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Fight Night: Round 2

Score: 93%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: EA Sports
Developer: EA Chicago
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Sports (Boxing)/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

Graphically, Fight Night: Round 2 is absolutely outstanding in the ring. The player models take after their real-life counterparts extremely well. In fact, it’s almost creepy... in a good way, of course. In fact, special fx like sweat and blood spraying, damage to the face, and sweat trickling down the fighter’s bodies are equally amazing and add to the visual realism.

Whether you land an uppercut, jab, hook, or body blow, every single punch can be heard clear as day. The announcers do a pretty good job of calling the action too, but it is unfortunately a bit delayed, which can sometimes make sound clips overlap with future punches. Because of this, the announcers often talk about how one fighter landed a huge Haymaker, although they may be getting pummeled at the time it is said. That aside, the audio in this 2005 version of Fight Night is very good indeed.


Gameplay:

The main draw of EA Sports’ Fight Night: Round 2 comes with its Career mode. Whether you create a new up-and-coming boxer or decide to Rebuild a Legend, Fight Night: Round 2 delivers the one-two knockout game that you want and deserve. As you work your way through the ranks, you start as an amateur boxer and enhance your body through a series of mini-game-type training methods. Each focuses on certain areas of the fighter’s attributes, and you start to see your fighter’s physique develop before your eyes. At any time you want, you can make the step into the professional realm of one of the oldest sports on earth. As a professional, you come face to face with many “unknowns,” as well as familiar faces to fans of the sport. Unfortunately, it takes waaaaaay too long to get to the top within a Career. By the time you have your chance at the big time, you’d be considered too old for the sport in real life. It would have been nice to see a faster title shot, based on your career record and who you’ve fought to get there; more like how it is in real life. Just leave out Don King.

In the ring, you have such precise controls using the analog sticks that you may wonder how you have ever lived without them. EA’s “Total Boxer Control” allows you to not only punch with a combination of analog sticks and trigger buttons, but also to dodge and weave, as well as block precise sections of the body from costly strikes. It may be a bit daunting to get used to the controls at first, but once you learn how to block, counter, and throw in a few special punches (like the Haymaker), you should be bloodying faces in no time.

Just don’t think Round 2 is all about your fighting skills. Along with protecting yourself in the middle of the squared-circle, you also need to protect yourself while in the corner. Between rounds, Fight Night: Round 2 allows you to control the cutman. As you get your face bashed in (hopefully not too bad), you have to reduce the swelling and soak up the blood from your cuts. If you don’t, the referee eventually stops the fight. While it’s not hard to perform these actions (analog sticks again), there is a time limit, so finding a balance between the two methods is essential.

Then there is multiplayer. Any good fighting game has a great single-player campaign (as does Round 2), but it also must hold up to the test of time when kicking your buddy’s can, or even better, a complete stranger’s in multiplayer. Whether you’re in your living room playing a friend or busting some blows online, Fight Night: Round 2 is a quick winner. Thanks to Xbox Live, you can now play anytime with anyone who wants a piece of the action. The online interface makes it easy to set up fights, and thanks to broadband access, the amount of lag in-game is minimal. Unfortunately, you cannot take your career fighters online to duke it out against other career fighters. You have to create an entirely new boxer for Xbox Live.


Difficulty:

Learning to throw Haymakers is the key to success in Fight Night: Round 2. If you know how to read your opponent and launch a flurry combo of Haymakers, Hooks, and Jabs to the body and head, from both left and right, you should have little trouble beating many combatants. Of course, the A.I. can give you a serious run for your money, and even kick your butt at times if you’re not careful. But, for the most part, a stick-and-move attitude can do wonders for your career.

Game Mechanics:

Although you can adjust your controls to become a last-generation button-masher, using the default analog stick controls for Fight Night: Round 2 gives you the ultimate control. Thanks to these great controls, fighting can actually become second-nature after a while. I still have trouble performing Haymaker Uppercuts at will, but every other punch is spot-on. Unfortunately, the user interface is far from perfect. If you don’t enable autosave, you’ll have a ridiculous time of having to navigate every time you want to manually save. Also, the interface can be confusing. For example, the Create-A-Boxer in the main menu is for online use only. You have to create a completely separate fighter for use in your Career.

Despite a few interface flaws that desperately need to be fixed next year, Fight Night: Round 2 is an awesome game that has a great replay value to it, especially thanks to Xbox Live. Round 2 is visually stellar, and the in-game controls are perfect to give you the ultimate control over your boxer. There are a fair number of boxing legends as well, although it would be cool to see more in the future. Fight Night: Round 2 takes a backseat to nobody, and delivers the knockout blow to all competition. If you like boxing games, this is the one to get.


-Woody, GameVortex Communications
AKA Shane Wodele

Sony PlayStation Portable Need for Speed: Underground Rivals Microsoft Xbox Myst IV: Revelation

 
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