Mike Mahar, producer
Styles make fights. It’s an old boxing adage that succinctly describes how the boxing styles of two combatants determines the type of fight they will have. If you put two cutesy southpaw counter-punchers in against each other and you’re probably not looking forward to a barnburning slugfest. If you put to face-first, take-two-to-give-one sluggers in against each other and you probably won’t have an exhibition of outstanding defensive technique on your hands. Creating a diverse set of boxing styles for the AI in Fight Night Round 4 has been a focus since the early stages of development. There are a lot of things that make up a boxer’s style. First off, you have the stance: orthodox or southpaw. An interesting twist in Fight Night Round 4 is the addition of independent power ratings for each hand. This allows you to make a southpaw boxer with a dominant right hand, or vice versa. The boxing world is full of natural southpaws that were converted to fight right-handed by trainers early in their career. In Fight Night Round 4 you can simulate that effect with created boxers and you can expect licensed boxers that fought this way to have their attributes reflect that.
The way a boxer positions their feet and holds their hands is probably one of the most recognizable facets of their boxing style. It’s the kind of thing that you can look at for one or two seconds and get a sense for what kind of boxer they are. Boxers like Roy Jones Jr, George Foreman and Emanuel Augustus are very distinct from one another. Roy holds his lead hand low baiting his opponents to throw something so he can use his speed and reflexes to defend and counter. George Foreman held his hands high and stalked towards his opponents waiting to unleash the fury the moment their backs touched the ropes. Emanuel Augustus, well, I don’t think anybody has really figured that guy out just yet. Fight Night Round 4 features a wide variety of different ways for boxers to stand and hold their hands that allows us to recreate the style of all the licensed boxers and allows you, the user, to create a huge variety of virtual opponents.
On top of the boxer’s stance and hand position there are a 3 different base punch styles and 3 different base block styles to choose from. With the new physics system, the different punches and block styles have subtle differences in how the punches contact the target or how the blocks cover against incoming punches. Another interesting addition in Fight Night Round 4 is the ability to select your boxer’s best punch and give it a boost. This doesn’t make it a crazy animation. Joe Frazier’s left hook didn’t look really different than other left hooks – until it landed. No more Sinister Cross or Judge Jab. The system is more balanced but it still allows us to customize fighters to match their real life counterparts.
But a boxer’s style really comes down to their strategic approach when they step inside the ropes. For Fight Night Round 4 we developed 8 base boxing styles that we assigned to every licensed boxer. Then we tweaked and tuned these base styles to make them each boxer’s strengths and mimic the way they fight (or fought) in real life. The 8 base styles include:
A boxer that sticks to the fundamentals and tries to set things up with the jab.
A boxer that eschews the fundamentals for a more dynamic approach.
A roughhouse power puncher that likes to throw bombs, thinks the best defense is a good offense.
Another power puncher, but one that shows more defensive ability.
A slippery, in-the-pocket defensive style fighter.
A boxer that takes a conventional approach to setting up his big punches at medium distance.
A close range boxer-puncher that moves his head and tries to control the ring and work the body.
A stick and move fighter that focuses on keeping the opponent at the end of their punches.
One of the really great things it that using the Create Boxer feature, you can assign one of these 8 base styles to any boxer you create, which allows you to ensure that when you create one of your favorite legends and import him into your Legacy Mode as an opponent, he won’t end up dancing around the ring when you want him to be an aggressive puncher. When it all comes together and you combine the different animations, boxer styles and boxer attributes with the differences in height and reach, you can really see big diversity between the boxers you face inside the ropes in Fight Night Round 4.