Fight Night Champion Review
I love EA Canada. Ranging from ice and puck, to the turf and goal, or the world of speed. They never seem to fail, and always reinvent themselves. Even their NFL series and cancelled NBA Elite were promising and memorable (one more memorable than the other).
Digging right in, I have never played a sports game with a story-led campaign like Fight Night. In fact I couldn’t even name you another sports game with a campaign, and I’m not talking about a career mode. Career modes are strings of exhibition matches making up a sorry excuse of a “Career.” Fight Night delivers you a real campaign, with a real story.
Throw the disc in and before you even get to the main menu, you find yourself on the floor of a ring with a ref beginning the count. You’re bleeding, rocked and strangely bare knuckles. You stand up and try to survive the last thirty seconds of the round. This is one hell of a fight, since you’re not under the lights of the MGM Grand, but surrounded by the iron bars of prison. You ask your coach what he caught you with; maybe an uppercut, angled jab, or overhand hook. The answer is simple—his head. You have to remember this is prison and rules don’t apply. Adding on to this angelic situation, there is no decision, nor number of rounds, it’s last man standing. Hopefully you listen to the words of wisdom coming from your corner, “Knock that f#$@!r on his ass!” After you finish off your opponent the option comes along to continue. You might as well forget about that homework you were pretending to do, because it’s time to become the champ.
I left out a big part of the opening sequence in order to keep this review spoiler-free, but I think you get the idea. The story is riveting, full of dirty boxing managers and corrupt officials; you could mistake that you were fighting under Don King.
Now lets shake off those Goosebumps and talk about the game. Working our way in, the crowd looks terrific, something only EA Canada brings you. You couldn’t watch a better fight on HBO; every big hit gets a roar, and as soon as a fighter becomes rocked the crowd stands to catch the action. Madden just has looped cardboard mannequins standing at any point during a match. Footwork is impressive with so many fighters bringing their own unique style; the noticeable difference is just another added win. Sometimes the simplest attention to details makes massive influence in the atmosphere of a game. Jabs may be something to keep your eye out for though.
Just like Ali used to punch: a jab with the left while the right sags—perfect Ali style. Strangely, many of the fighters have this same technique. I am not sure who their coaches are but it seems slightly suicidal to leave yourself open so often. Actually many of the punches leave you hanging for a counter, which pushes the pace, but as for technique—ghastly.
Any fan of the series would remember the knockdown replays of the past. The replays are fun and revealing for a couple of reasons. The sweat leaving the head as your hit is always entertaining, but sometimes the glove may go into your opponent’s head entirely. No game is perfect, but slowing a punch down to expose its weakness can take some steam out of a knockdown. That being said, it’s as rare as Mewtwo or another old Pokemon reference.
What is there left to say? The true highlight of this game is the campaign and everything else takes sloppy seconds. Commentating is not too repetitive but the color commentator can definitely hang on punches 30 seconds back in the fight. Lighting gathers a glow to the main stage, recognizing all eyes are on you. But who cares about all that stuff, you’re here to see two men punch each other till one’s brain is no longer capable of handling simple cognitive activities or understanding that he’s a male human.
Luckily, though, the great moments of Fight Night outweigh any missteps it may have. Therefore the game is only better for these reasons. Boxing fans would most definitely find a great time in Fight Night Champion. I could only wish to see other sports games take this type of story mentality into their respective franchises to help get rid of repetitive play style (I’m talking to you, Madden). Maybe this will also help bring the ugly duck of sports games into the hardcore community, which from past experience has always been the bastard child. No matter what lies ahead for Fight Night, I will remember their unique style every time I play a sports game this year.
Editor’s Note: Rating-Full Price??