Review: Fight Night Champion
We've said it before and we will say it again: EA are the best when it comes to making sports games. Fight Night Champion is no exception and is the long awaited new and smooth addition to the series. It truly is an excellent game and pays tribute to a seriously underrated sport.
- Worth The Time?Yes
- Things LovedThe Champion (story mode), The roster of 50 boxers, the smoothness, the full spectrum of punches, the blood, sweat, saliva and the Ring Girls (I may have summoned klutch)
- Things HatedNo South African Boxers or venues. While there is nothing real to hate, there are a few small glitches. For example, at times the water bottle doesn't really go into the boxer's mouth between rounds. The linear story mode. Legacy Mode. While these don't amount to hates, they could have been done a little better.
- RecommendationThis is a definite buy for boxing and fighting game fans. It can be played as a game and as a social game. It really is fun and serious. Overall it's just a great tribute to boxing. Love the champion mode -- and that's coming straight from the heart. Fight Night Champion can get a little frustrating at times, but this is true with all games.
- Name: Fight Night Champion
- Genre: Fighting
- Players: 1-2
- Multiplayer: local, online
- Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360
- Developer: EA Canada
- Publisher: EA Games
- Price: R550
- Reviewed On: PS3
Fight Night Champion
This will be a 5 round review followed by a judges decision at the end.
The Match Up:
Fight Night Champion vs. T. Ahmed
The pre-match amp up in locker room:
As soon as you insert the disk you will quite literally be thrown into a bloody brutality known as boxing. I do not want to give to much away, but you will enter into the prologue of the Champion Mode, or story mode. After you take care of business you have the option of diving right in and going for the knock down by continuing with the story mode or to explore the menu and see what this title has to offer.
Fight Night Champion has taken a gritter, darker stance on the sport representing it in its true setting with animations and player damage that “truly conveys the brutality of the sport of boxing.”
Obviously if boxing or fighting games aren’t your thing you will not enjoy this. If you don’t like blood and bruises we advise you go to the teletubbies website now.
Round 1 — Champion Mode:
‘Champion Mode’ is the first of it’s kind in the fight night series and is welcomed. It is a nice break from the modes we are accustomed to in EA sports games. Usually screens in between matches containing relevant information, statistics, etc.
Now there is a Hollywood inspired full story mode that would actually make a good film. Mainly because it is inspired by films. The story mode follows the career of talented fictitious boxer Andre Bishop.
(This is quite difficult to do with out giving away too much of the story so beware!)
You will follow Bishop through his rise, his fall and his rise again.
Andre Bishop is a convicted boxer serving time in a correctional facility. While imprisoned, he participates in regular jailhouse boxing matches against other inmates. After winning one of the fights, he is confronted by his opponent, and several other inmates, who outnumber and violently beat him. He wakes up days later, only to find that he was close to death.
The game then flashes back four years earlier, to Andre’s initial rise as a boxer in the middleweight division. He manages to win a gold medal at an amateur boxing tournament and is named player of the tournament. Isaac Frost, heavyweight gold medalist at the tournament, dismisses Andre and his talent. Andre then begins to climb the ranks as a professional middleweight under the management and training of Gus, his mentor and father-figure.
While training, the two are visited by fight promoter DL McQueen and his daughter Meagan. McQueen offers to promote and manage Andre, but Gus refuses, claiming that McQueen is crooked and abandons fighters once they have reached their peak. McQueen is outraged and leaves. However, Andre is later confronted by McQueen alone who attempts to persuade him once more, even mentioning that Andre’s brother Raymond has promising talent. Andre refuses, and warns McQueen to stay away from him and his brother. Soon after, two crooked cops confront Andre alone at the gym. Not knowing they are cops, Andre is intimidated and attacks them, only to be arrested and sentenced to several years in prison for unlicensed firearm possession (which was planted on him by the cops).
It goes on from there.
Every single boxing movie cliché is in Champion Mode, but it still succeeds in intriguing you as a player and by being enjoyable, very enjoyable.
Champion Mode plays a little differently from the rest of the game. You will be forced to use strategies because in certain fights scenarios are presented. For example you have to play smartly against a certain opponent that focuses on body shots so you have to stay on the outside and avoid body shots. The judges are bought, so the only way you can win is through a K.O victory, etc. This aspect really makes the story compelling and definitely worth the play.
