Fight Night Round 4: Hands-On With the Demo

It's been a good week for the fight fans around GameSpot HQ. On Tuesday we had our GameSpot Community Game Night, featuring THQ's UFC 2009 Unleashed and today the demo for EA Sports' upcoming Fight Night Round 4 was released on Xbox Live. I also have preview code in my possession of...

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It's been a good week for the fight fans around GameSpot HQ. On Tuesday we had our GameSpot Community Game Night, featuring THQ's UFC 2009 Unleashed and today the demo for EA Sports' upcoming Fight Night Round 4 was released on Xbox Live. I also have preview code in my possession of Fight Night 4 but, due to embargoes, I won't be writing about the larger game until the week after E3.

The FN 4 demo, which comes in north of 700 MB, features a full tutorial (using Ricky Hatton and Manny Pacquiao) that gives you a basic run-through of the controls. From there, you can take play a three-round welterweight fight between Hatton and Pacquiao, which are the only fighters available in the demo. Interestingly, despite his reputation as perhaps the greatest pound-for-pound boxer in the business, Pacquaio is only rated an 85 overall (compared to an 81 overall for Hatton). The demo's sole fight venue is the Boardwalk Hall.

A few of observations after playing several fights in the demo:

Speed Kills
No doubt about it, Fight Night Round 4 is running at a crisp 60 frames per second; one toe-to-toe flurry of punches in the center of the ring will tell you that. When compared to UFC and, especially, Fight Night Round 3, FN4 plays like a different beast altogether, with punches flying faster than round 1 of Hearns vs. Hagler.

The development team's decision to move most of the punches to the right stick (including most body blows) makes up-and-down combinations a breeze and you'll be stacking together intricate four- and five-punch combos with relative ease. Still, the amount of toe-to-toe fighting is surprising--even when fighting against the AI, you'll spend a good deal of time standing up and slugging it out against your opponent, as opposed to moving around the ring.

Clinched Up
That said, the AI has its moments. If you're fighting as Pacquiao, your CPU opponent will look to make the most of Hatton's inside fighting skills; conversely, playing as Ricky Hatton, you'll be going up against a strong and fast Manny, whose skill can change the face of a fight in a heartbeat. In addition, when it's in trouble, the AI will be more apt to clinch you than I seem to remember from Fight Night Round 3, which can be especially frustrating when you know you've got your foe on the ropes.

Weaving a Masterpiece
The preponderance of toe-to-toe fighting I mentioned earlier is mitigated somewhat by two factors: punch power and the lean modifier. As for general punch power--while jabs and straights seem to be more effective than they were in Fight Night 3, there's a lot of blows that land in the game that don't seem to have much impact at all. Counter punches are the obvious exception--when you manage to duck or lean out of the way of a punch, you're gifted with a small window of time that you can land a heavy shot. Connect, and your opponent will rock backwards, and some subtle and effective camera shaking will add some heft to your counterpunch. Because of the power of counter punching, mastering the bob and weave seems to end up being more important than actually moving around the ring. Of course, bobbing and weaving doesn't do much against body shots and a smart fighter will work the body vigorously in order to mix things up.

Corner Game
The corner game, which replaces the silly cut/swelling management minigame from Fight Night Round 3, is an improvement. Here, you can spend points you've earned in the previous round in order to improve things like your stamina, health, and damage. You've got three levels to choose from for each category (small, medium, and large) and you can choose to skip the game altogether and bank your points for a later round if you wish, though that doesn't really make sense for the three-round demo fights. Still, point management looks to be a major point of strategy in the full game, especially with fights that go into late rounds.

Patience is a Virtue
Forget the knockout blow, especially in the three-round fights found in the demo. I haven't been able to KO either Pacquiao or Hatton yet, though I suspect that's more due to my crappy counterpunching than anything else. You can work in the occasional signature punch (by pressing the A button) or knock out punch (by holding the right bumper and throwing a punch as normal) but they're typically so telegraphed and slow that they're easy for your opponent to avoid.

