Coming under a year after Fight Night 2004 took the videogaming boxing world by storm, we have the next game in the series: Fight Night Round 2. Fight Night Round 2, at its foundation, is much like the game that preceded it, but EA Sports has gone that extra mile to fixing problems from the last game and adding tons more stuff to do in this year’s iteration. Also gone is Roy Jones, Jr. as the cover athlete. Jones didn’t have the best of years last year and now Bernard Hopkins is the cover athlete.
Total Control Boxing is back in Fight Night Round 2, but the controls seem tighter and an extra punch has been added to the mix. You are also now able to move while punching, which is a vast improvement over the last game and probably one of the biggest criticism’s fired at Fight Night 2004. Let’s get to the scores of this vastly improved (although the last one was already very good) boxing game.
To say the graphics have been upgraded since Fight Night 2004 is an understatement. The licensed boxers look like their real-life selves, the boxers you create look pretty realistic and the damage graphics are light years ahead of last year’s game. You will watch as you or the other fighter get shiners and start bleeding. The best part of it all is when you go into knockout mode and throw the knockdown punch. You then see the punch from three different angles in slow motion. You watch as the punch hits the fighter and the skin on his head flops back and forth as the punch is landed. It is also amazing to see them lose the ability to stand anymore and they just drop to the canvas like a ton of bricks.
I seem to remember a bit of slowdown in Fight Night 2004, but with this game the slowdown is gone. There are obviously a lot more polygons being pushed in this game, so EA Sports must have figured out how to keep the game going at a steady rate.
If there is one minus to the graphics it would be the cameras. There really isn’t a great camera angle and I personally hate the default one where the camera jerks when someone is hit. It is way too disorientating and I actually used the camera slightly above the boxers instead. Chances are you won’t find one that is perfect, but the game is playable from the different camera angles and you’ll have my admiration if you stay with the default camera without getting sick.
If there’s one bad part of Fight Night Round 2, this section would be it. The overall boxing sounds themselves are excellent, but the overall score is brought down by the announcer and the limited music selection this game has. EA probably would have been smart to allow custom soundtracks on this game for the Xbox version because the limited tracks are very rap heavy and it just turned me off. I can handle a little rap, but hearing the same song over and over when you don’t have enough money to change the song pre-bout (picking a different song costs money along with hiring a trainer, cut man and entourage chick) for your entrance music for the fight gets old very fast.
The announcer is also just okay. He has the habit of catching up to what is happening many seconds after it happened. He also is blatantly wrong in certain instances, such as when I am clearly winning the round and he says, “blah blah is clearly winning this round” and he’s barely gotten any shots off on me and I’ve knocked him down at least once in the round. The announcer also repeats himself a bit too much for my liking.
Easy to learn, but hard to master, Total Control Boxing is back again for this go around. Total Control Boxing was easily the biggest thing that Fight Night 2004 had going for it and EA has upped the ante a bit this time around with even tighter controls and the ability to move while punching, something you couldn’t do in Fight Night 2004.
This year the controls are back. Left/Right jab is diagonal on the right analog stick (upper left for left, upper right for right), Left/Right hook is pushing the right analog stick toward the hand you want to use and rotating upwards and the Left/Right uppercut is done by pushing the right analog stick to the lower left/right and then rotating to the top. You can pull off body blows with the same motions combining with the left trigger in order to go low. Those were the same controls as last year, this year EA has added another punch to the mix: the haymaker, which is a charged up punch. You start by pushing the right analog stick directly to the left or right, then rotating downward diagonally and then rotating upwards diagonally. This is a power punch and will usually stun the opponent, however if you miss you leave yourself wide open for a good combo. In my mind the haymakers are a bit too easy to pull off and a bit too powerful for such an easy move to pull off.
There is also huge defensive potential as well via the right trigger and right analog stick. You can block and parry punches. Parry works really well because it leaves your opponent open for counter-punches, something that comes in really handy as you go up the ranks in the career mode. EA has also added a clinch move this year with the Y button that allows you to hug your opponent in order to regain stamina, however the clinch can be shrugged off.
The controls are hard to master, but after a while you will get used to it. One of the bigger things to remember is if you go in flailing with punches that each time you punch you have less power behind the hits unless you move away or block in order to grow your power bar for big hits again.
Career mode is obviously going to be where most people will spend their time in this game. You can create your own boxer or choose one of the licensed ones and go through the amateur ranks and into the professional ranks where you have a number of belts to go after in the different weight classes. Added this year is the ability to treat your own wounds at the end of rounds (or letting the computer do it automatically). You are treated to a mini-game where you can treat your cuts and bruises as your trainer tells you how you’re doing.
Once in the professional ranks you start to make money, in fact you get $10,000 right off for going into the pro ranks. From here you go up the ladder to the top boxer in your weight class, unlocking sponsorships and the ability to buy new equipment, tattoos, etc. as you win each fight. Along with this you have to hire people for each fight that will cost money. You can get a trainer, cut man, new entrance and a female entourage. Each hire/addition costs money for that fight, but they also have good aspects to them in that they can raise some of your stats. Before each fight you are able to do some training on different equipment. You can choose to do it manually or let the computer do it in order to build up your abilities.
The important thing to remember when boxing is to keep an eye on your health bar and your power bar. Each punch you throw brings your power level down and soon enough if you keep unloading without any break your power bar will go lower as the fight goes on and you won’t have as powerful of punches anymore. In many ways there is a bit of strategy involved in this game. With the ability to now move while you punch you are able to move in, get a combo off and move out to recharge your power meter.
The career mode seems much better fleshed out than last year and I enjoyed it quite a bit more.
Honestly this game is as of much value as you want it to be. The career mode is awfully long, especially if you go through all the weight classes and choose to go through the amateur ranks and not just jump into the professional ranks. This game also includes online play, which is good but has its problems. Once you get used to the timing of your punches in the single-player mode you will find the slight delay with the online timing to not be to your liking. Career mode has plenty to offer you, but it is nice to go online and have some bouts with friends that may be far away.