Fight Night 2004
Fight Night 2004 gives you a PhD in the sweet science. This is the first boxing game to truly recreate the look and feel of a real boxing match. You can duck and dance, jab and upper cut, but once you've truly mastered the game you will find, like in the real world, boxing is all about strategy.
The game has an instant fight mode and a career mode. If you select Play Now, you'll pick two boxers from the 32 fictional and famous boxers included in the game. If you just like to watch, you can even have the computer control both and recreate famous or mythical rumble royals. How about Sugar Ray Leonard versus Muhammad Ali or Roy Jones Jr. taking on Lennox Lewis?
The career mode allows you to build a boxer from the ground up, selecting the way he looks and molding the way he fights. Then you have to train and fight him, trying to build a record worth bragging about. What makes the career method so unique is that everything counts, even the training. To start a career you choose you first opponent from a list and then go do some training. The mini-game training session serves two purposes ' it teaches you some of the gameplay basics and awards skill points depending on how well you do. Once the training is complete you get to divvy out the points between two of your boxers eight ratings. The ratings are power, speed, agility, stamina, chin, body, heart and guts to directly effect how well your man boxes.
The graphics are superb, capturing the look and style of each of the famous boxers and allowing you to come up with you own trademark moves and punches as you try to capture a title. The game also features a highly realistic damage system that shows the bruises and cuts your fighter receives in a round and even shoots the occasional spray of blood across the ring. The game sounds highly realistic and includes a sound track featuring songs from the likes of Puff Daddy and Federation.
Although the inclusion of famous boxers and a pretty detailed career mode help elevate Fight Night 2004 past its predecessors, it's the game's controls that truly make this game the best boxer around. Instead of mashing buttons to control which punches you throw, you use the right thumbstick to mimic them. If you want to throw a straight right jab you push the joystick forward and slightly to the right. Want to throw a left jab? Then push slightly to the left. Hooks require a hard move to the left or right and then forward and for an uppercut, you pull back and then push around to the right or left. In addition, the left thumbstick or D-pad control your fighter's footwork in the ring. The two triggers are modifiers for the thumbsticks. If you hold in the left trigger your fighter plants his feet and then the left thumbstick allows him to lean out of punches and the right thumbstick lets him throw body blows. If you hold the right trigger the right thumbstick controls where he blocks. The controls sound confusing at first, but after a few minutes of play you'll find that they are not only easy to use, but quite intuitive.
Fight Night 2004 is a deftly blended mix of strategy and timing, a game that not only remembers that boxing isn't just about brawn and speed it's also about strategy.