--

Having spent so much time with UFC over the past few weeks, it's taken a bit of internal rewiring to get used to the controls of Fight Night 4. While the startling focus on toe-to-toe fighting is surprising at first I'm hoping that, as the skill of your opponents (both AI and otherwise) improves, the game's depth will blossom, just as it did with UFC.

Look for more on Fight Night Round 4, including information on the legacy mode during the week after E3. Be sure to send in any questions you have about the game, which I'll be able to answer once the final embargoes lift. Finally, check out the new screens and videos we posted of the Fight Night 4 demo and let me know what you think in the comments below.

Discussion

182 comments
intsaniac
intsaniac

I hate all these complaints! God! Cartoony? WTF? I looks freaking awesome! The graphics exeeds anything i have EVER seen! As far as buttons go, I did'nt play FNR3, so I really don't know, but from what I've heard, it sounds like all it brought was cheating. Now I respect that poeple got used to it, but seriously? You're whining like babys! The new control scheme is GREAT, can't you just take half an hour to get used to it before throwing the controller down and saying "wont buy it"? This game looks AMAZING, character creation, legacy mode, graphics, soundtrack, everything about this game is hyping me. I respect y'alls opinions, but please, give it a chance!

xtoda7
xtoda7

dude even with the quickest fighter its still slow.Have you even played either?? FNs gameplay is faster and more fun simple

Mr_Fujiv1
Mr_Fujiv1

i wouldnt say UFC lacks cause all you gotta do is add points to the speed of your fighter. i think that FNR4 is really good but in boxing you dont just stand in the middle of the ring and fight you move around and nearly every gameplay video i have seen both boxers just stand there and duck or puch.

xtoda7
xtoda7

This is a much quicker game then FN3. The fluidity of movement and stringing together combos on the fly makes for good times. It is exactly what UFC lacks,which now feels like a robot in comparison.

Static-Jak
Static-Jak

CONTINUED: 8. Foot Speed & Locomotion. Little bit faster overall, but also behaves much better changing directions and maintaining distance to opponent when moving laterally. 9. HUD & Settings. There is an option to turn off HUD in final game. Options to change camera too. Gameplay sliders to adjust power, damage, speed and CPU behaviors. 10. Miscellaneous Hatton has his new tattoos. Shane Mosley's name is spelled correctly. As mentioned previously, several of the boxers overall ratings have been updated/balanced. 11. Clinching is something that we've tweaked significantly since the demo. The probability of success is affected by stamina and distance, plus you aren't able to spam the button quite as much as you can in the demo. You can still tie the opponent up in the final version, but like a lot of other things, it takes timing. Otherwise, they will slip out of your grasp and clock you one. We made similar tweaks to the pushes as well. You can still do it, but it's not 100% effective if you are gassed or if the opponent isn't close enough. 12. Now we can set up multiple different ways the CPU acts with sliders. Ref foul awareness Ref damage awareness Boxer power Boxer speed Boxer physical damage Boxer toughness CPU offensive awareness CPU defensive awareness CPU punch output And don't forget the demo for all those was set to the bottom to make things easy to get used to the controls. It's all looking better and better.

Static-Jak
Static-Jak

List of changes from EA: 1. Stamina. Stamina loss is a little higher and stamina regeneration is a little slower. 2. Punch connections. Landed punch collisions are cleaner and hit reactions have more intensity. 3. Cuts and Swelling. The onset is very fast in the demo. In the final version, depending on your susceptibility to damage you find that you might have several fights without incurring any significant damage - but then when it does happen, it really affects the way your fight plays out between rounds. 4. Punch Animations. Tweaks on many punches occurred after the demo was out the door to address performance/technique issues. 5. Gameplay Audio. The mix in the demo is not great and we know that. Lots of audio work was done in the final 6-7 weeks and it sounds much better. 6. Counter Punch Window. The counter window is roughly the same length, maybe a little shorter in the final version. But we tuned how often you can open it up. They don't happen as often overall. 7. AI Difficulty & Exploits. The final weeks were spent heavily invested in finding AI exploits like the hook spamming, body punch spamming, haymaker spamming, etc. It's tightened up quite a bit. Difficulty on the demo is pretty low, but we did that on purpose so people wouldn't get annihilated their first few fights.

