Living Up to the Legacy
Two years and a lot of turmoil after the release of the groundbreaking Fight Night Round 4, EA Canada looked to enhance their supremacy of the boxing/fighting sports genre with the very promising Fight Night Champion. The fifth instalment in the Fight Night series promised major changes in the way we play the game, notably a brand new mode; the Champion Mode. To my knowledge, this is a premiere in the business of sports video games: a campaign mode.
I have personally been boxing and hanging around the boxing business for more than eight years now, and Fight Night Round 4 impressed the hell out of me in 2009 with the implementation of total punch control, which allowed the player to understand the importance of every punch in the fight game strategy. I might seem overly critical of Fight Night Champion, and I might not be the most objective judge, but I think that despite tremendous improvements, the cons outweigh the pros and Fight Night Champion is a slightly inferior product to its predecessor.
Thinking like a Champion
Fight Night Champion is a very good game despite its flaws, and Champion Mode alone justifies its legitimacy as another groundbreaking boxing game. You are put in the shoes of Andre Bishop, a well-oiled boxing machine from Philadelphia, whose wings are cut by a shady promoter just as he enters the middleweight top 10. Andre is in jail when the game starts and it is up to you to get him out, using the only thing he has every known: boxing.
The story is a little shallow, most characters and situations are right out of a Hollywood screenwriter playbook, but this bears little importance. The character of Andre is the most realistic boxer I have ever seen in a video game (or a movie for that matter). He has no violent outbursts of temper. He is a kid of the ghetto, he thinks like one and lives only for one thing: boxing. The splash screen where he is pacing around in the locker room before his fights is really well done. If you have ever wondered what it is like to wait for your turn to get socked in the face for thirty minutes, this is it.
During every fight, you have a particular task to accomplish. Beat a nine time Olympic champion, fight with one hand (because the other one is broken), protect a cut, don’t throw body shots because the ref is paid off to mark them as low blows. Every fight is a new challenge and since Andre is such a powerful boxer. It is easy, if you know what you are doing, to corner your opponents and knock them out with the exception of the last boss of the game, which is a daunting (but fun) task. I played on “Pro” (normal mode) and it is safe to say he is in the top 10 of the hardest bosses I have ever fought. Champion mode is incredibly short (took me less than three hours), but it is a breath of fresh air and proved to be a lot of fun.
Champion Mode is a blast, Revamped presentation
Full Spectrum Control is disguised button mashing