Thursday, February 17, 2011

Fight Night Champion Preview

I was a boxing enthusiast in the early 2000’s – the key being was! With Fight Night Champion EA promises a return to form for the once great sport of Boxing. Well the new Champion mode –that plays out like a feature film-style boxing movie—isn’t available in the demo; you can still jump into the ring and play 3 round’s with 4 different boxers and get a feel for some of the improvements EA has made to the core game.

From the demo available the boxers are Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson in the Heavyweight division, and Manny Pacquiao and Miquel Cotto in the Welterweight division.

I selected Muhammad Ali for my first fight and it was apparent from the outset that the difference in speed between “The Greatest of All Time” and “Iron Mike” was nominal. Instead of choosing between using the face buttons to attack or the full-motion analog controls separately; I chose a combination of both. The left trigger jukes away from punches, which I successfully used to weave from Iron Mike; then I usually came in with a full-motion uppercut; well during the main ring skirmish I tended to lean on the face button for my quick jabs and hooks. Having both the full-motion controls and face buttons as input options for your various punches, and not having to select from either-or is a nice addition to the game.

Needless to say Tyson was quickly overwhelmed by Ali’s speed – it didn’t help that Tyson used up his stamina with his first flurry of punches. Well I didn’t do a rope-a-dope and let Tyson wear himself out, I did wait for an opening and I struck with meticulous punches. I found that as Ali a “poking” style of fighting worked really well. Mind you Iron Mike is a much heavier puncher so he only needed to land a few good hits to bring visible lumps to my beautiful face before the end of the round.

As the 2nd round opened up I began to take the full offensive by using Muhammad Ali’s superior arm length. Having the length advantage over Tyson, and jabbing him from a distance (the right jab was my bread-and-butter punch); keeping Tyson at a distance was my ultimate goal. Unfortunately this didn’t last long. As Tyson began to close in on me, and his superior punching power and strength became too much to handle.A well placed right hook sent me staggering halfway across the ring. Fortunately the bell rang signaling the end of the 2nd round—giving me a needed rest to recover my stamina in the corner and get some advice from my trainer--which was lousy, he simply said "just keep him at a distance and you got this one Champ"--what the hell do you think I've been trying to do?

As the 3rd round approached its crescendo I was being to hit my stride.  I switched my stance with the D-pad and began to fire off punches with blazing speed…until Tyson landed another hook and once again substantially staggered me.

It was a little too late though as Ali won the match in a decision: outscoring Tyson in all but the final round.

Well Tyson and Ali had very distinct body types and fighting styles; Pacquiao and Cotto were much more evenly matched for my second fight. I found that as Welterweights both boxers favored a more strategic fight, at least in the early portion of the first round. Each of us really picked and chose our respective shots. As Cotto blocked I used Pacquiao to fire in punches countering his defense. As I dazed Cotto I closed in with a few power punches – that’s when the fight turned into a full out brawl, with both fighters giving it their all like a real Welterweight Pay-Per-View fight is supposed to be. I found myself trying to play against Cotto and use my right jab as Pacquiao, come in with a quick left, then deliver a strong right. This combo worked beautifully as I knocked Cotto flat on his back in the 3rd round. Well it was only a 5-count knockdown; I knew it was all I needed to win the matched. Pacquiao won the match by unanimous decision.

I definitely like what EA is doing with the pure boxing that is available from this demo. The Legacy/ Career mode wasn’t available, but from the video preview that can be watched from the main menu it looks to be much more robust then what has been offered in previous editions of Fight Night. The Legacy mode will have you rising from the amateur ranks well amassing experience for each fight you win, and spending your xp to customize your boxers’ attributes to make them truly unique. It would have been nice to get a taste of the Legacy mode in the demo, but it seems like that will have to wait for the full release of the game this march.

What proves to be the real show stopper in Fight Night Champion is the Champion Mode. The Champion mode plays out like a Hollywood boxing movie, complete with full voice work and cutscenes; and yes you will have a brother who will be riding your success as you try to make it big. Most boxing movies tend to be action-movie/soap operas, and that is what Champion mode seems to emulate. Once again though all the info gained for this mode is through a video that describes it as opposed to giving you a slice to actually playthrough. Whether or not you can make decisions and form a cohesive narrative story well boxing your way to stardom isn't known.

I look forward to Fight Night Champion. If the Champion mode delivers an experience similar to what we’ve seen on the big screen with The Fighter and Rocky I’ll gladly step into the ring and go a couple of rounds with this game.

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