I’ve had a fascination with boxing games since the day I walked into The Golden Nugget in Whitley Bay and heard the immortal words booming out: “Ladeeez and Gentlemeeeen – Glass Joe!”. That Punch Out machine was LOUD!
Sadly, there haven’t been that many boxing games that you could truly count as ‘great’. The aforementioned Punch Out, obviously, Barry McGuigan’s Boxing on the Commodore 64 was another, maybe Frank Bruno’s Boxing, Super Punch Out on the SNES and then Knockout Kings 2000 on the PS1 was enjoyable. That’s not that many, so thankfully fight fans can now add Fight Night 2004 to the list.
“Go on son, get stuck in.”
The main thing you need to know about Fight Night 2004 is that it feels like you’re in a boxing match. The control method is a work of genius, and you immediately wonder why all boxing games haven’t used this control method in the past. The right analogue stick is used to throw punches, a simple jab up and left or right will throw a jab, moving to the side and up throws a hook, and moving down then around and up throws an uppercut. No more button mashing, you now throw your punches and you have the ability to pick and choose your hits. It feels brilliant, and works better than you could imagine.
“Here I am, rock you like a hurricane. Yes, that’s meant to be me.”
Of course, you’ve got all the usual bells and whistles; career mode (which ends at 40, where’s the realism?), all-star boxers from past and present, huge amounts of unlockables which are a bit shit, to be frank, and of course, training. Having to suffer training modes is usually a nightmare that you want to skip (and you can if you want to), but you’ll find that each exercise does actually help you learn how to play the game, so for once you might actually feel like ploughing through it.
“Kids, eat your greens and play this game, and you too could
look like this.”
After a few hours, my boxer had developed into quite a handy fighter and my right bicep had developed a pain similar to the effect of throwing fifteen rounds of punches. For a change, though, I actually felt as though I had become a better boxer, not just better at hitting the right buttons. Learning how to bob and weave, stick and move and punch and counter punch is quite an art, “the sweet science” in fact, and it elevates this from a punchy pug to number 1 contender.
Any time I play a game that leaves a physical effect on me, I’m impressed. If you’ve got a liking for a digital fat lip, Fight Night 2004 will give you that and a lot more besides.
RODENT CASH RATING -
"Ah’ll do ye up a treat, sonny!"