Fight Night Ro…I mean Fight Night Champion is set to release March 1st. This game looks to improve upon the success of Round 4 and raise the bar for boxing games. With this being the first Fight Night that is rated M and featuring a story mode, we’ll let you know how it stacks up! I’m going to be honest with you, I’m not a big boxing fan. I’m more into MMA if anything, but the one thing I do enjoy is playing the Fight Night games. Last year when I got my hands on Round 4, EA introduced the analog control to the franchise. It was well received by some, but had an outcry of people who wanted the face buttons back. We’ll see if this year’s version is simply the Greatest Of All Time or stumbles and falls from an illegal headbutt.



Fight Night Champion
Playstation 3 & Xbox 360
1-2 Player/Online Multiplayer
Developer & Publisher: Electronic Arts
ESRB Rating: M For Mature
Price: $59.99




Pros
Controls: Like I said earlier, Round 4 gave you one button configuration. You just had the analog stick to work with and that didn’t sit well with some people. This year, they give you a mixture between using the analog or face buttons for your punches this year. Also, the gesture for a punch thing is GONE. Just move your analog stick in a certain direction and your boxer will execute a wide array of punches. I think things just flow a lot smoother with this type of control scheme than when I’m using the face buttons. Combos come out a lot cleaner, faster, and it leaves the option open for a brawlfest!


Visuals: Boxing has never looked so good than in Fight Night Champion. It’s one of the prettiest boxing games out right now and it captures the grittiness of the sport. From player models, seeing muscles flex in real time as you deliver that final K.O. punch to simple things like your opponent’s hair getting messed up as the fight goes on from being punched or blood staining the mat and your clothes. Everything you desire to see in a boxing game is here visually and it is done very well.


Legacy Mode: HEY THQ, TAKE NOTES! THIS IS HOW A BIG PUBLISHER WITH A SPORTS LICENSE CREATES AN AWESOME CAREER MODE. Legacy has always been an in-depth mode that lets you take your created or existing boxer through a LONG and fulfilling career. This year, they start you from amateur boxing to making your pro debut. It still gives you the option to retire when you want, but it also gives you a new way to train and a new stamina management system. You’ll find yourself enjoying the training games a lot more than in last game and building your stats in this mode comes with great rewards. Legacy Mode, still one of the best career modes out there.


Gameplay: Aside from the controls, they’ve made some upgrades to the gameplay during a match. One thing that you will immediately notice is how your stamina is split up and is now an important factor when facing off against someone. Endurance and conditioning stats come into play here, and if not good, will be the difference between winning and losing a match.


Middle Ground
Flash KO?!: While a welcomed feature to the series that adds realism to this game, There are some punches that SHOULD NOT cause a KO. There were some moments where a light punch, or punch that looked like it wouldn’t hurt somebody landed and caused a KO.


Online: Its a gift and a curse for EA Sports games. A lot of options available for online but the matchmaking can be slow. You have the option of doing unranked or ranked matches, online gyms, world championships, and tons more. These modes make this one of the best online experiences to date for Fight Night. However, it took some time for me to find an opponent which will hopefully get fixed later down the line.


Champion Mode: Fight Night Champion gets a story mode! For a first try, this was a pretty good story. The cutscenes were well done and the music scores during this mode really sets the mood for each fight. My gripe with it is that I’m not into the whole “From Rags to Riches” type storylines. In the end, it’s rewarding but short. You can possibly breeze through this mode in 4-8 hours depending on your skill.



Cons
KO Hit Detection: This is somewhat a continuation from FLASH KO!? There are moments where a punch doesn’t connect but yet, makes a big enough impact to stun my guy. This can get annoying at times and this isn’t the only game that suffers from this. THQ’s UFC games as of recent have this same flaw.


Overall/Verdict
Fight Night Champion delivers a great boxing experience to your home console. If you can get pass the minor hiccups in the game, you have a very deep and entertaining boxing game. When this game drops, go out and get it. You’ll want to with all the brawling that’s going to happen on this game!

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