EA Sports' Fight Night Champion isn't due for another month, but the publishing giant has given us a quick glimpse at what's to come with the demo, featuring four fighters from two weight divisions and even two weeks access to the game's online mode. Fight Night Champion is EA Sports' first Mature rated sports title and it certainly doesn't look like it'll be holding anything back.
The demo doesn't quite give us an idea to Champion's single player campaign, which supposedly follows the turbulent life of boxer Andre Bishop. Instead, it focuses more on one of the more traditional modes: a three round fight between four available characters of your choice. I immediately picked what I thought to be the most interesting pairing, or perhaps cliche, Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali.
It's surprisingly easy to pick up, the controls aren't complex at all while still remaining surprisingly deep. You can weave in and out with the left stick and throw jabs, hooks and uppercuts with the face buttons, or even better, using the Full Spectrum Punch Control with the right stick. Visual cues and a stamina gauge let you know when you're out of steam and the commentators will occasionally toss out a couple of boxing tips if you aren't doing so well.
Playing as Ali was pretty interesting considering he doesn't have the power that Tyson does. This is where each boxers' differences have to be put to the test. Ali can throw a punch from a mile away, so it's a good idea to adjust your strategy accordingly. Getting in too close to Tyson only means getting pummelled in the face. On the other hand, moving around the ring and throwing punches and counter-punches works really well for a fighter like Ali. Tyson, on the other hand, can down an opponent in a matter of a couple of well placed punches. Getting in close and using the power modifier knocked the air out of Ali pretty good on occasion.
The two welterweights are a whole other ball game. They move a whole lot faster, especially the Pac-man, and the adrenaline-fueled and fast paced action experience here felt different from the tense action between the heavyweights.
The online mode, available in the demo for only two weeks, works as it should. Getting into a game or challenging a friend is as simple as a button push away. I didn't notice any lag and that's really good, especially with the importance of timing your punches right. Connection wasn't a problem either.
The overall experience was a pretty visceral one. The new and improved visuals are incredibly impressive, as are the animations and the collision detection. Knockout punches are cringeworthy and the visuals and sound design only help to solidify that experience. It feels lousy to lose a match, but it feels incredibly amazing to win one.
So far, we have yet to see the story mode or whatever makes this game a Mature rated title, for that matter. However, if what's available in the demo is any indication, Fight Night Champion may prove to be a champ after all. Easy to learn controls, amazing visuals and sound, an intense boxing experience like no other and, more importantly, face-crushing knockouts, this is certainly one sports title to look out for in the coming months.