EA has informed IGN that its Fight Night boxing franchise is on hold. "Right now, a great portion of the core of the Fight Night team are actually the team that are building UFC," Andrew Wilson, the head of EA Sports told IGN. The team has "an amazing understanding of the pugilistic arts" that keeps them "really dedicated and focused on UFC right now."
Wilson cited the rising global popularity of the Ultimate Fighting Championship as the reason for EA's different direction. The developer claimed the UFC rights from THQ last year. With Fight Night on indefinite pause and UFC only growing year over year, one wonders if it will ever return.
Wilson concluded, "Do I see a future for Fight Night? You know, sure. But right now, UFC is where our fighting focus is."
There we have it; UFC is taking over boxing in the digital world.
This has me thinking about the Fight Night series as a whole and the different games in the series I've played; Fight Night Round 2, Fight Night Round 3, Fight Night Round 4, and Fight Night Champion. Here are some musings on them:
Fight Night Round 2:
From what I remember of it, the hayemakers were out of whack and you could just haymaker left/right hooks all fight.
But shit it was awesome. And extremely fast paced. I had a lot of fun with this game.
Fight Night Round 3:
This was a game, from a graphical point, that showed us what next gen consoles could do.
Fight Night Round 3 is my least favourite in the series, however. The pace slowed down way too much and the different types of punches had a convoluted control scheme.
I enjoyed the between rounds gameplay of this game. There was a mini-game in which you would try and get the swelling down and heal cuts. Future games removed this mechanic and replaced with a more automated feature which I didn't enjoy as much.
Fight Night Round 4:
Here we saw the series jump up to 60 frames per second. The result was a slick and fast game. However, I did feel the increased frame rate gave fighters an unnatural look and feel.
The controls were more refined than previous games; there was less to do to get the big shots off.
The most important addition was physics to the boxers. Everything was more realistic and variable rather than canned animations.
This game also saw the end of featherweights vs heavyweights. Now you could only box someone within 2 weight classes. Bummer. I loved being challenged by fighting with a small dude against a huge heavyweight. I believe the restriction was in place because of the introduction of the physics and the difficulty in programming the size disparity, but I'm not sure.
Fight Night Champion:
The current boxing game I play on and off.
Favourite boxers to use: Pacquiao, Tommy Hearns, Roy Jones Jr (ya'll musta forgot!), Ali, Mike Tyson, David Haye. I love fighting against Butterbean; his animated jiggling flab is hypnotic.
This is the latest, and for some time it appears, last game in the series. Continuing with the physics based Fight Night Round 4, a move back to 30 frames per second allowed for a bit more graphical detail on boxers faces, their bodies, and the environment at the expense of the faster 60 frames per second gameplay of the previous game.
This game is the pinnacle of the series from a gameplay and graphical perspective in my opinion. The controls here are so smooth and add a more realistic edge to boxing matches compared with previous games. No more winding up on the controller for haymakers or silly half circle motions to pull out those hooks; the punches are mapped simply in different directions; flick the stick left and the boxer will pull out a left hook etc. There is also more variety of punches i.e. hooker cuts. Holding down the right bumper button adds a bit more power to any punch at the expense of using more stamina. This is a better system than only having the power shots as hooks like in previous games.
Boxer animation is also improved. The way Ali throws his jab is bang on like real life Ali, for example. They even got David Haye to do mo-cap work to animate his punches. Haye's mo-cap work was done (and the game released) prior to his fight with Wladimir Klitschko, so there's no scene of him showing his CG broken toe to ringside in the event you drop a points decision to Wladimir.
This game also sees a single player narrative introduced. It employs every cliche in the boxing world; up and coming fighter; goes to prison; gets out and gets back on top etc.
But it was fun. Different scenarios kept it fresh i.e. one fight the ref is crook so you can't body punch because he calls it as a low blow and disqualifies you. Another fight sees you using only one hand as you break the other hand during the fight and using the broken hand takes away chunks of health.
Then there's legacy mode. I don't think they've made this the best it could be in any game in the series and I'm not a huge fan.
Anyway, I hope EA's focus on UFC games is short lived because the Fight Night series is fantastic.