Published on March 4th, 2011 | by G. Bargas, Managing Editor
Fight Night Champion Review
Release Date: March 1, 2011
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 [Reviewed]
Developer: EA Canada
It may be an Olympic sport, but boxing has taken a back seat to faces being demolished by round house kicks to the cranium. With titles like UFC Undisputed, EA MMA, and Supremacy, how does a boxing game holds its ground? With a strong story and beauty of course.
Fight Night Champion strikes in all the right places. The mix of cinematics and even a portion of live action video from ESPN showed off the games style. Whether it is the realistic feel that EA has once again achieved through its sports game’s, or the story that lies in the background of this struggling fighters glory, Fight Night Champion is the real deal in all its feel.
The story for Fight Night Champion takes us behind the fighter, Andre Bishop. While early screens didn’t pit him as the protagonist, they did however give us visions of the now known antagonist to the story Issac Frost. The quality in design in both fighters proves gives them a character all their own, while still providing us with a genuine feel for uniqueness. The glory, the hardships, and of course, a rise or fall of fame will prove to drive this sweat and blood story. While I do not want to spoil anything about this game, at the least, the story mode does play out in a truly interesting tale. Although it does run a little on the short side (about three hours for Champion mode), it does however grasp you by the bare knuckles and give you the old one two hit.
Something that will ensure that these hits are accurate is the familiar button layout. The right analog stick once again aligns the direction in which you will be punching. The left analog is what you will rely on to weaving in and out and move your player around the mat. Although the right analog stick was really responsive in punches, the left suffered from slow movements in tough situations where evasive maneuvers proved to be somewhat clumsy. In one area where a cut was drawn to the eye, providing fluid movements to dodge shots left me stuck by the ropes. The “R1” and “L1” were used to guard and throw body punches, while the rest of the main buttons threw punches as well. Comfortability in movement was left to the player and which way you may choose to knock your opponents block off.
The online mode creates a genuine fighters environment. Although jumping into the ring with Mike Tyson pummeling your head in your first online match is not all that fun, knowing that there is another human on the other does come across as exciting. Players can achieve reining champ titles and continue on their road to glory on their respective consoles online community.
The Legacy mode will allow player to create a custom fighter either on their own merit, with a preloaded template, or with the use of EA Game Face. Players can also import their face from a USB camera. This mode did offer some great customization and unique skill point assignments, but it did also however lack in a few areas. For example, EA MMA allowed for gym training and the visitation to other gyms to learn moves. Although boxing and mixed martial arts are two different sports, they do share some of the same qualities. There is a certain amount of depth that is missing from the training mode that could have given Legacy mode a real fighting finish.
The training that is involved with FNC gives players the ins and outs to the boxing game. Whether it is sparring, or just a simple workout to keep you on your feet, there are plenty of skills to learn in preparation for a fight. The skill system breaks down an almost endless list of punches and moves in order to systematically develop your fighter and even earn them a specialty area, i.e. outside,inside, or strong in either arm. One thing that does lack here is the interaction from a trainer that was found in EA MMA. Although you are being contacted about training, it does lack some personable experiences.
One area that you will find an overall satisfying experience can be found in the graphics department. Fight Night Champion is graphically sound. Whether it is the detail such as the fighters robe as he strolls down the runway to the ring, or it is the trip to the runway itself, authentication was closely monitored to perfection. One example of the overall production the game showcases is when Andre Bishop was heading down the walkway at the Boardwalk in Atlantic City. The laser lights that were going on around the ring were very bright and authentic looking. Also, the floor spot lights that were going off in sequences only illuminated the quality in design of my fighter. Couple that with some killer sound and soundtrack was definitely fitting to the tone of the game, not full of this “jock” rock BS that we are used to in sports games, and they definitely made the experience feel real.
There were only a few areas that could have hindered gameplay. There were a few times where loading caused confusion on screen. While in a championship match during Champion Mode, the game made an awkward cut while my opponent was fighting to find balance on the mat. Without notice during the referee’s count, the loading icon came on the screen. Not knowing what was going on for approximately 20 seconds left me being escorted by the ref to the winning spot on the mat. While this was just one instance, a few times during my corner’s chat left me feeling a little cut short and being thrown back into the ring.
Fight Night Champion is a definite must play. When it comes to being a must own, the shortness of the story mode might deter some from purchasing this title. If you are looking for a customizable experience, Legacy should provide you with the training needed. Online modes offer some hand to hand with players around the world and does not suffer in quality seen on screen. It was a little surprising seeing live action during gameplay, cut with cinematics, but it did not really take me away from the story that was unfolding. EA put a price on beauty and produced an almost perfect rendition of real world boxing.
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