Fight Night Champion looks to reinvent the genre that it helped to define in the simulation realm. The demo shows off the new graphics, new controls, and the new style.
The game’s roster is set to be the most comprehensive yet, but the demo is limited to 4 fighters, two for the welterweights and two for heavyweights. The two heavyweights, Ali and Tyson are clearly the centerpiece of the demo while Pacquiao and Cotto are simply in for some variety.
The game looks simply amazing, and every detail is spot on. The experience is as close to a boxing match as you can get without buying a ticket. Damage looks convincing, and some punches will make you flinch as they turn a face to jelly. Prepare to see blood on your boxing glove, lots of it.
The game features a “Fight Now” option as well as an online component but both modes feel basically the same except that online opponents’ status bars will not be visible online. The variety will also extinguish itself after two or three matches due to limited choices. This isn’t the fault of the game, it is a demo after all, but you won’t want to spend hours with it.
The core of the game is still “total punch control” which allows you to use the right stick to throw a precise punch to any area of the body. The control is supposed to mesh with any player’s style and really play to any boxer’s strength. This is where it gets incredibly confusing. I played both Fight Night Round 3 and 4 and this seemed impossible in comparison. No matter which punch you want to throw, it seems to pick a different one. The controls have been changed to allow a punch modifier button that allows any punch to be “juiced up”. Basically it turns any punch into a super punch but drains your stamina bar as a result. There’s no quicker way to go down than exhausting your boxer by throwing super punches.
The sweet science never really seemed to click with me. The right stick has been retooled to throw more punches and if you are slightly off you will end up throwing a hook instead of a jab. This may seem like a minor complaint, but if you go through the entire match throwing hooks instead of jabs, you will get beat down.
Maybe I just suck, but the AI seemed to be on a mission to destroy you. Ali vs. Tyson ends up with Tyson getting right up on you and beating your brains out, and Tyson vs. Ali ends with Tyson getting jabbed to death. The AI definitely seems to have a counter-punch ready to situation, and I’ve never seen Mike Tyson using the Philly Shell defense, or any defense at all really. In either case, if you don’t fight smart you’ll go down faster than Mike Tyson’s career did after he beat his wife.
This trial is fun, but don’t be surprised if you have trouble winning matches. The punch mechanics still need some work it seems and the promised “regional anaerobic fatigue” never really came into play. I’ve never been hit with so many right hooks in my life, but then again, maybe I just suck at boxing games.