Fight Night Champion Hits and Misses

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Posted March 1st, 2011 at 2:15 pm

The highly anticipated Fight Night Champion arrives in stores today. While the marketing push has centered on the “Champion” story mode numerous improvements were made to gameplay, feature additions to online play, and the ‘M’ rating (the first ever from EA Sports) makes its presence felt throughout the game. Continue on to check out where the game succeeded and where it misstepped in this “Hits and Misses” review.¬†

Hits

  • Story Mode

Make sure to check out the expanded review of the “Champion” story mode. Though it will remain questionable whether the allocation of resources to this mode was the right direction to go it does deliver in terms of adding valuable content to the total package. That may have been at the expense of other areas of the game however. Regardless the mode is a fresh addition that will appeal to a wider audience than the typical career mode. The story isn’t compelling until it starts nearing its conclusion but the fights are unique and it makes for a fun experience to play through.

  • Controls

The changes to controls for Fight Night Champion represent a big improvement. Simply flicking the stick for punches allows for quicker reaction time and the ability to better put together combos. It also is much less stressful during fights on both the controller and the hands. The auto-blocking is also a welcome change, and EA seems to have done a good job of balancing that with the ability to punch through blocks and have fatigue affect blocking as well.  Overall the game is simply more accessible and enjoyable due to the changes.

  • Graphics

Graphics have always been a strength of the Fight Night series. The game looks fantastic and does an impressive job of representing damage. The increased display of blood doesn’t seem to be over the top which was an early concern. The one downside is a downgrade in framerate to 30fps which can be noticeable at times.

  • Roster

With each boxer needing to be signed individually there will inevitably be names left out of the roster. EA did a solid job of bringing together an extensive roster and will likely fill it out even more down the line through some DLC. Check out the full roster and overall ratings. There is also the “Fighter Share” feature for created boxers and a large number of guys to use from the story mode. The individual ratings and tendencies make for style differentiation in the ring depending on who the opponent is and the strengths/weaknesses of the fighter being used.

Misses

  • Legacy Mode

The traditional career mode will be familiar. It is largely the same as FNR4. Some elements have been added from EA Sports MMA but the mode remains largely tedious. Clearly the majority of the development focus was on the story mode and career took a backseat.

  • Online Play

Performance appears to be solid online and fatigue does play a role in the fights. Online as a whole though is uninspired. The new “Online Gyms” are unlikely to get much use and those that take advantage of it will have to be small in numbers or extremely dedicated to be successful. “Live Broadcast” first introduced in EA Sports MMA could have worked here for abbreviated fights. The biggest issue right now is the ability to use story mode boxers in ranked fights. The “big bad” Isaac Frost is going to be a dominant force online. Update: Actually the biggest issue is that microtransactions for XP points have ruined the “Online World Championship” mode.

  • Presentation

Commentary has gotten stale and lines are repeated too often. Entrances are too brief and not all that varied. The ref being added in-ring is nice to see but he gets in the way now and then. The new camera works well most of the time but certain angles can make it difficult to judge distance.

  • Sliders

Put simply the sliders don’t work. “Phobia” in the official Fight Night forum has detailed how the sliders have little to no effect. This would seem to be a patchable issue but for the hardcore crowd that depends on sliders to tailor the experience it is inexcusable that they don’t work out of the box. Addressing it through a patch would mean a wait of at the very least three weeks and likely longer if EA were to try and squeeze in other fixes for issues that are discovered over the coming days. This will also factor into the “Online Gyms” where one of the features is the ability to set the sliders is essentially negated.

Fight Night Champion is a game that Fight Night fans are likely to enjoy. The attempt to expand the appeal of the game using a story mode works to an extent but ultimately wouldn’t be enough to make it worthy of a purchase on its own. FNC is a technically superb but ultimately flawed game. EA Sports took some risks and they deserve credit for that. Now it is just a matter of seeing how consumers respond.