Electronic Arts’ "Fight Night Round 2" hits so hard you’re lucky not to wake up with a black eye the next morning. The game uses every punch in the book to ensure that the outcome is an almost-perfect boxing simulation.

"Round 2" starts where "Fight Night 2004" left off, but the new game improves upon the game play, graphics and career mode.

When the first "Fight Night" hit shelves, it introduced a new way to control a boxer. No longer was button mashing necessary to control a fighter because "2004" made moving and throwing punches as easy as sliding the analog stick in different directions. The left analog stick moved the fighter around the ring, but the use of the right analog stick is what made the "Fight Night" series truly revolutionary.

To throw a straight or a jab, the user simply had to flick the right stick up and to the left or right. Hooks followed a similar motion, making the user fling the stick in a half circle starting from the left or the right to throw the according hook. Uppercuts required the user to pull the stick back in a diagonal direction to the left or right followed by a circular motion.

"Round 2" follows these same simple movements but also allows for the throwing of heavier punches called "EA Sports Haymakers." To throw a power punch, users have to follow the same movements except they must pull back on the stick first as a way of loading the punch. Releasing a haymaker on an opponent is the most effective way of pummeling a challenger to the mat.

Graphically, the game received a total makeover from the development team at EA. The fighters – including Bernard Hopkins, Manny Pacquiao, Ronald "Winky" Wright and legends Muhammad Ali, Joe Frasier and Sugar Ray Leonard – look true to life. As a fight goes on, eyes and cheeks swell, blood runs rivers down competitors’ faces and the referee has no qualms about stopping a fight if the action gets too brutal. The arenas – new ones include a carnival, the Elevese and Atlantic City – are crisp and clean. EA gave attention to every detail, including the faces in the crowd.

The best reason to play "Round 2" is the create-a-boxer mode which allows users to create a fighter in any weight class and fight him through the ranks to earn the championship belt. Designing a fighter is a task in itself. The game takes into full account all facial features of a fighter including eye placement, mouth size and the slope of one’s nose.

Once a fighter is created, he begins the game as an unknown amateur and is pitted against sparring partners while learning the basics of boxing. When the user chooses to take the fighter pro, the game’s real fun begins.

Before every fight, the boxer goes through a training exercise – weight lifting, combo dummy or punching bag – in order to get into shape before the fight. Throughout his career a boxer’s physique improves until he is in top physical form.

Over time, and with a lot of wins, a fighter will advance through the rankings and earn a title shot in his weight class. If a boxer wins the title fight, he can select to defend the title or move up or down a weight class to compete for another championship. After winning two or three titles, the user has the option of trying to unify the belts by fighting a unification bout in order to thrust their fighter into legendary status.

Sometimes when fighting users will experience opponents who cheat by throwing haymaker after haymaker, which can make the game a bit frustrating.

"Fight Night Round 2" takes all the elements that made the first game a winner and polishes them up to create a complete package that puts the knockout punch on its competition.

"Fight Night Round 2" is currently available for PlayStation2, Xbox and GameCube.