gobig4ever
gobig4ever

i'm confused how people can say graphically it looks good. I'm semi worried that graphically the demo is the finished product. It looks extremly cartoonish compared to FN 3. I played the demo skipped the tutorial and was having a decend time, but whether you like the stick controls or not, to please every gamer EA has to put in the option for button mashing. Even if your a hater think about FN 3, with i think the 3rd configuration you could use the buttons, but for me i would use the buttons for combos and the stick for haymakers, it was a nice blend for me to use both. Iron out the cartoon characters and it'll be a worthy buy. UFC for now.

stank08
stank08

This game is actually far better than RD3 . The new total punch control will take some getting used to though .

jusd
jusd

This is VERY cartoonie. I hope the PS3 version looks better. The body structures aren't even correct. Of course the cinema shots are good but what about gameplay?

rammsteingamer
rammsteingamer

Where is the realism ??? wow round 3 looks a lot better... cartoon graphics... gee guys cmon

aquaturtle007
aquaturtle007

i think it looks pretty good. The visuals need a touch of realism though. I watched the demo live online during, I think it was the Ubisoft conference, and it looked pretty good there I was impressed with the how the fighters take hits and the blood and bruising part on the fighters face

xSlugox
xSlugox

@BrianEk: I can see how most people when putting the game on for the first time, filled with that excitement of seeing it in action...finally, would see it as a slugfest, its faster than any boxing game, there's glancing blows, missed punches, lots of dodging, etc... maybe the game does a bad job of having too much stamina? I'm not sure... Maybe stamina doesn't play much of a factor in the demo because we're only given 3 rounds to play with? Who knows... But to say that there isn't much punching power? I don't know, it doesn't take very many counter punches to daze your opponent, 3-4 clean solid shots maybe, then its just a matter of time how quick you can land a few more blows to the body or head. So far, I'm impressed with this game and as if Seniors at GS aren't expecting a better career experience with FN over UFC, you know EA will do a way better job than THQ.

fuzzibluedude
fuzzibluedude

I have played the Demo like most people and im with teamkillah3. It looks far to much like a cartoon and FN3 looked far better, as for gameplay still not sure.... I hope this is a stunning game but I think its going to be a Flop.

garcia_jx
garcia_jx

The ufc game is awesome online, eventhough I'm 8 and 30. I'm sure this one would be good too.

teamkillah3
teamkillah3

fn3 loks better fn4 looks like a cartoon and boxing is dead mma is better

terraskwad
terraskwad

yeah, i hate the stick "total punch control" too i always use the 3rd config when playing round 3 (x and y jab/straight, a and b left & right hook). the game features mike tyson and we all know boxers had the option of delivering illegal blows. if mike tyson can bite people's ears off, this game is at the top of my games to buy list.

chuckd13
chuckd13

i am terrible using the stick to punch...does anyone know if you will have the option to be able to use the buttons to punch like in round 3? ...and joker268, i totally agree. if pretty boy floyd isnt in the game i dont know what to think...

jb1215
jb1215

Game looked good but I was disappointed. Blocking is horrible but I did like the weaving way better. I guess it sort of makes up for it. Uppercuts are too easy to connect with. It’s been brought down to simpler game play which sucks. UFC is more complex. You have to watch for everything, which brings the sense of a real fight. Its more exciting because there are different strategies for every aspect of the fight. It may be worth a rental but UFC has my purchase vote.

kvar7
kvar7

this or ufc?

Joker_268
Joker_268

is floyed mayweather on this, if not then they have lost the plot.

