Fight Night Round 5 Wishlist

August 15, 2009 in Boxing, Game Reviews by pacejmiller


The physics engine was one of the things FNR4 had going for it

[See my review of Fight Night Round 4 here: Part 1 – Features, Part 2 – Gameplay, Part 3Legacy Mode]

I know Fight Night Round 4 (FNR4) has just been released and it will most probably be years before we see Fight Night Round 5 (FNR5), my recent review (with many complaints) has prompted questions about what I would like to see if the game came to fruition in the future.  Anyway, here is my wishlist for FNR5 – so EA, if you’re reading, please take note.

1. Controls – I like the whole Total Punch Control system with the right analog stick, but please make the face buttons usable as well (and not only through DLC when people complained).  The fighters also need to be able to dash forward to add more force to the blows or step backwards or sideways quickly to avoid blows (for example the Victorious Boxers series).   Ducking to avoid blows also seems to have been almost completely forgotten.


Whatever happened to the good old fashioned duck?

2. Camera angles – have different choices for camera angles available during gameplay.  Some people like the see the whole ring, some people like to see things up close, some like the POV camera.  Give them a choice.

3. Referees – have more than 2 (or at least not have the same one for amateur and World Title fights) and have them more involved in the fight – be more vocal, be more physical – maybe have them visible when using certain camera angles (see above).  I want to see a referee separating a clinch or indicating that a fighter has just lost a point for an illegal blow.

4. Health bars – I don’t mind the system with the health, stamina, block and damage bars, but it often becomes the focal point of a fight to the detriment of the gameplay.  I would prefer the option to turn those things off so you can just focus on the fight at hand and not on trying to expend your opponent’s bars.  It would make the fight more unpredictable.

5. Knockdowns – lots of problems with FNR4.  I want to see more variety in animations when a fighter has been knocked down and is trying to get up.  I want to see fighters struggling and wobbly after getting up from a knockdown.  I want to see fighters knocked out cold and fights ending without a count.  I want to see the Zab Judah dance.  EA needs to watch a lot of actual KO footage and emulate that realism.

6. Ending a fight – more realism is needed here too.  As above, I would like to see referees stopping a fight without administering a count.  I would like to see referees stepping in when a fighter is being battered defensively or is seriously hurt but still on his feet.  I would like to see fighters quitting on their stools.  I would like to see corners throwing in the towel.  I would like to see doctors being called to the ring to check a cut and then declaring a fighter unable to continue.  None of this crap in FNR4 where the fight is stopped out of the blue because the damage meter is full.  I want to see the cut or the swelling or the bruising grow round by round.  Stuff the age rating – I wanna see realism!  Most of all I want to see fighters being carried out on stretchers!  Oh, and what about cuts from accidental head butts and technical draws and technical decisions?  There are so many possible endings for a fight but FNR4 only covers a few.  And while they’re at it, they should vary up the animations as well – it gets boring looking at the same reactions after every single fight.  Don’t need a lot, but is three or four too much to ask?

7. Clinching – I want to see opponents utilise more clinching.  Right now the opponent only clinches when they are on the verge of being knocked down.  Right now you can clinch by just pressing a button.  It’s a fine line between realism and boredom, but I think EA can find the right balance.  Perhaps have more ‘natural’ clinches as a result of fighters being in close proximity to each other.  Furthermore, allow boxers to throw punches and illegal blows in clinches like in real life – something I think they used to have in EA boxing games but for some reason no more.

8. Illegal blows – this is another area that has been underdeveloped in my opinion.  Boxing games have forever had illegal blows, but they are always arbitrary and bleeding obvious.  You always get away with it the first time and you only get disqualified if you keep doing it after having points deducted.  Mix it up a little.  And if they want to make things realistic, make the moves look more subtle.  Allow them in clinches.  Don’t have the obvious winding low blow aimed right at the balls.  Don’t have the clear thrusting head butt.  Disguise them a little.  Make them interesting.

9. The ropes – even as far back as the NES days, wrestling games have allowed the utilisation of the ropes surrounding the ring.  However, for some reason or other, they have been the forgotten element in boxing games.  The ropes can be used in so many ways in real life boxing, but in FNR4 they’re basically there to trap you.  EA needs to put in some effort and allow boxers to voluntarily use the ropes on both offense and defense.


