Initial FNR4 Impressions

Posted June 28th, 2009 at 5:57 pm


Fight Night Round 4 made its way out last week as one of the most anticipated sports releases of the year. Over the last couple days I’ve found myself trying to get a feel for the game and playing online. Some of the detrimental aspects and design decisions have stood out the most once getting past the fantastic visuals. Continue on for some general thoughts and leave yours in the comments!

Much has been made over the longer development cycle that the game had to benefit from. That is most seen in the physics engine which does a fantastic job with things like hit detection and grazing shots. The graphics exceed FNR3 and challenge UFC 2009 as maybe the best of the generation. Those things make it feel like a fresh experience despite being a bi-yearly franchise.

There are a few aspects of the game that have stood out so far as negatively affecting the experience. The camera spins around a great deal and throughout longer fights I’ve found that to be disorienting. I also feel like at times I’m drawn into the opponent and can’t get away from them…almost like the game pushes you into the inside fighting. Fatigue seems to be the biggest issue. It is most pronounced in online bouts but it is the fatigue system in general and not online that has been exposed as a problem.

Go anywhere that is discussing the game and there will be a debate about the button punching being removed. This continues to be a baffling decision as it has upset a large faction of consumers and dominated talk surrounding the game. I actually used the analog stick in FNR3 so my feeling that buttons still should have been included is based on offering options as being a positive thing. For whatever reason though, despite uproar from the community, EA remained stubborn and refused to consider it.

Now though I almost want to go back to the buttons. I’m finding the stick to be inconsistent and too mechanical in nature. Rarely am I able to counter and in many cases I’m having to think about the type of punch and motion involved instead of going off reaction. This is especially the case with haymakers where you’re required to hold the RB which is incredibly awkward. I pretty much have forgotten about attempting to put combinations together. Not to mention that frequently I’m making motions with the stick and no punch comes or the wrong one is thrown.

The ironic thing is that one of the main reasons for removing the buttons was due to imbalance vs the analog stick with online. What that actually means is the buttons were more effective and precise. Now you just have people online stick “mashing” basically meaning nothing has changed. A proper fatigue system could’ve balanced things regardless of the control scheme being used. However people are throwing punches like crazy and not having to pay for it. Against the wrong person online it makes for a very frustrating experience.

At least online runs much better than the last iteration which was plagued with lag issues. I’ve yet to encounter anything but very smooth fights. Against the right people online it could be an enjoyable experience.

The Photo Face feature is a nice addition but again it doesn’t do a great job with the rare exceptions. I’ve yet to create anything that looks at all like me or the celebrities I was attempting to recreate. There are still a lack of options which have plagued it in the past such as not enough variations of hair styles. There are some good created fighters available to download though. Also it’s cool that they have the replay highlight uploading but where is the screenshot feature? This seems like a game perfect for that but it wasn’t included.

Again this is a beautiful game that deserves accolades based on various techncial achievements such as the amazing graphics and physics system. However the enjoyment level is probably going to be more split than was seen with FNR3. I wasn’t get a whole lot out of that game but I respected what it did for being early in the console’s life cycle. Right now I remember having more fun with that than I am with FNR4 though so I don’t forsee playing this extensively. I expect a lot of people will love this game but I’m thinking there will be a larger faction that dislikes it also.