Fight Night Round 4: Hands-On

In my version of Pacquiao vs. Hatton, things were different.Yes, we all know what Manny Pacquiao did to Ricky Hatton last weekend in the real world. We all saw Manny--displaying his typical ferocity and speed--absolutely dismantle the British fighter in less than two full rounds, again making the...

In my version of Pacquiao vs. Hatton, things were different.

Yes, we all know what Manny Pacquiao did to Ricky Hatton last weekend in the real world. We all saw Manny--displaying his typical ferocity and speed--absolutely dismantle the British fighter in less than two full rounds, again making the claim as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the business.

My fight was different. You see, I had a chance to try out Hatton vs. Pacquiao two weeks prior in New York City, thanks to some hands-on time with EA Sports' upcoming Fight Night Round 4. And though my fight didn't have the flash of Manny's KO of Hatton, it served as an excellent reminder of the sheer amount of variety that FN4 is going to pack into its gameplay when it is released late next month.

I played as Pacquiao and Fight Night producer Brian Hayes strapped on the gloves as Hatton. Hayes went easy on me for the first couple of rounds, letting me get a feel for the control scheme, which is slightly modified from Fight Night Round 3. The controls aren't that different, but for someone who spent a good deal of time with FN3, it was the little differences that took some getting used to. For instance, body shots used to be controlled by holding down the left trigger as a modifier, but now they're simply tied to the lower half of the right stick. So if you want to throw a shot down low, you simply flick the stick downward and to the right or left.

Splitting up the right stick into upper and lower punches affects haymaker punches, which in FN3 were executed with big spins on the right stick. In Fight Night 4, you throw your biggest punches by modifying your regular hooks and uppercuts with the right bumper (R1 on the PlayStation 3). Every punch, be it a probing jab or a kill-shot uppercut, feels unique in Fight Night 4, with blows landing on different spots on a fighter's head or body. Even exploratory punches have a weight to them that didn't seem to be present last time around, which makes inside fighting a risk worth taking. Fight Night 3's invisible wall between fighters is also a thing of the past. In FN4, guys can get right up against one another to look for that knockout uppercut. If things get too close for comfort, the X button (square on the PS3) will be your best friend, letting you push your opponent back to free up some room.

Playing as Pacquiao, I was able to make the most of Manny's speedy hands to land some impressive blows on Hatton's grill, though it wasn't long before Hatton was returning the favor in kind, with flurries of uppercuts and probing jabs that dazed Pacquiao and kept me backing up. Playing as Hatton, Brian Hayes showed off all of the things that you can do defensively in the ring with enough practice. First up is simply staying away from your opponent's fists. The left trigger is used to move your fighter's torso around while standing. By holding the LT down and moving the left analog stick, you can duck in and out of punches.

There's also the block button (right trigger). Your boxer's ability to block a punch is measured by an onscreen block meter, and once it's depleted, blocking won't do you much good. That meter, along with a stamina and an overall health meter, will be replenished between rounds, thanks to a corner minigame that will let you put points earned during the previous round into attributes such as health and stamina. You can even bank those points, as I did in the early rounds, knowing that sooner or later Hayes, as Hatton, would stop going easy on me while talking about the game and begin to fight.

By the third round, Hayes had essentially finished explaining the controls to me, and the fight had moved from game demo to actual contest. It was on. As Pacquiao, I decided to make the most of my punch speed, quickly darting in and out with stinging jabs and body blows when I could manage them, hoping to drain Hatton's stamina in the process. It wasn't a bad idea in theory, and I had several instances where I worked my game plan to perfection, getting in and out with a minimum of damage to show for it. Regardless, greed plays a big role in any fight (or at least, any fight I'm involved in) and, too often, I found myself standing toe to toe with Hatton and trading punches at lighting speed. It's here that you can find one of the starkest differences between this Fight Night and the games that came before it. Punches rattle off like machine-gun blasts in Fight Night 4 and, though not every punch connects perfectly, the frenetic fury of up-close fighting is conveyed to impressive effect in the game.

Much has been made of the physics in Fight Night 4 but, after playing the game for myself, the new engine is full of surprises. The canned animations and slow punching of Fight Night 3 is a thing of the past; this time around everything--punches, defense, character movement, even the physical make-up of the boxers themselves--feels practically brand-new.

An example: At one point in our fight, I managed to throw a couple of hooks at Hatton's head. In the process of defending himself, Hayes brought up Hatton's left arm, which managed to trap Pacquiao's right hook. Manny, realizing that his arm was caught, tried to yank his arm free from the hook while Hatton took a few shots at Manny's body. "Oh, that's a cool animation," I told Hayes, as Pacquiao struggled to free himself. To which Hayes corrected me: That was no animation. Instead, Manny's arm had literally gotten trapped by Hatton's block, and the "yanking" animation that I saw was the character procedurally trying to pull himself free while reaching the limits of how far his shoulder would move. In other words, if Hatton had somehow managed to trap Manny's arm in a block last Saturday night, it might have played out exactly like it did in our fight.

In the end, Hayes' defense proved to be too much for me and Manny. Not only adept at dodging and blocking, Hayes was also skilled at counterpunching, essentially creating huge openings in my defense with his footwork and dodge abilities, exposing Pacquiao to the kind of punishment that the real-life Hatton can only dream of. Hatton knocked my Manny out in the middle rounds with ease. As humiliating as the loss was (something I'm sadly used to, alas), I suppose there's no shame in losing to the guy who's making the game. Perhaps Hatton could have used Hayes in his corner last weekend…

Fight Night Round 4 is scheduled for release on June 30. Check out new screens of the game.

