Fight Night Round 2 PlayStation 2
Published by EA Sports
Developed by Electronic Arts
Release Date: Out Now
Fight Night Round 2, an introduction.
Over the years boxing games have suffered mixed fortunes. I remember playing a great (but simplistic) boxing game on the Atari 2600 and I was also impressed with a game on the ZX Spectrum 48K (Barry McGuigan's World Championship Boxing I think it was called) which I played for months. In recent times boxing games just haven't been the same. I enjoyed Victorious Boxers which we reviewed years ago but the Mike Tyson Heavyweight Boxing game was very poor. Even the Knockout Kings series wasn't really up to scratch. Things are looking up though because I've really enjoyed playing Fight Night Round 2 and it's certainly one of the best boxing games I've played.
What's the game about?
Like most boxing games you get the chance to take part in exhibition fights and a full career using pro boxers or using a custom boxer and attempting to become world champion. The modes on offer are Play Now, Career Mode, Hard Hits and My Gym. Hard Hits is a one off boxing match of 15 unlimited rounds (that's to say there's no time limit to each round). Only when a knockdown occurs does a round end. You win either by a knockout or by obtaining more knockdowns than your opponent during the 15 rounds. My Gym allows you to practice through 4 different events such as weightlifting and sparring. This year's game also features Cutman controls (where you get a chance to heal your boxer's cut and swelling) and Haymakers (and an extra strong EA Sports Haymaker).
What's good about the game?
What stands out for me with Fight Night Round 2 is the control system. The game uses the Total Punch Control system (I never played last year's game but I understand this is a refined version from the TPC that was used in that game). All too often in games of this nature you're require to button mash until your thumbs ache. For the most part you use the right analogue stick to throw the punches (in conjunction with the L1 button body shots are performed and in conjunction with the R1 button blocks are performed) with the buttons assigned to actions that you don't need as much such as blocking, clinching, taunts and illegal moves. Personally I found this to be an excellent control system. If you prefer to button mash though, the game has several configurations that allow for a more traditional control scheme where you push the buttons in order to punch. The Career Mode is also very enjoyable with lots of items to unlock and purchase from the Fight Store. You can opt to play through a career with a pro (their stats are reduced so it doesn't make it any easier) or you can create your own boxer.
What's not so good about the game?
The game isn't as deaf gamer friendly as it could be (more on that in a moment) which is rather disappointing. The online mode has obviously been cut from the European release of the game. Whilst this is not a major issue it does mean that our version of the game is a lesser version when comparing it to the US version and it's a shame that the online mode couldn't have remained. It would have also been nice if the selection of boxers had been more comprehensive although with the likes of Muhammad Ali and Evander Holyfield included in the roster it's likely that most will be happy. The number of knockdowns seems to be a little high as do the amount of times a downed enemy will get back up with no problems. Still it does add more drama to the game. Load and save times are also rather long and the more impatient gamers out there will find their length a little irritating.
How does it look?
I have to admit to being very impressed with the boxer models in Fight Night Round 2 because they look amazing. Everything from the boxer's muscle tone to the sweat that sprays into the air as a punch is taken to the head looks excellent. It's easy to see the physical punishment a boxer is taking, making it easier to see which part of your opponent's body to concentrate on (and which part of your own to defend). Most animations are very good but there a few that look a little off. There are a few clipping issues too but on the whole this is one impressive looking boxing game and one that surely can't be beaten on this current generation of consoles.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
Unfortunately deaf gamers will miss out on all the verbal content in Fight Night Round 2 because of there being no subtitles. Fight commentary isn't subtitled and between the rounds you'll miss out what your seconds are saying to you. There are a few movies that explain how to make the most of designing your own boxer, using the new Haymaker and how to use the Cutman controls. None of these movies are subtitled so they are useless for deaf gamers. Whilst it's still a great boxing experience for deaf gamers then it's not as good as it could be.
Even taking into account what I've said in the previous paragraph, I'd still recommend Fight Night Round 2 to anyone looking for a boxing game at the present moment. The control system is superb and the Career Mode alone is worth the asking price. It's a shame the online mode wasn't included in the European release but even so there's more than enough here to make the game a recommended purchase. If only the game had been subtitled (at least in the important parts) it would have earned a 9/10 rating.
Overall Game Rating: 8.2/10
Deaf Gamers Classification
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Fight Night Round 2 is a great boxing game with a great control system. It's a shame it's not more deaf gamer friendly though.