EA Sports has confirmed their latest installment in the Fight Night series will debut next year on Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.
Christened Fight Night Champion, developers EA Canada have focused on adding depth to the single player/career mode, which they claim will revolutionize all sports games.
“Fight Night Champion will break the mold of what is expected in a single-player sports game,” said the company in a statement. “Players will be introduced to an entirely new way to step between the ropes and experience the drama, emotion, excitement and tragedy of world championship boxing.”
Tragedy has indeed been a staple of the boxing world since its inception, especially concerning career ending injuries and ring deaths.
EA’s previous boxing title, Knockout Kings, briefly touched on the effects grueling fights have on fighters. In the 2003 career mode, your fighter would have to sit out for several months if they engaged in a fight that saw them take significant damage. However, lingering damage or diminished skills did not carry over into subsequent bouts.
Whether Fight Night Champion will hold that type of realism is anyone guess, as gameplay producer Brian Haynes is for now sworn to secrecy.
“It’s something people won’t expect from an EA Sports game,” he told IGN.com. “Our lips are sealed for the time-being about that.”
Weight-classes weren’t divulged, but EA did verify that the game will have a total of 60-65 boxers. For now, the only two boxers that can be verified are Manny Pacquiao and Winky Wright.
The total punch control of Fight Night Round 4 eliminated use of buttons, which disappointed some gamers. They will be a new punch control system known as “Full Spectrum Punch.” But like the career mode, the company is silent on the details outside of it being “user-friendly” to new gamers and still “the most realistic punching system ever seen.”
EA Sports will announce more details by the end of this year. At press time, there is not a specified 2011 release date.
The accolades about the story mode can’t help but you get you excited. For me, I always wanted a story mode that balanced the physicality of the sport with the politics we all know and loathe. Have your popularity influenced by your fighting style and performances. Include some elements that feature media (one of the early 2000s Knockout Kings had newspaper clippings that showed fight results, a nice touch). When you move up in weight, you should lose something physically. Having constant bloodbaths should have some lingering effects (possibly lowering your chin or susceptibility to cuts). You should be able to track the moves of fighters not just in your weight class, but at least right below and above yours (so you can see guys potentially moving into your division, and guage opportunities to move up).
It would also be fantastic if you could negotiate fights with guys outside your weight class. For example, you could be at 147 and target a more popular fighter at 140 pounds. But you’d have to do a “catchweight” which can hurt your condition on fight night. Fight too many smaller or older guys and that can hurt your popularity
There are many possibilities with PS3 and Xbox 360 engines . EA’s reference to “tragedy” makes me think you can administer career-ending beatings in the game. If so I like the realism but they’ll have to be very careful about how they portray that, especially if there are ringside stretcher and ambulance graphics. They’ll want to make sure it’s not modeled too closely on actual tragedies like Gerald McClellan vs. Nigel Benn. Personally, I’d leave out ring deaths.
The 65 fighter roster is still low, but unfortunately there’s only so much EA can do. Without a player’s association like football, basketball or baseball, they have to negotiate with every fighter to have their likeness included. A few years back, the late Alexis Arguello actually sued EA for having him in a game without permission.
The one burning question we have is who should be on the cover? I say Mayweather and Pacquiao since it’ll add to the shame of fans having to play a video game to finally see them fight. Speaking of which, maybe EA should add contract negotiations with Olympic style drug testing and Bob Arum?