Use the ropes!

10. Damage and stamina – one of the major criticisms I reserved for FNR4 was the fact that you can easily land over 500 power punches against your opponent and yet they barely wince at the end of the fight.  I know EA would like the fights to last a little while, but they need to tip the balance towards realism.  Make punches count more (especially jabs) on the damage meter.  Make each punch take out more from the stamina meter so they can’t keep throwing 10 punch combinations without tiring out.  It will make the game more realistic and tactical.

11. Weight classes – FNR4 has improved in this regard but it still doesn’t reflect real life.  There are currently 8 weight classes in FNR4, from Flyweight to Heavyweight, half the number of real weight classes in real life.  It’s not a huge problem in Legacy Mode because weight management does not come into play, but if it does, then they need to have the full 16 weight classes.  In ‘Play Now’ mode, boxers cannot fight an opponent more than 2 weight classes above or below, which prohibits some interesting match ups.  The licensed boxers are squeezed into one of the 8 weight classes in the game, which makes things a little restrictive.  A better way to approach this would have been to provide a sliding scale for each boxer to pick their weight for a fight (rather than their weight class), which would automatically scale a boxer’s ratings and their looks.  So for example, if you turn Manny Pacquiao into a Super-Middleweight, he’s going to look a bit fat and his speed rating will reduce dramatically.  Of course, the range of weight classes a fighter can be in will depend on their height (and possibly body type), so you won’t see Muhammad Ali anywhere say below Super-Middleweight.


Games like PSP's Boxer's Road 2 have all 16 weight classes and multiple title belts

12. Create a boxer – on its face, FNR4’s ‘Create a Boxer’ looks pretty good, especially with the ability for users to upload photos to create boxers or download boxers created by others on EA Sportsworld.  However, there are many improvements that can be made.  For starters, the amount of choice is extremely limited.  The number of hairstyles available is atrocious.  There are no tattoos to choose from.  No ears to choose from.  There’s no ability to access the ‘Advanced Sliders’ unless you use a photograph, and even those sliders are rather limited, restricting your ability to create a truly realistic counterpart.  FNR5 needs to take a page out of some other games out there with the ‘Create’ function and make some drastic improvements.  Perhaps future DLCs for FNR4 can do something to address this.

13. Career/Legacy Mode – my biggest problem with FNR4 was with its Legacy Mode.  Strongly hyped before release, Legacy Mode was not only one dimensional, it lacked excitement, realism and player freedom.  It consisted essentially of training mini-games and fights, with a number of gimmicks such as emails and a new ranking system to prevent you from boring to death.  FNR5 needs to fully revamp Legacy Mode to make it a real boxer ‘career’ simulation.  After all, it’s what will keep gamers returning to play the game.

legacy mode training

Forget about the training mini-games

First, bring money back to the game.  Start off with the low paying fights then work your way up to the big PPV paydays.  Second, allow players to actually use the money – to buy equipment, to switch gyms, to hire trainers, managers, cutmen, promoters, sparring partners, etc.  Third, make the training not rely exclusively on mini-games, which should be at most an opportunity for boxers to earn ‘bonus’ rating points.  Have a more dynamic rating system that corresponds with the training.  Take a page out of boxing games such as Boxer’s Road and Victorious Boxers 2, where training affects different muscle groups, and are actually reflected in the boxer’s physical appearance.  If they do weights, expect bigger muscles.  If they do sit ups, expect more defined abs.  These are little things that add to the realism.  Fourth, consider adding weight management to the game.  Some people might not like managing what a boxer eats for every meal, so perhaps make this an optional inclusion that gamers can choose.  Fifth, have the trainer actually teach you things, constructive things that you can use in a fight.  Allow players to watch videos of their upcoming opponents and discuss their strengths and weaknesses with your trainer.  Sixth, allow for injuries during a fight (or even during training if you overtrain) which affect the boxer’s ratings and/or ability to train.  Seventh, consider putting in contract negotiations.  Discuss your share of the purse.

Well, these are just some suggestions.  Don’t get me wrong, I really like playing FNR4, but I think it could have been so much more, especially the Legacy Mode.  Hopefully EA can make another leap with FNR5, whenever they get around to developing it.