Fight Night Round 4
It's hard to forget the first time I landed an orbital-crushing haymaker in Fight Night Round 3: my vicious blow sent ripples across the opponent's cheeks and bodily fluids flying towards the canvas. No other boxing sim since has come close to recreating that amazing combination of visual brutality and gameplay finesse until now -- Fight Night Round 4 is finally here and while it may not have the same revolutionary impact of its predecessor, it's a major step up in nearly every imaginable way.
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It's easy to think back on how great Round 3 looked for its time, but a lot has changed in the three years since its release. Luckily, Round 4 is no slouch: the fighters look better than ever, with increased detail and more lifelike animations, and the upgrade to 60 frames per second irons out the clunky movements and other hiccups from the last game. Fighters still show visual damage and fatigue over the course of a match, but unlike Round 3, the user interface (with health, stamina, and damage meters) is on by default, so you'll have to manually disable it if you're looking for a less intrusive on-screen experience. With or without the meters, the knockdown punches remain a highlight, with the action slowing down and the camera zooming in for that exact moment that your perfect punch reaches its destination.
Well worth noting is the increased emphasis on peripheral details outside the ring, which help create the sensation of fighting on the world stage. As you weave around the ring, you'll see photographers lining up their shots, judges keeping score, and even trainers shadowboxing near the corner. Also appreciated is the presence of Teddy Atlas who joins play-by-play man Joe Tessitore to offer compelling insight about the fighters and the current state of the sport. The dialogue gets recycled but it's worthwhile and interesting.