We always like a bit of a punch-up to start the week, so we're pleased to see these new screens of Fight Night, Electronic Arts' follow-up to their long-running Knockout Kings series.
Compared to its predecessors, the main difference you'll notice is in the interface - a system called Total Punch Control makes use exclusively of the analogue sticks, with nary a hint of button bashing in sight. At first, we were having horrible flashbacks to Square's early PS2 grappling game All Star Pro Wrestling, which utilised a similar analogue-only control system.
Fortunately, Fight Night plays nothing like that and, once you get your head round the slightly odd concept of a fighting game in which you don't have to hit the buttons at all, the controls work surprisingly well. So if, for instance, you want to execute a left jab, you sharply push the left stick up, while a wide loop on the right stick should result in a right hook.
The idea is that the game is based more on skill than on being able to mash the buttons as quickly as possible. Ergo, there's as much emphasis on defence as on offensive moves: pressing R1 and the analogue sticks blocks punches, while L1 allows for upper body control, so you can lean from side-to-side to dodge blows. The new system also means you can fake punches by simply moving the analogue sticks a little.
Visible damage to your fighter comes in the shape of cuts, bruises, blood sprays, eyes swelling shut and facial deformity, all of which affects your pugilist's ability to fight, while getting up from knockdowns utilises a unique system in which you have to lock together three suitably blurry images of the referee.
The roster of 32 licensed boxers is typically comprehensive and includes Lennox Lewis, Joe Frazier, Muhammad Ali, Roy Jones Jr, James Toney, Derrick Gainer, Roberto Duran, Felix Trinidad and Evander Holyfield but, sadly, not Frank Bruno. Gaaah.
Fight Night will be released for PS2 and Xbox in April