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Written by  :  Condemned (76)
Written on  :  Jun 23, 2010
Platform  :  PlayStation 2
Rating  :  3.67 Stars3.67 Stars3.67 Stars3.67 Stars3.67 Stars

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Winner by KO... The Body Snatcher!

The Good

As the name suggests, Fight Night 2 was the second installment of the popular franchise, capitalizing on the success of the first game that had only come out one year prior. Like its predecessor, the game seeks to realistically simulate an actual pugilistic competition between single fighters, and does an admirable job... the player finds themselves immersed in the experience of the boxing world quite easily. The changes made to this version are not exactly extensive (and some are annoying!), but overall it's still a really fun and challenging game.

As usual, I tend to play more as myself via the Create Boxer feature than as the actual real-life boxing personalities included. It's a lot of fun to customize my characters looks, skills, and gear, to debut in Career Mode, and seek to move up the ranks of the boxing elite. I get a lot of enjoyment and often become personally invested in seeing my digital namesake succeed in this imaginary world! When you take a tough loss, the game evokes real emotions of anger and frustration... likewise, when you win, it can feel quite satisfying. As you progress and accomplish certain feats, access to unlockable trunks, boots, etc, allows for further customization of your character.

The game is super fun when playing against another person... battling for bragging rights provides endless entertainment.

I love statistics, and thankfully the game provides plenty of detailed stats for the player to review after each match (# of punches thrown, breakdowns of each punch type, and % of successful punches landed). This allows the player to notice areas for improvement (such as low punch % , throwing too few left-handed punches, etc).

The animation is top-notch for the constraints of the console, appearing smooth and fluid for the mostpart. Slow-motion replays of knockouts are a kick to watch, as the player's face contorts and their body goes limp, perhaps their mouthpiece becomes ejected and flies out of frame... and if they hit the ropes on their way down, it can often make for hilarious falling sequences, limbs flapping clumsily!

In-match commentary is pretty well done, mostly, and I found it pretty inoffensive even after many matches. This is not usually the case in sports titles.

The Bad

One of the new features added to this sequel was the "Haymaker" punch, a powerful and potentially devastating manuever that requires a complicated manipulation of the right analogue stick. I seem to have a difficult time executing this punch, let alone landing it. Yet, CPU opponents routinely throw 100 or more per match! Seems like the player is at a disadvantage if they can't master this one punch-type.

AI capabilities are questionable, there seems to be limited adaptation from fight to fight... for instance, I jab a lot and score easy points with this method, wearing down my opponent and opening up heavier offense. However, rarely does an opponent "learn" this behavior and exploit my rigidity.

On a similar note, it would be nice if you could prepare for fights with more specific intelligence on your next opponent, such as his tendencies and techniques. In this game, all you receive in advance is his name, record, and attribute level.

In Career Mode, the only way to improve your boxer's attributes is to complete a mini-game between scheduled fights. The player is allowed only 1 mini-game (of 3), with each mini-game offering certain benefits (i.e. "Combo Dummy" can improve Speed, Agility, Stamina, and Heart attributes, whereas "Heavy Bag" favors Power attributes). These mini-games can be fun and challenging at first, but tedious as the only means for improving your boxer after many plays. Plus, you're only allowed one mini-game before your next fight - this is especially frustrating when you're first starting out in your Career and your boxer needs help in all areas... Also, as your boxer ages, the mini-games become pointless - you can exceed the number of required points for success and still LOSE attribute points. I understand the concept of an older boxer losing skill, but not when stated point totals are reached/exceeded!

I found the selection of gear items (trunks, gloves, etc) limited, and mostly impractical. There are very few choices at first, with most items unlockable only after accomplishments have been met. It's great to have real boxers' trunks, but I'm unlikely to create a boxer that's already in the game, and my boxer doesn't need trunks with someone else's name written on them. Also, certain items carry attribute bonuses, but this is weird - how can my trunks improve my ability to take punches?

In an effort to have the announcer call your character's name as he enters the ring, there is a list of nicknames to choose for your boxer (i.e. The Body Snatcher, "The Undertaker"). I have mixed feelings about this system, as none of the nicknames really apply to my boxer... yet maybe it's better than nothing? It does get really annoying when your opponent has the same nickname as your boxer, and based on the commentary, you can't tell who is being talked about favorably or unfavorably!

Between rounds, you can listen to each boxers' trainer as they give advice, and it kind of gives the player a window on how the match is progressing. This commentary becomes repetitious and is often inaccurate and contradictory - for example, your trainer might say "Alright! Great job kid!"... then follow with "We did not win that last round, son." Nonsensical. Before each fight, the player selects items for the fight invoice - which song to play as he enters, what model will enter with him, etc. Each comes with a monetary price and a benefit (a certain song or model may improve your Heart attribute). This is kind of lame, because you may hate a certain song, but have to choose it because you want the attribute bonus. Also, you can't control your player's actions as they enter... they may jump around like an idiot, totally out of character. As well, a champion does not enter with his title belt around his waist (or anywhere else). Small gripe.

I noticed occasional glitches with the ranking system in Career Mode, such as a boxer disappearing from the ranks completely without notice of retirement. Also, I was defeated for my Light-Heavyweight title by one character, and when I checked the rankings directly afterward, a different guy was listed as the champion. Strange.

The Bottom Line

This is a really fun game, best enjoyed with other competitive people to challenge. Career Mode is challenging and engrossing, as you seek to move up the professional ranks. There are newer Fight Nights out there, but this installment stands on its own merits and provides an enjoyable boxing experience.