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Discussion

168 comments
Saxamajig
Saxamajig

this game is looking nice. hope the gameplay is up to the same level as the gorgeous graphics.

Beaver_Slayer
Beaver_Slayer

I can't wait to drop the hammer with mike tyson. do you think EA will throw in a feature where you can bite people's ears off? I hope so. talk about legit!

private_show23
private_show23

yo this game is missing mayweather jr. hes a must have!!

andresss4
andresss4

I am gonna see if i can download the demo today

Raditsz
Raditsz

cant wait to Play :)

bisson76
bisson76

oh no. online championship. i need this. good bye summer :(

KillTank
KillTank

This is going to be awesome

bluebori
bluebori

I wonder if u can use the headset in this game.

mikees1
mikees1

nemiisis i dont know who youv been watching but it was Hatton.in his prime he was actualy quite good and the people he fought were better than average as you put it!

phb
phb

Manny is probably the biggest filipino ever.

nikkorome
nikkorome

Wait, how many are commentating the game? I wish it would be two. Because only one, I don't think so... :-/

nikkorome
nikkorome

Manny got bigger!!! Proud of my "kababayan"!!! Can't wait to try and use him!!!

Tikicobra
Tikicobra

The graphics are incredible, and could easily rival Killzone 2.

ohjtbehaaave
ohjtbehaaave

When is the demo coming out? I wonder what's improved in the career mode?

Schwarte
Schwarte

I can't describe how psyched I am about this game. I loved playing Fight Night 3 and the promise of even more intense boxing alone is getting me really excited.. I had a lot of fun playing FNR3 with my buddies, especially when drinking (yeah, evil me, I know, save it) and we're all waiting for the sequel to come out to continue this bad habit :)

DrewKid4
DrewKid4

Should be great, and I'm glad EA Sports is enhancing certain aspects of successful games rather than just remaking them no matter what like back in the day. Although I'm upset in how the new physics engine will not allow me to beat up on my friends who choose heavyweight fighters when I choose lightweight fighters.

nathace
nathace

i hope they make this one more about the traininh cause on the last u only had 1 session per fight wich is kinda un realistic

nemiisis
nemiisis

@ mikees1 hatton in his prime was nothing more than a good fighter who beat alot of average fighters and when came up against the very very best i.e. floyd mayweather jnr and pacquiao he was found wanting. his lifestyle didnt help but even in his prime he would have been no match for the pac man

jscapo
jscapo

Its..... GONNA BE A GOOD ONE!

kytomasi
kytomasi

aslong as my guy Felix Trinidad is on this game im surely getting it. XD well ill be getting it anyways :P

SnuggleBunny698
SnuggleBunny698

Hopefully worldgaming will be featuring this game on 360 - they have FNR3 on PS3

bbballin
bbballin

this game is definitely is going to be the best fight night ever mike tyson the graphics look INSANE!!!!! i wonder how many fight nights there gonna be.

bleedgreen2-1-5
bleedgreen2-1-5

This game cant come quick enough! cant wait to play as Iron Mike, man i remember the good old days when he would put fools down in the 1st or 2nd round. I will play as Iron Mike and The Golden Boy, and cant forget Roy Jones Jr.

scar_of_death
scar_of_death

this game is great but when i use my character pacquio his getting far

mikees1
mikees1

This bloke is no boxing fan obviously.The way he puts down Hatton (who by the way im no fan of) is abit disrespectful "exposing Pacquiao to to the kind of punishment that the real life Hatton could only dream of",youv obviously not seen any of Hattons early fights then have you? Hatton is finished as a fighter now and hasd been for some time so pacquiao took the fight at the right time.He has consistently abused his body with alcohol and junk food to the point where he bloats to unrecognisable preportions, though they were both the same age Hattons body has been prematurly aged by his post fight diet,imagine the damage that can do if you are doing it constantly for years in between fights,thats what finished Hatton not Pacquiao! In the days when Ricky took boxing seriously he'd have utterly demolished Pacquiao...Would like to see Carl Froch in this game,he's one to watch for the future but i expect he'l be in the next one.

The_ripster88
The_ripster88

i still enjoy jumping on the 360 n knocking someone’s lights out on fnr3 to this very day!... i cant wait for this game!! Looks grate sounds grate and with out a doubt in my mind will live up to and surpass all expectations.

tmaclabi
tmaclabi

Im also a Filipino and playing as Pacquiao would be great :)

aoshi_shinumori
aoshi_shinumori

@leadlefthand i agree.. after what we saw with the hatton vs pacman fight. they really should increase pacman's ratings..

leadlefthand
leadlefthand

They need to increase Pacman's ratings in the game. He had horrible leg speed in the previous two versions. It was impossible to dart in-and-out like the way he fights these days.

BladedNuiasnce
BladedNuiasnce

UFC has so much more depth, simply striking and dodging isnt going to cut it anymore, Ill stick with UFC @Blue_Tomato is FNR really the closest to real martial arts, dude open your eyes!

zeronhero
zeronhero

Im planning to buy ps3 only because of this game! i loved fight night round 3. i wonder how awsome its gonna b

EBBIT
EBBIT

graphics look great

rockatanski
rockatanski

I've read about the game a lot now but I seemed to have missed or cannot find any information on the topic of creating your own boxer? I'm assuming it will? If so, that would be PERFECT.

Dawg9000
Dawg9000

The thing this has over UFC is being more physics based. Besides, who doesn't wanna do Ali vs. Tyson? XD

Doolz2024
Doolz2024

This will probably be the best sports game of 2009.