Fight Night Champion Preview

Posted on November 11, 2010

Defending the belt is a dangerous proposition. You can keep doing what got you there, but your movements and punch combos become predictable over time and opponents will inevitably expose your weaknesses. To avoid losing their standing atop the boxing world, champions must constantly reinvent themselves, adopting new tactics and shoring up weaknesses while at the same time preserving their unique talents that landed them atop the rankings.

The development team at EA Canada is facing a similar dilemma with Fight Night Champion. How do you improve a game that won universal acclaim? The development team went to the tape to find some hidden flaws, and the telemetry data showed players threw a considerably higher amount of left-handed punches than they did right-handed. It’s not hard to understand why – moving the right analog stick to throw a right uppercut or right hook forces your thumb to contort in unnatural ways. To bring the stats back in line with true boxing, the team decided to reinvent the Total Punch Control.

A Turn For The Dramatic
Boxing is no stranger to drama – critically applauded films like Rocky and Raging Bull
have captured the brutality of the sport both in and out of the ring to
great effect. EA hopes to conjure some of its own storytelling mojo in
the new Champion mode. We only got a brief glimpse of the mode, but it
opens with a bang as the main character Andre gets clocked in the head
and falls to the mat. As he pulls himself together and sluggishly raises
off the ground, a voice yells at from his corner – “That’s what
champions do, they get back up” and reminds him that’s what his father
did. After he comes to his senses and his eyesight adjusts, you realize
this isn’t any old boxing match. The protagonist is going head to head
with a tattooed skinhead in a state penitentiary as inmates watch and
cheer beside the ring. Don’t expect this to be a happy go lucky tale, as
the dev team says Fight Night Champion is the first M-rated game in EA
Sports history. We hope to find out more about this imprisoned protagonist and his
gritty quest for redemption in the near future.

The new punching system still uses the right analog stick, but instead of swinging the stick with different gestures to create different punches, you now just need to flick the stick in a specific direction. Different angles determine different punches, and the new system has allowed EA to cram two times as many punch types into the stick. One punch that won’t be making an appearance is the haymaker. EA felt the over-the-top punch robbed the fights of realism, and are replacing it with a heavy punch modifier than can be used on any type of punch. Big punches take more stamina and leave you more exposed to counters, but you can work them more seamlessly into the middle of combos and even land a blow that stuns your opponent or a one-punch knockout. With all of these new punches being added to Fight Night, EA Canada went back to the mo-cap studio to recreate more signature punches from star fighters like Manny Pacquiao and Mike Tyson.

Throwing winning combos is only one aspect of becoming a winning boxer. To improve its defense, EA is implementing a new reflexive blocking system that changes the way you play defense and counterattack. Instead of holding down the block button and swinging the analog stick to the appropriate blocking location, you now can either tap the trigger to block a punch right before impact or hold down the button to rely on the boxer’s reflex ratings. This also freed up the directional control to let players to punch from the guard position for the first time in the series.

Perhaps the most dramatic change EA is making to Fight Night is the increased importance of stamina. In past games you could indiscriminately and continually throw a flurry of punches. The new stamina system drains and refills more quickly, encouraging fighters to be smarter about when to unleash a long combo. If you go for an eight-punch combo when your stamina is low and your opponent is rested, it will provide an opening for a counter-attack. The savvy boxers will develop a rhythm of throwing a few punches, jumping back to catch their breath, and knowing when to go for broke.

To better emulate the tendencies of real-world boxers and give the Legacy mode a boost, EA went to the drawing board and completely revamped the ratings system. Now each distinct punch has its own rating on a scale of 1 to 20, and created players can upgrade ratings for stamina, movement, reflexes, chin, and heart as well. Super high ratings for specific punches allow you to land those extremely rare one-punch knockouts if the opportunity presents itself. To improve your boxer, you must use your winnings to train between bouts. You can stay at your home gym, but it won’t impart big stat bonuses like other locations. Players can drop some extra coin to train in exotic locales like Germany, London, Japan, Philadelphia, Detroit, and Big Bear, California. Each location grants a different stat boost. For instance, the high elevation at Big Bear gives your boxer more stamina when he comes down the mountain to fight, and training in the legendary gyms of Philly gives your fighter a boost to his chin rating.

Taken together, the list of improvements and tweaks to Fight Night Champion is impressive. We can’t wait to go a few rounds as we move closer to the 2011 release window to see if the changes result in a more impressive boxer in the ring.

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Go to Source (Game Informer)

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Categories: Game News, Game Secrets


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