ZedX-14Pilot
ZedX-14Pilot

I have to agree with guys on here that the game looks to be a disappointment. The graphics are not as good as in FN3, and overall, the game just feels dumbed down from that version. I think the gameworld buzzword for that is 'accessible'. I'm all for bringing in more people to the greatness of Fight Night, but at the expense of what us loyal fans and players expect? No thanks EA. You dropped the ball on this one. Crappier graphics and cartoony game speed and physics. This one is now off my list of purchases for this year.

MajinDante
MajinDante

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

TimDigit
TimDigit

I stopped using analog sticks when I broke my last three controllers. My hands are too strong! : (

SidiousCyanide
SidiousCyanide

FNR3 was one of my favourite games and in my opinion only needed refining, after playing the demo of FNR4 I was crushingly disappointed, it runs unrealistically fast and the punches don't rock your opponent like they used to, in fact the whole thing feels more arcadey and less realistic than FNR3. The punch animations look really robotic too, reminded me of Rock'em Sock'em Robots... horrible, just horrible. I guess this is what happens when you have a completely new development team working on it. I can't imagine anyone who was a fan of FNR3 actually preferring FNR4, shame too because I was all hyped to buy it until I played the demo.

bgsnydermd
bgsnydermd

P.S.!!! This game reminds me of that stupid ficticious ROCKY game from the last Rocky movie. Super gay

bgsnydermd
bgsnydermd

I LOVED FN3 and I was real excited to play this demo. I lit some candles, turned on some nice music, put on my best sunday outfit, and sat down to play...and was totally dissapointed. It was an OK game but it lacked the excitement and energy that came from FN3. I got chills when you got an opponent close to KO and the announcer and crowd got into it. Now that feelings gone. Probably wont buy it. STICK WIGGLERS 4 LIFE!!!

griffinshotc
griffinshotc

Seems to me like having demos is a bad idea. Especially if it's not a good demo.

Tviper7
Tviper7

CptAsbjoern "I managed to KO Pacquiao in round 2 after having knocked him to the ground 2 times before that" I managed to do the same thing after I fine tuned my stick controls but I did with Pacquiao KD hattan 2 time 1st rd KO the 2nd All I got to say to to button mash winers screw you ea should leave it like it is they already removed alot skill involved by removing the parry system the its almost entirely offensive game now with button mashing all it becomes is a slugfest with no skill envolved.... dont change it

-prey-
-prey-

I have been able to KO either Pacquiao or Hatton. Even in the second round. :)

dilatedmuscle
dilatedmuscle

u was a noob and played every single previous fight night with the buttons LOL but this demo forced me to use the analog, breath of fresh air. difficult at first but i cannot stop playing the demo. it leaves me wanting more!!!! i have not played a demo this much since sonic adventure on dreamcast hahaha. cant wait for this game to come out! i lost the hype to this game but regained it after playing the demo

bebop001
bebop001

i actually like using the analog, so much better then button mashing, moves more fluently

tig1979
tig1979

Cant believe people are moaning about no buttons, it was done to stop button mashers, i prefer the stick anyway. Overall on playing the demo some things are better, like you can do better combos quicker, some things i think take a step back, like the meters, i preffered no meters and judging how screwed you were, still have on pre-order though and look forward to it

JowzXIII
JowzXIII

Lol is pacquaio the cover boy? wooo pinoy pride!! word up! ehem.. now to be professional yeah kinda terrible hope that demo is not what i think it is on the game.

