For those that are unaware, I’ve written quite a few posts in anticipation of this game’s release.
Most of those posts were fairly critical of the new elements being introduced to the franchise, and sadly; today’s post will continue that trend.
The Fight Night Champion demo consists of a local and online head-to-head mode and several video featurettes detailing the new gameplay elements and graphical improvements.
For anyone whose been following any of the pre-release videos and articles regarding this game, the videos contained in the demo are exactly the same that have been used to promote the game thus far, so you may as well skip ‘em.
Anyway, let’s get to the important stuff, namely the actual gameplay of the demo.
The local version of the demo (I haven’t tried online) comes with 4 fighters at 2 different weight classes, Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson at heavyweight, and Miguel Cotto and Manny Pacquiao at welterweight.
If I may diverge for a moment, I feel a need to rant about stats in boxing games.
I think it’s kind of funny that they listed Manny Pacquiao’s stats as being 93 overall, making him on par with Muhammad Ali.
While I don’t doubt that Pacquiao will find his way into Canastota (the boxing hall of fame, dumbass) in the near future, and will likely be regarded as a top 100 of all time fighter, the very notion of stats in a boxing game kind of irks me, largely because a few nasty experiences I had in fighting opponents with vastly superior stats (read: BROKEN) in online matches in Fight Night 3 and 4.
Just so we’re clear, those guys aren’t not ever will be anything more than “good” in the sport of boxing.
Muhammad Ali was solid in every category of physical capability that a fighter should be, with his durability, speed, and stamina serving as the foundation for his game; however the factors that put him over the edge, were intangibles like his unfaltering tenacity, ring intelligence, and heart.
Now watch, EA will go ahead and introduce a “ring intelligence” stat in the next Fight Night just to shut up dumbfucks like me.
Bullshit ramblings aside, while I took the time to play as all 4 fighters, I spent the majority of my time playing as Miguel Cotto against Manny Pacquiao, largely because I felt playing with a stat advantage would cloud my perception of the game.
I suppose it also helps that I like Miguel Cotto.
Anyway, from a presentation standpoint; the game is pretty impressive.
The fighters bear a closer likeness to their real-life counterparts, and the entrance animations are far more organic than in previous entries in the series, which had the fighters looking and moving in a very bland an generic fashion.
*Whew!* At leas it was never that bad…
In all, the most striking graphical change in the somewhat fuzzy, washed-out filtered look that the game sports.
Fight Night 4, and indeed many of EA’s recent sports games like MMA or Madden, have sported kind of a sterile/Walmart-y, plastic-y look to them that had all the human characters looking like Ken dolls.
The texture work in Fight Night Champion seems more realistic, with pores, imperfections, and muscle definition appearing more realistic overall.
In-game, the default camera angle is a little annoying, with the fighter’s heads being too close to the top of the screen, and the ring ropes often obscuring some of the action; however this is an option that is changeable, so I can’t complain too much.
Despite the graphics looking nice, from a gameplay standpoint; the framerate seems a little out of whack.
Maybe it’s just the demo, but Fight Night Champion felt a little choppy to me.
It’s not that it felt slow, on the contrary it felt faster in some ways; it’s just that the game didn’t seem as “crisp.”
The delay time from controller input to on-screen action is a little more pronounced than in previous Fight Nights, and the motion blur effect is taken to near ridiculous heights, with Manny Pacquiao’s white gloves turning into white smudges any time any sort of action occurs.
Speaking of “action,” Fight Night Champion makes use of a brand new control scheme dubbed the “Full Spectrum Punch Control” system.
The new system consists of flicking the right analog stick to execute all of the punches in your repertoire as opposed to miming them with the analog stick.
Truth be told, I don’t like the new system.
Flicking the analog stick is probably more efficient, however the end result is a gameplay mechanic that is simply too sensitive for it’s own good.
Think about it, if you move the stick just a little bit off, you’ll end up doing something completely different from what you intended.
Not only that, but when you factor in the delay between action to implementation in-game; you end up with a game with an overly sensitive control scheme that queues your fuck-ups and plays them out well after you made them.
Seriously, if you have this demo, try spinning the analog stick for a second so you can watch the game play itself.
Moving on, guarding is now mapped to a shoulder button, resulting in all blocking being executed automatically, with no additional inputs required to guard high or low.
As with the punch control, this system reeks of someone thinking it would be a good idea to “streamline” the gameplay mechanics.
As with the punches, I feel that this was a big mistake.
Maybe I like being able to block high or low.
Maybe I like the idea of being able to lay traps for my opponents by aiming high with weak shots, and then going low with heavy ones.
Honestly, why would EA think it would be a good idea to remove this?
For the time being, my overall impression of Fight Night Champion is mostly a negative one.
While Fight Night 4 was a little bit too hyperactive to be considered an accurate boxing simulation, the gameplay mechanics were solid and responsive, but moreover; it was fun.
Fight Night Champion looks great, but the choppy framerate coupled with simultaneously overly and inadequately responsive gameplay; results in a product that if you ask me, could probably use a little bit more development time.
Either that, or less Canadians at the helm of the game’s development team:
Seriously, that guy was hella’ Canuck…
Anyway, those are my thoughts.
If you disagree with me, please leave a comment, I’d love to hear other’s thoughts on this.