As mentioned before, there are cinematic cut scenes between matches and sometimes between rounds. The story is told through them and it helps the story progress nicely.
Post Round Comments:
Although compelling at times, the scenarios can be a little frustrating. Mainly because you are forced to play in a certain way. I also mentioned that the story is linear. It can be excused, but every single fight has to be won. It could of had a little more depth incorporating losses, but it’s a small complaint. Overall the champion mode is highly entertaining and will have you wanting to finish it in one go, just like heroine. The thing is don’t. Take it in small doses and you will cherish it. True story.
Round 2 — Fight Now:
This can be seen as the traditional exhibition mode. You have the option of playing against the computer or Player vs. Player. Obviously there can only be a maximum of two player because it is a boxing game.
Fight Night Champion has the biggest roster of the entire series. The Roster contains more than 50 boxers. Ranging from legends such as Muhammed Ali and Mike Tyson as well as current champions and rising contenders. Sadly however there are no South African boxers present and we have had our fair share of great fighters.
I mean between 1927 and 2001, 35 South African fighters won a total of 49 world boxing titles. The number of South African world champions peaked in the 1990s. The country had six world champions in 1995, five the following year and six in 1997. In 1998 the number stood at eight, and in 1999 at five world title holders. (For more South African boxing history go here.)
I believe this title could have done some of them justice.
In the Heavy Weight Division:
|David Haye||Cristobal Arreola||Eddie Chambers||Eric Esch|
|Evander Holyfield||George Foreman||Joe Frazier||Lennox Lewis|
|Mike Tyson||Muhammad Ali||Sonny Liston||Tommy Morrison|
|Vitali Klitschko||Wladimir Klitschko|
In the Light Heavy Weight Division:
|Bernard Hopkins||Chad Dawson||Joe Calzaghe||Roy Jones Jr|
In the Middle Weight Division:
|Anthony Mundine||Carlos Monzon||Danny Jacobs||Erislandy Lara|
|Fernando Vargas||Jake Lamotta||Jermain Taylor||Kelly Pavlik|
|Marvin Hagler||Peter Manfredo Jr||Ray Leonard||Ray Robinson|
|Ronald Wright||Sergio Mora|
In the Welterweight Division:
|Zab Judah||Emanuel Augustus||Julio Cesar Chavez||Kendall Holt|
|Manny Pacquiao||Miguel Cotto||Oscar De La Hoya||Ray Leonard|
|Ricky Hatton||Shane Mosley||Thomas Hearns||Tim Bradley|
In the Light Weight Division:
|Diego Corrales||Pernell Whitaker||Robert Guerrero||Roberto Duran|
|Vinny Paz||Jesse James Leija|
In the Featherweight Division:
|Billy Dib||Yuriorkis Gamboa||Kevin Kelley|
In the Bantamweight Division:
In addition to the welcomed amount of boxers there are a fair number of famous venues including the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Players also have the options of playing and selected gyms.
Post Round Comments:
There is absolutely nothing to complain about, except the lack of South Africans, but it’s not a Knock Out.
Round 3 — Game Modes:
There are two game modes; Legacy Mode and Training.
This is your more traditional experience. Legacy Mode allows you to use a boxer from the magnificent roster or create a boxer using a USB camera, or templates. You will build your boxer up through training camps and he rise through the ranks from the amateur tournaments to the championship game.
The boxer creation process is quite easy and has enough options for you to create exactly what you want. An entrance, fighting style, weight class, beard. It can all be decided by you.
Another welcomed point is that there are licensed products to chose from, so you can kit out your entrance robe, all the way to your mouth guard.
Legacy Mode is Fight Night. You create your boxer and take him from an unknown amateur to the greatest of all time.
You will have to schedule your own fights and plan training sessions as well as do publicity for events. Most importantly, you will decide when you have to rest. Unlike the story mode there is no option to restart a fight if you aren’t doing too well. This is great as it prevents a linear path. Players will have to train their boxers by attending training camps at various gyms. Gyms with more prestige offer better training, although it comes at a price. Players will have to pay to attend camps.
