SPOILER WARNING - Suffice to say there will be spoilers in this rant - you've been warned.
Fight Night Champion featured a 'story mode' which saw you play as boxing hopeful Andre Bishop. You followed his journey from Olympic boxer, to a stint in prison all the way to the dizzying heights of a world title match. All in all - the story mode lasted about 2 and a half hours. But with that world title match to win, I dropped this game in August 2011 and was very reluctant to consider putting it back in all the way over here in March 2012 - over half a year since I first tried to beat the current world Champion Issac Frost.
The problem? Not being able to fight how I want to fight. Granted, in some of the earlier matches you had a few minor forced conditions in boxing matches - not being able to throw with a broken hand, for example. But in Fight Night Champions final confrontation the game is nearly completely crippled for the sake of what I can only assume was EA's attempt at an 'epic' final battle found in the likes of anime Hajime No Ippo or the Sly Stallone 'Rocky' movies.
Rounds 1 and 2 - a full 6 minutes of boxing action - are whittled down to a game of hide and seek in which the player as the challenger for the world title must simply 'survive'. The fact that the champ has what I can only assume is full stats and unlimited stamina is ridiculous. The first two rounds consisted of running around the ring and holding up your guard and praying you could get away when Issac closed the gap and forced you into a corner or the ropes. The biggest issue I take with this - if this was a real match, the challenger Andre Bishop would be disqualified, you can't go two rounds without throwing a punch. Granted you could attempt to hit the champ - but doing so is like tossing a snowball into hell. One hit and you're shakey, two and you're on the floor. And I believe it's impossible to KO Frost in these rounds as we're forced to jump through the first of many hoops.
Rounds 3, 4 and 5 - we are supposed to 'work the body' - hit Issac Frost in the body 75 times, while as before, running away from him at every chance you get for fear of being knocked flat on your ass. I found myself being KOed once or twice - on those occasions it's not even worth trying to get back up as the damage to your health and stamina further cripples you.
With a cut opening on Andre's head its time in rounds 6 and 7 to go back to our least favourite activity, surviving. If in either of these rounds Issac hits Andre's cut 8 times - the match is over. So we once again resume backing up and blocking - and even blocking sometimes results in a shot to the cut due to Issac's insanely high stats.
Round 8 - we are FINALLY set loose on the champ, finally allowed to do what we want to do, and then the champ goes down in less then 20 seconds after an unsatisfying slow motion finish.
I've always been a champion of good story and narrative in games. And I applaude EA for trying something original with Fight Night Champion. A Rocky style story of a champions rise to the title is great, be it a book, move or indeed a game. But there has to be another way to convey an epic fight without crippling what brought me to the match in the first place - my skills within the game. I want to fight how I fight. I don't want to spend 7 rounds jumping through hoops for little to no pay off. By the time I finally got round to completing FN: Champion, I was bored. I was simply annoyed with the uncomplete game sat on my shelf.
Have Issac Frost get back up no matter what, give him an edge stat wise (not to the level of it being a whale in a tear drop though). Put in some interactive moments within the fight - dare I say even quick time events would be a better option then what we're presented with in the final showdown of this otherwise stellar attempt at an epic boxing story and game.
In the future - I'd like to see another attempt at a story mode within the Fight Night franchise, but maybe put my character in the story. With the 'gameface technology' allowing for my face to be on a boxer in the game, we could get a truely rise epic, 'boxer rising' story with the most appealing character of all - ourselves. Hell throw in a Mass Effect conversation system, have us truely live the life of a boxer - choose a trainer, sign deals. Will you be a role model and true champion, or will you be a complete heel (maybe start a girly shouting contest and dust up at a press conference like the sad excuse for boxers we have over here in the UK) - add epic moments to the fights, cinematic within the game but not crippling to a gamers play style. Give us those options and then you will truely have an epic boxing game that people want to play.
How did everyone else feel about the game over all? And also - would you like me want to see the next level of a truely epic boxing story mode? Thoughts are always welcome - and I'll also await some "Jeez - Frost was easy..." from those that are obviously more skilled or more patient then I am :P