While the sport of boxing is slowly being battered into submission by its delinquent cousin, UFC, the reverse is true in the gaming world. While the recent UFC 2009 offered surprisingly deep and engaging gameplay, it's incapable of matching the refinement on offer in EA's Fight Night Round 4.
Building on a pedigree that goes all the way back to Knockout Kings, Fight Night Round 4 takes the speed and versatile controls that made Round 3 such an enjoyably furious game, and adds to them with a new physics engine that lets the game take into account a fighter's size and style - no longer do rangey hitters like Thomas Hearns handle in the same way as swarming infighters like Miguel Cotto. Individual fighters now suit individual styles, a fact that makes the game all the more challenging and absorbing, as you figure out not only the subtle blend of offensive and defensive controls, but also the particular specialities of any given fighter.
On top of the major changes, there are a host of minor tweaks, including an improved get-up game, a repair points system that adds a tactical element to your recovery between rounds, and a general graphical polish. Taken as a whole, the effect of the changes, major and minor, is to make Fight Night Round 4 the best boxing sim we've ever played, and a frantically enjoyable online brawler as well. You can watch a full Fight Night Round 4 review here.