|System: Xbox 360, PS3|
|Dev: EA Canada|
|Pub: Electronic Arts|
|Release: March 1, 2011|
|Players: 1 – 2 (Local/Online)|
|Screen Resolution: 480p – 1080p|
Now, these great gameplay enhancements would be nothing without the visuals to back them up, and rest assured, Champion delivers. This is the first time I can ever recall where a game's graphics help the game. Collision detection has been greatly improved, though there's still the occasional wonkiness. Still, it's a blip on the radar; you see each brutal hit land and end up feeling the intensity it brings. You hear your trainer shout out advice in the heat of the moment and more often than not, it pays off. You dodge and dance around your opponent's flurry and land that vicious jab-hook combo and down he goes. It's moment's like these that give Champion some serious staying power, especially in the online realm. Die-hards will undoubtedly eat this game up, spending countless hours boxing online or in the same room, and this is where the game is at its best.
There's one last thing about the game's realism that needs to be said: each boxer has his own distinct fighting personality that matches his real life personality. Tyson comes at you like a freight train, Ali intimidates you and is at his best when he abuses his long arms, and Pacquiao is nimble and precise. Naturally, when you play as these fighters in the arcade mode, you perform best when matching these styles. It's yet another little thing that adds up to deliver a really great package.
The game's commentating, however, really hurt said package. In a game that put so much time and effort to be an authentic boxing package, the repeated dialogue and sometimes erroneous play calling both hurt the game and comes off as really annoying. Specifically, during career mode, I was called a power boxer and a speed boxer in two separate matches. Did I magically change my style? Am I a boxing god? Don't get me wrong, there are some great things done: they add to the story by specifically talking about Bishop's accomplishments and goals, but other than that, they're useless.
Fight Night Champion has a lot of style. The presentation is excellent, the story is manageable at worst and engaging at best, the gameplay is rock solid, and the graphics are outstanding. That being said, legacy mode is a complete waste, newcomers will be frustrated at fighting seasoned veterans of the series, and the commentating is awful. There's some potential staying power here and if you really work hard at it, you can find yourself playing and enjoying Champion for quite some time. Easily the best in the series, Fight Night Champion is an excellent game that is sadly hampered by its shortcomings.
CCC Freelance Writer