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January 14, 2005
Fight Night: Round 2 - Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Anticipation Players Price
24/3/2005EA SportsEA Chicago1-2$99.95

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Let the blood fly.
Ever since the earliest video games boxing has been represented on the TV screen. Over the years we have been graced with Boxing (Atari 2600, 1985), 4D Boxing (PC, 1991), TKO Super Championship Boxing (SNES, 1992), Mike Tyson Boxing (PSOne, 2000) and Ready 2 Rumble Boxing (Dreamcast, 1999). Most of those games were admittedly questionable in quality.

With the Playstation 2 boxing games become massive business. The Rocky titles have been quite entertaining however it is Electronic Arts' Knockout Kings series that really made an impact with realism not seen. Strangely, however after two games the series disappeared, and then reappeared as Fight Night 2004. This is the next game and once again another name change, no more years after the name, just a round number. Surely they'll settle down on name soon. But names mean nothing, it's all about the gameplay and Fight Night: Round 2 looks like the knockout blow.

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Note the facial damage.
As you come to expect from Electronic Arts this game isn't just a rehash of the previous title, but rather the developers have added in many new features. In fact the development team has stated that the jump from Fight Night 2004 to Fight Night Round 2 is bigger then that from Knockout Kings 2002 to Fight Night 2004. Make sense? Not really. Well trust me, this is one massively improved game.

In terms of game modes the biggest will remain the Career Mode, although it has been expanded considerbly over last years already somewhat dull efforts. Exhibition modes for one-on-one boxing make a return while Hard Hits is an entirely new mode which follows prison rules. No round, the winner is the last man standing. Finally the My Gym mode includes several mini-games to keep you occupied. The create-a-player option returns but has been enhanced. It will no longer be possible to create a heavyweight that can move as fast as a lighter boxer, nor a light boxer that has as much power in his punches as a heavyweight. In between rounds, take command of your boxer's corner. Use the swell and cut tools to reduce damage and bleeding around your boxer's eyes. If your boxer can't see, he can't fight!

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The fighters look wonderful.
The control system in Fight Night: Round 2 is extremely similar to that of the previous games with the analog control system giving you total control over your entire boxer's body instead of just your fists. Stick and move, block on the move, and even do a classic "Rope a Dope" all with the analog sticks. One of the improvements the developers have made to this title is the way boxers can both move and punch at the same time unlike last years rather move, punch, move gameplay. As the game progresses not only do the fighters sustain damage, but this will also affect the performance of your fighter. Get a swollen eye and it makes it harder to block punches and so on. One of the first, and most crucial changes to the gameplay is the inclusion of the Haymaker. Enable this during a punch and it is given extra power however it also leaves you vunerable to counter attack. By using the Haymaker it will even be possible to go for one punch Knockouts!

As for the boxers roster everyone from last years title has returned except Oscar de la Hoya and Fernando Vargas who aren't fighting enough apparently. Fortunately six new boxers are set to enter the ring including Floyd Mayweather Jr., Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Manny Pacquiao, Diego Corrales, and Juan Lazcano. Come on EA, where is Kostya Tszyu?

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Clipped his nose.
Graphically boxing has never looked better in a console game. Everything from the fighters to the stadiums are wonderfully detailed but it's when you see Fight Night: Round 2 in action that you really start to admire it. The boxers all sustain injury with blood flying and bruises forming as the matches progress. One of the biggest complaints from last years title was the inappropriate commentarty. We are please to confirm that the Commentary for this game is being provided by Joe Tessitore from ESPN which should add plenty of realism.

This game is certainly one which commands attention. The developers have taken last years brilliant title and added even more features and gameplay elements and polished everything to near perfection. One aspect which hasn't been confirmed for the PAL release is online gameplay - here's hoping. Expect a release around mid-March.