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Forum LockedReview: Fight Night 2004 (PS2)

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JasonSGN View Drop Down
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Joined: 01-25-2006
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    Posted: 01-25-2006 at 8:32pm
Fight Night 2004 PS2I've been waiting for a great boxing game since playing 'Boxing' on the Atari 2600. While some boxing games have been fun, none have really captured the feel of the sport - until now. Formerly known as the 'KnockOut King' series, EA went back to the drawing board and redesigned the game from the ground up - the result is 'Fight Night 2004'.

The first thing you'll notice in 'Fight Night 2004' is the graphics. EA has put together an incredible looking game that is far better looking than any of the games from the 'KnockOut Kings' series. The faces of the of the pro fighters look eerily life-like and are easily identifiable. The boxer models and movements are also smooth and realistic. EA has also included real-time physics to the knockouts instead of using canned animations. This results in the fighter's bodies reacting realistically to the punches. While the crowd graphics are not the best ever, they certainly achieve their job of enveloping you in the environment.

The game offers different camera angles and controller configurations. I prefer and strongly recommend that you change the fighter movement to 'Follow Camera' instead of the default 'Follow Fighter' option. Making this change causes your fighter to move in the direction the analog controller is pushed and is much more intuitive. I personally like the 'Swing' camera too.

The sound in the game is a mixed bag. While the ring sound effects and crowd noise are fine, EA decided to go the 'hip-hop' route with the fight introductions and commentary. In their attempt to make the game hip, EA may turn off some die-hard boxing fans that would rather hear a known commentator call the fight - I know I would've preferred anyone else to handle the commentary.

The most important part of any game is the gameplay and this is where 'Fight Night' shines. EA has implemented a new analog control system that handles everything from the punches being thrown, bobbing and weaving, blocking to fighter movement. Moving the analog stick in different motions will make your fighter throw different punches. I was skeptical about this feature when I first heard about it, but after using the analog punching control system, I could never go back to using buttons on a boxing game again. Once you get adjusted to the control, it truly becomes second nature and you begin to react to the action in the ring without thinking about what button to press. There is an option to use the face buttons for punches for those that don't want to use the new analog punching system, but it's not recommended. Be warned, this is no longer a slugfest. Fighters that use defense, head movement and counter-punching will have more success than someone that comes out firing, which adds another layer of realism to the game. The one problem with the gameplay is the lack of clinches and is something EA needs to add to next year's version. It's the equivalent of having a baseball game without bunting - which is unexceptable.

The AI of the pro CPU opponents is very good and the boxers fight like their real life counterparts. Sugar Ray Leaonard will use ring movement and hand speed to beat you while fighters like Roy Jones will counter punch their way to victory. This will force you to change you strategy depending on who you're fighting and who you're using. It's best to use your fighter's strengths if you want to win.

The game offers a decent create-a-fighter mode and a career mode where you fight your way to the title. EA has also implemented a new way of getting up from a knockdown. You must align three blurry images of the referee counting before he reaches ten. This option can be set to automatic in a single-player game, but must be set to manual for online play. 

Online play has been included for the PS2 version of 'Fight Night 2004' and works perfectly. I was worried that online play would be hard to pull off in a sport with so much action where timing is crucial and I was glad to be proven wrong. The controls are responsive and lag was non-existant. I only wish online play for every game could be this good.

This game has become my favorite boxing game of all time and has revolutionized the way boxing games are played. While many people think 'Punch Out' is the best boxing game of all time, Fight Night 2004 has replaced KnockOut Kings 2000 (PS1) as my heavyweight champion of boxing sims and has become the boxing game that I always wanted. I can't wait for next year's version.

Score: 9.0

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