rayaman11
rayaman11

whoa this demo is terrible i was really looking foward to this game but ill have to pass on it til i see the reviews for it so far looks like ill be sticking to ufc

valrim
valrim

Total Control punch works but with some problems, its not easy to throw hooks to the head especially difficult to chain together left hook to the head and rignt hook to the head (need practice alot but even after alot of practice there will be times when instead of the hook to the head u will throw body hook or maybe some other punches and i think it is a big minus for online matches).The same story with the uppercuts to the head.Other punches is very easy to make and link together ( jab, cross, body hooks and uppercuts) KO moment feels little bit boring : after successful heymaker life bar changes to red and blinking so need chase him and throw as many punches (or one big one) as possible while punching life bar slowly decreases and in few seconds restores very quickly, then again power punch and chase , the life bar is gone - 1st knockdown and so on untill 2nd final Ko. FN3 ko moments when boxer trying to survive feels more exciting.Graphically game looks good : inside fighting, no parry, blood, cuts, muscules ets all looks better but still i think boxers models looks more realistic in FN3.For online gaming i think people will use alot of easy to make punches such as jab and cross and move away constantly ( body movement without block doesnt work most of the time againt them ) I had all FN games and really wanted to get FN4 but after the demo im really disappointed.

education
education

i liked every other fn game the first time i played them but I was turned off immediately from this game. Looks pretty and all that stuff but I just didnt enjoy the demo at all. Played it once and havent gone back to it. I dont know if the demo will run the same as the actual game it seems like its all flash and no substance. Halton or whatever is name is just seems to keep on pressing towards you even tho hes getting clobbered by unrelenting jabs and upper cuts. There is no sense of power in the punching and whats with the ridiculous flash every time you counter punch. It seems like crap but on the other hand, I might just be no good at it. One thing for sure though will be the fact that I want to see how this game is reviewed by gamespot, ign, and a couple other sites.

andresss4
andresss4

nice can't wait for these game i allready have the UFC game

nathace
nathace

i agree with keitaro0516

nathace
nathace

noo it really isnt look at don king..if ea make this with buttons im not buyin! the fact i like round 3 was because of the controlls

costlywar
costlywar

The buttons is the way to go. Its quick and easy and your thumbs won't get sore after 3 rounds. What good is a game if your thumbs gets sore. Beside, its the fierce action on the screen w/ the intent to KO that counts. When you are playing you are not going to care if your buddy is using the analog sticks. I hope they give us options for the buttons.

techzilla77
techzilla77

Graphically this game looks awesome but the button configuration is my end all. Come on EA please don't disappoint like Cleveland did the NBA in game 6.

techzilla77
techzilla77

I will be hugely disappointed if button punching configuration is not on the actual game. I downloaded my demo this morning to find no button punching. If not then its a rental for me not gonna shell out $60 to use analogs all day log. I've always hated analog punching it sucks something fierce. As bad I I wanna play with Mike Tyson. I'll either rent it or buy it used and return it within my 7 day grace period @ gamestop then buy prototype or flash point if they are any good.

_Live4HIM13_
_Live4HIM13_

these guys really are not very good at the game yet haha but thats alrite ;)

_Live4HIM13_
_Live4HIM13_

dont judge the game from the video they have presented us with here. When you get your thumbs on the sticks yourself and give some time to learning the style of bobbing and weaving and leaning and blocking, this is when the game truly blossoms. The demo only lets you go 3 rounds which annoyed me cuz i was so close to knockin my opponent down at the end of that 3rd round, but in the real game id say a KO could be accomplished before a full 10 rounds. This game really is fun and the controls are a lot smoother and more friendly the Round 3 which makes me very happy (i gave up on FNR3 after resorting to the buttons, causing the game to get boring and repetitive.) So for all that have a problem with no button config's: DONT BUY THE GAME! you have a choice to either learn the game's true play style or save your money and go buy some queer game like Prizefighter or Punch Out for Wii. This is a more intricate fighting game, and its only thru embracing its intracacy that you are rewarded with a truly fun gaming experience. Nice Job EA, love the game so far :)

Makaatsu
Makaatsu

I just can't believe people still use buttons in this day and age. Why spend so much time mashing the buttons like a clueless drug addict or something when you can with fineese move the sticks to mimmik real punch movements and not use as much energy? Plus your look like you know what your doing!

Islandertj
Islandertj

EA's Real Life 4 is going to be amazing.