??

taylorh725
taylorh725

please please please please hav floyd mayweather the best pound for pound boxer ever

shenron43
shenron43

Just what I was hoping to hear :0 Can't wait to get my hands on it.

NorwegianFenian
NorwegianFenian

I seriously hope Joe Calzaghe is in FN4. One of, if not THE, best middle weight of his generation.

Cicatraz_ESP
Cicatraz_ESP

This game is going to rule. Glad they got back to making Fight Night instead of stupid, crappy Facebreaker.

thejingoman
thejingoman

@themoneyshot. grow up!!! and learn to spell ha ha

lilkray2thebone
lilkray2thebone

Why havent they added Julio Cesar Chavez,, one of the Greatest Fighers

jmeads
jmeads

the game looks great i think its a must buy hopefully it has more people like floyd mayweather i'll make the big show and let them have it out lol

TheMoneyShot13
TheMoneyShot13

o yea those are in-game shot's we are talking about the 360 hear, not the ps3 with killzone 2 haha

cell_100
cell_100

i never really got into boxing so i dnt know much about it but i brought round 3 was brilliant, so ill probs pick this up too, lookin very good :)

diabloakaSAHA
diabloakaSAHA

Is there going the FLoyd Mayweather this time ??

criegz
criegz

I've never been a fan of these, but this Fight Night definately looks like an immediate pickup. Ali Vs. Tyson? Sweeet.

paulguiang
paulguiang

i hope they include a wider variety of ring entrances, announcers like michael buffer/jimmy lennon, familiar commentators, true to life arenas and of course a long list of fighters...iron mike and floyd mayweather were not included in FN3 which kinda sucks...

jmvallejo
jmvallejo

Looks amazing, i think i'll buy it :D

maaly81
maaly81

this is a must buy. and the time they have had to work on it, i hope it lives up to expectations.....and FINALLY IRON MIKE IS IN THE GAME!!!

jcouch2020
jcouch2020

please make the achievments as easy as fight night rd 3

usglenn
usglenn

This game is going to be great but they need to put Mills Lane and Michael Buffer on this. Also Lennox Lewis needs to be on here that is a must after those good fights with Tyson and maybe Buster Douglas LOL

ProVail
ProVail

Can you bite peoples ears with Mike Tyson? lol I hope u can create ur on character like b4 and this time they add some new stuff so u can make ur character look like u as much as possible...OH an create ur own tattoos MUHAHAHAHA