Fight Night Champion
A two year break between iterations isn’t something we’re used to, especially not with sports games and especially not with EA, but it’s exactly what we’ve been presented with in Fight Night Champion. While the framework we were presented with in our extended demo session of the game looked to be very much the Fight Night we know, there were a fair few elements changed, tweaked or otherwise mixed up, justifying the longer wait.
The smaller changes are too numerous to mention, but the biggest of them all is the overhaul to the punching and blocking mechanics. It’s still the total punch control scheme we know and (some) love, but there are changes to how you input punches. Arcing motions, sweeping the stick in quarter-circles and the like, have been done away with. Instead, the input relies more on stick flicks and, as we have been assured, leads to ‘more punch variety’.
We certainly saw this with the heavy jabs and straights from David Haye, replacing the old system that relied on haymakers for the heavy punch roster. Blocking has also seen a few changes – it is now reflexive, meaning the computer does the hard work for the player. What this also means is that punches can be thrown from a block, though it does slow the player down.
Visual improvements are to be expected, with pugilists having muscles that tense, blubber that wobbles and generally looking like Real Life should. Other areas spruced up include fighter entrances, which include specific ones created for the big names of the boxing world. We didn’t see a huge amount of the damage modeling – too many clean KOs – but we’ve been promised it’s ‘robust’, and these screens certainly back up that theory.
Boxing has lost some of its appeal over the last decade, and it’s seen itself replaced in the hearts and minds of many fight fans by the various incarnations of MMA. Still, we do think there’s a big, empty place where a boxing game would fit nicely, and we’re hopeful Fight Night Champion will be able to fill it.