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March 18, 2005
Fight Night Round 2 - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
24/3/2005EA SportsEA Chicago1- 2M15+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
96KBDolby PLIIYesNoNoneNo

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Graphics are improved yet again!
Over the years gamers have had many great (and sometimes not so great) console boxing games. Titles include the likes of 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). While some of those games have been questionable in quality the Playstation 2 has been graced with some excellent boxing titles. The Rocky games were quite entertaining however it is Electronic Arts' Knockout Kings and Fight Night series' that really made an impact with their stunning realism.

Strangely after the first two Knockout Kings titles EA's boxing games disappeared and then reappeared last year as Fight Night 2004. This fourth game has undergone yet another name change, this time to Fight Night: Round 2 but that's not all that has been changed as the development team have improved the graphics and refined the gameplay even further.

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Note the facial damage.
It must be said EA Chicago, who did the development duties on this title, have made some considerable changes and improvement from Fight Night 2004. Firstly the fighter roster includes 36 boxers in total. 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. This makes it a very impressive list although it would be nice to have a slightly larger selection for each weight division.

The career mode has undergone some major changes in Fight Night Round 2, all for the better. The fighters now progress on a more realistic course from amateurs to professionals with the challenges increasing in difficulty on a much more realistic scale. The size of the career mode has been expanded with the ability to purchase people around you such as trainers and cut men as well as new equipment. It's a great mode which will keep you entertained for weeks. Of course exhibition matches are also available.

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The fighters look wonderful.
A Hard Hits mode sees you following the prison rules, no rounds and the winner is the last man standing. It's exhausting, but tremendous fun when you have two evenly matched combatants. 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. Another new feature is the EA Sports Cutman. Between rounds you can enter a 30-second mini-game which allows you to fix the cuts and damage to your boxers face. It's pretty fun but if you just want to stay with the action you can let the CPU control this for you.

Finally we come to the most important aspect of the game, the controls. Fight Night 2004 was revolutionary in its move to dual analogue controls and this year the game remains largely the same, with a little more refinement. 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. The haymaker punch returns for those spectacular knockouts however the game makes it too easy to use the haymaker on a regular basis with little increased risk.

As with the recently reviewed NBA Street V3 the biggest disappointment is the lack of online gameplay. I would have thought it would make more sense for EA to keep this feature in then to remove it from the game and take the criticism from PAL press and gamers. Still, as long as you have a couple of mate there should be no problems getting a couple of them to sit down for a couple of hours with this game.

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Clipped his nose.
There is little doubt that this the best looking boxing game ever on a console. The fighters have apparently had their polygon counts doubled from the previous title and while they look wonderful in these still screenshots it's not until you see them in action that you realise just how special this game is. Every nuance has been captured from the characters stance to smallest movements. Compared to EA's earlier Knockout Kings titles this game runs a little slower, but as a result it increases the realism of the title. The damage inflicted on the boxers is brutal as their faces bruise and the blood starts flying. As expected the frame rate is rock steady while the backgrounds and boxing rings look realistic.

I have to say that I really enjoy the sound on this game. Not only is the music appropriate to the game with tracks from Fabulous, Geto-Boys and Czar-Nok who aren't well know, but will certainly gain a lot more popularity after appearing in this game. Commentary is now provided by Joe Tessitore from ESPN and he certainly brings a lot more excitement to the game then the good, but somewhat dull commentary from Big Tigger in previous game. The crowds are also a highlight as they react perfectly to the action in the ring while the Dolby Pro Logic II ensure a truly immersive experience.

Even if you own previous boxing titles from Electronic Arts Fight Night Round 2 is an essential purchase. The number of boxers is impressive while the game modes will keep you playing for weeks on end. The lack of an online mode in PAL territories is disappointing, but this is still and experience that shouldn't be passed up.

Review By: Dave Warner

Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version) or Amazon (NTSC version)
GRAPHICSNever have boxers looks so similar to their real life counterparts.
SOUNDA great soundtrack supports excellent effects and commentary.
GAMEPLAYSimply the most realistic boxing game ever - and fun too!
VALUEC'mon EA. Why don't we get online gameplay too? It's sorely missed.
OVERALLFight Night Round 2 is without a doubt the best boxing game ever seen on a console. Once again the big disappointment for PAL gamers is the lack of online gameplay. Why EA, why? Still if you're a boxing fan this is an essential purchase.

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