Fight Night Champion Xbox 360
Published by EA Sports
Developed by EA Sports
The latest title in the Fight Night series, Fight Night Champion is another quality boxing title but this time around it does things a little differently. The main difference in Fight Night Champion is that the game is focused around the story of the rise, fall and comeback of Andre Bishop. The developers deserve praise for this change in style and it's certainly refreshing to see. Unfortunately for deaf gamers, the developers almost completely forgot to cater for those who don't have the ability to hear and the story-based Champion mode is pretty much rendered useless.
Champion mode includes everything from amateur and pro fights to gritty fights in prison. The story plays out kind of like a clichéd boxing movie and for the most part is enjoyable. The real problem with the mode is that none of the dialogue is subtitled which is pretty much a disaster as there's a lot of dialogue here and without it the mode pretty much loses its importance. There are objectives placed on you in specific fights (which tie-in with events that happen in the game's story) and thankfully you're made aware of these objectives but that's about as far as it goes for catering for deaf gamers.
Champion mode aside, Fight Night Champion doesn't offer anything new. You can still take part in online fights and championships and you can take some of the greatest boxers of all time and match them up in exhibition fights as well as creating your own boxer or taking an existing boxer and fighting your way through a virtual career in Legacy mode. The online fights work well, when lag isn't an issue, but the Legacy mode feels as though it wasn't given much attention at all. Whilst it's still fun to take a boxer from an amateur to the "Greatest of All Time", there's no denying that it's a fairly bland experience, complete with tedious mini-games, and one that's in dire need of improvement.
The control scheme has been adjusted somewhat in Fight Night Champion and the game is all the better for it. Before you could either choose the right analogue stick or the main buttons to throw punches from the options menu. Using the buttons was more straightforward whilst the right analogue stick was more satisfying but at times could be awkward thanks to having to slightly rotate the stick to perform certain moves. Now you can use a combination of both the buttons and the right analogue stick and to make things even better with the LB and RB modifying the punches. The right analogue controls are much more satisfying and easier to use thanks to not having to rotate the stick like in previous games.
Some would argue that it was too easy for fights to turn into an unrealistic barrage of blows in previous Fight Night games. It is maybe a little bit too easy to simply wade into your opponent with a slightly unrealistic number of punches but this isn't a game where you can lay into your opponent without giving any regard to defence. Fight Night Champion forces you to take defence into consideration and to keep an eye on your stamina. It's no good laying into your opponent if you're taking all the wind out of your boxer's sails and that forces you to take fights at a more realistic pace. As a result of this, fights are more satisfying and call for a degree of strategy rather than simply pounding away at the controls.
The Fight Night series has always been graphically impressive and Fight Night Champion is no exception. Once again the damage modelling looks great and you can really see the boxers getting beat up. The cuts, swellings and blood splatters have never looked so realistic in a boxing title. The visual presentation of the game as a whole is very impressive. The only rough spots can be seen in the game's cut scenes which for some reason can be rather choppy at times. Thankfully however, the frame rate during the fights remains smooth at all times.
We've already touched on the fact that Fight Night Champion isn't a great experience for deaf gamers thanks to the absence of any subtitles in the game's Champion mode but it's not just in that mode that the game could be better. There are no subtitles in the rest of the game's modes and all of the comments from the seconds etc., will be missed by deaf gamers. Tutorial information is shown in text (and through the use of icons) and messages you receive in Legacy mode are in text but deaf gamers are excluded from a lot of the game's dialogue. The game also doesn't feature any captions so deaf gamers will be oblivious to the sound that's given when one of the boxers is stunned and runs a real risk of being knocked down.
There can be no denying that Fight Night Champion, particularly if you're a hearing person, is a worthy addition to what has been a great boxing game series. However, the absence of subtitles in the game pretty much makes the Champion mode a waste of time, or at the very least diminishes its importance greatly, and the other modes in the game haven't really received the attention they should have. However, the controls have been improved and the boxing system in place here is better than in any other boxing game we've seen on this generation of consoles. It's a good game then but with much better provision for deaf gamers and more attention to all of the game's modes, this could have been a classic.