In the Face!
Fight Night Champion starts out with a bang. As soon as the disc is popped in the tray, players are thrust into the shoes of Andre Bishop, an amateur fighter in the middle of a prison fight. Intensity is high and the stage is immediately set for the fabulous new Champion Mode. The storyline based mode is where FNC really shines, although not without its flaws.
The linear storyline of Andre takes players on a well scripted - if not a little predictable - story of a once great fighter working to reclaim the glory of his younger years. All the expected characters are involved; The seedy promoter, the unstoppable rival, the loyal trainer... While it's all somewhat been done before, FNC pulls it off beautifully. The biggest flaw? It's length. I sped through Champion Mode in around 5 hours and would have expected a couple more hours of gameplay... but players are left to explore the other modes and features. While there is one major design flaw in the games' final fight (a very unbalanced, inconsistent level design that will have you screaming at the game), Champion Mode works as a sort of tutorial for the game. By the time the story was complete, I knew all the basics of how to attack and defend while playing the other modes FNC offers.
Fight Night Champion is easily one of the most beautiful sports games ever created. The models are rendered perfectly, movement is precise and realistic and the physics are spot on. This is especially highlighted when playing with classic fighters like Tyson or Holyfield... they have the most accurate "likeness" ever seen in a game. With the inclusion of an "M" rating, FNC feels like a true boxing game. Blood and damage are on display in full brutality while the catcalls and taunting from fans in the crowd give the fights an authentic gritty feel.
The Legacy Mode is still in Fight Night, with a similar "build-your-character" design as EA's other fighting game, MMA. Players slowly build their skill sets based on points earned in training and fights. One major flaw: Several of the training games are atrocious. Luckily, players have an option which to play... because some of them are downright broken. Fighters can earn sponsorships, build their popularity through public appearances and more. But in the end, the mode is basically a train-train-fight cycle, repeated many times over.
It's clear EA's main goal beyond Champion Mode is get players online. And while the online modes are plentiful, the balance is not. I jumped into the Online World Championships and tried to "match up" with someone similar to my fighters' skill. 3 times I was pitted against a fighter with far greater attributes, and promptly got my face beaten in. In the "FIGHT NOW" mode I was able to choose a fighter from a list of current and all-time fighters... and had no problem disposing of my opponents. Something about the experience just felt "off". Perhaps with more time online, my opinion will change.
All in all, Fight Night Champion is a worthwhile experience. For any fan of the sport, FNC is a must-own. If you casually like fighting or boxing, this game will appeal. The Champion Mode won't take too long to get through - but it's the main draw here. Ground and Pound.