Note that I said “Legacy Mode is Fight Night” this is not a positive statement. If the whole game could be like the champion mode it would have been one of the greatest games of all time. But no. Legacy mode is a long experience. I still strongly feel that it could have been integrated into Champion Mode, having us manage Andre Bishop with all the action, blood, sweat, tears, drama and emotion.
Champion Mode makes the game feel real, whilst Legacy Mode makes it feel oh-so boring. If you are looking for that kind of experience it is great but compared to Champion Mode, it just doesn’t hold up. Don’t get me wrong it is a comprehensive experience, but the human element is lacking.
This contains all the training mini-games, so to say, that Legacy Mode contains. You can practice with any boxer including your own and earn Experience (XP) to put toward their attributes respectively.
Post Round Comments:
The core of the game succeeds at pleasing, although it lacks that small aspect that makes boxing so profound; the drama. As good as the gameplay mechanics are the match-ups really end up feeling very exhibition-like. I feel that EA noticed this, and added Champion Mode.
Round 4 — Online:
The only way to really enjoy Legacy Mode in Fight Night is online. Although you still start off way too underpowered, the online setup is clever and well worth EA investing in for the future. Players can create their own gyms, which others can join. It’s basically a boxing clan. There are tournaments as well as regular online bouts. It’s a great idea, and if taking on real people is what you prefer, then the online modes will do the trick for you.
There is also a boxer share option that allows you to do exactly that. You can share your created boxers and download any shared boxer.
Post Round Comments:
EA will always have servers and let you play online. Worth it, if you want to build your own fighter.
Round 5 — Gameplay:
The final round — the one that we have all been waiting for.
Fight Night Champion has amazing gameplay. It is smooth and effective. The most notable feature is the full spectrum punch control. Now many of you may ask “Just what is that?”
Here lies your answer:
Every punch is thrown by flicking the analogue stick quickly in a specific direction. This punching system not only speeds up the flow of a bout, but also puts the emphasis of your fighting skills on your strategy. It’s nice to know you are definitely throwing an uppercut rather than hoping you made the right movements with the thumbstick to pull one off. You can still attempt a ridiculous rapid-punch session, but the penalty of exhausting your fighter quickly is severe. No one can really play like a n00b and have long-term success with Fight Night.
Previous Fight Nights had a similar punching concept, except it was much more complicated and had you worrying more about if you pulled of the analogue movement properly rather than your boxing. I welcome this new system. It really speeds things up and makes it smoother overall. In addition to the analogue stick buttons can be used to throw punches.
Fight Night Champion really shows the price that boxers pay when entering the ring.
The imprint of your glove can be seen on your opponents face if you tag them hard enough, the severity of a cut is noticeable. From a small scrape, to a deep gash and once the blood starts flowing. You will see the blood because it will be all over the ring, as well as on your trunks.
As for the AI; it’s smart. It really feels like your are playing an individual in the ring. No boxer fights the same. For example Ali will play with you in the ring, whilst Tyson will try and destroy you. Fighters react well to situations. If you’re in the seventh round and they know they’re losing on points, they might become more aggressive. If cut, they are often overly protective of that side of their face, like a real boxer would be.
With Fight Night Champion you will have to strategise and fight smart. You could be wining, but carelessness could result in the brutal one-punch-knockout.
Post Round Comments:
The gameplay is what makes this game special. It really does not disappoint.
The review has reached it’s end. Now it is time for the judges to decide.
The Judges Decision:
The judges have come to a unanimous decision.
…and the winner is Fight Night Champion!
As we look at the summary of the scorecard:
Fight Night Champion really impressed the judges in the first 2 rounds, with T. Ahmed winning the 3rd. However Fight Night Champion came back in the last two round to win.
Fight Night Champion gets boxing right and is an experience that all should, well experience. Minus the Legacy Mode. I recommend this to all fighting game lovers and boxing fans. Fight Night Champion is really a pleasure to play. Minus the Legacy Mode.
For some reason boxing is seen as the ultimate “motivational” sport. Fight Night Champion offers exactly that — from the Champion Mode. There are memorable quotes and music throughout the game. It really is a true upper, and again, makes for an enjoyable experience. Minus the Legacy Mode.