As a huge boxing fan and someone that's dabbled in the sport, EA Sports' Fight Night is one of my favorite franchises of all time. That said, there are some aspects of the series that I find unsatisfactory. As a longtime gamer and game writer, I've found myself questioning my opinion of Fight Night. Clearly, it's the best boxing-game series of all time, but do most gamers see the flaws that I see? Or do I criticize the games unfairly because I love watching and training in boxing? To check myself and give TheFeed readers an insight to what hardcore boxing fans want in a boxing game, I contacted Thomas Gerbasi, longtime boxing scribe and editor of MaxBoxing.com. I've been reading MaxBoxing for years (it's excellent) and Gerbasi is one of my favorite writers, but I had no idea that he was also a hardcore gamer. I was surprised at his wealth of boxing-game knowledge. Here's what Gerbasi had to say.
G4: From a boxing fan's point of view, why is Fight Night such a great series?
Thomas Gerbasi: It's the first series of games that actually made the effort to get boxing right. I think the only series that ever came close before Fight Night was Victorious Boxers for the PS2, and even that fell short because of the lack of real boxers. So add the real boxers, great graphics, and even better gameplay together, and it's clearly head and shoulders above anything else out there. I think of it as Madden without the exclusivity -- the leader in the sport.
G4: What are some of the things EA can do better to make Fight Night more appealing to hardcore boxing fans?
TG: More fighters, a really deep create-a-fighter mode so that you can replicate the fighters that aren't in there, as well as a better career mode. For all its faults, I thought the career mode in Don King's Prizefighter was well done and a lot more immersive than Fight Night's. And let's face it, if you're a hardcore fight fan, you're buying anything with boxing in it -- so I got stuck with DK's Prizefighter, Showtime Boxing for the Wii, Victorious Boxers for the Wii (which was horrible -- I was so disappointed), and Mike Tyson Boxing (the only game with Paolo Vidoz, Audley Harrison, and Dominick Guinn -- that's a Murderer's Row right there).
G4: Yes, the gaming world clearly needs more "Fraudley" Harrison. Ha! Clinching is an aspect of boxing that has never been accurately portrayed in a game. Do you think boxing fans want to employ hit-and-hold tactics like Ricky Hatton? Or does the potential for a John Ruiz-type hug fest make it too unappealing?
TG: I'd love to have the option to play like John Ruiz if I wanted to. I think if you're going to do a sport correctly, you have to have all aspects of it in there. It's like cutting out fighting from a hockey game. Sure, it's not exactly part of the rules, but it is part of the game. And if you are playing someone who's fighting like Ruiz, now the fun part is figuring out how to be Roy Jones and keep him off you while winning the fight.
G4: Sweet. For a second there, I thought I was the only one in the world that wanted realistic clinching in a boxing game. What are some aspects of boxing you'd like to see implemented or improved in future games?
TG: I agree with having a better clinch game. I'd also like to see fights stopped during rounds because of excessive punishment, as well as one-punch flash-knockouts (I heard they were in Fight Night, but I never saw any). I think a greater emphasis on stylistic differences between fighters would be a great feature. In the NBA games, you can see different players shooting different ways, etc. Why not the same thing with Ali pulling off the Ali shuffle, Tyson coming forward bobbing and weaving with his gloves under his chin, or Mayweather doing his shoulder roll? Finally, I'd like to see the effects of a good body attack show up over time and have a fighter with a jackhammer jab be able to win a fight just off the jab. One more (I'm rambling here) -- how about injuries, where a guy can break his hand during the fight and have the power in that hand diminish as the rounds go on?
G4: I'd love to see all of that -- especially if it involved Mayweather breaking his hands. I'd play as him just to wreck his hands...and have him knocked out by someone like...I don't know, Paulie Malignaggi. That would be hilarious! Moving on, EA has started up the Ali vs. Tyson debate with the cover for Fight Night Round 4. Would you tell the G4 audience who you think would win and why?
TG: I'm probably the biggest Tyson fan out there (if he came out of retirement tomorrow I'd pay $60 to watch him fight on PPV), but this is Ali's fight. Remember Douglas-Tyson? Ali-Tyson is that fight, times a hundred. Ali wouldn't have been intimidated by Tyson, and while it would have been interesting early, given Tyson's speed, power, and deceptively good defense (the early Tyson that is), Ali had the size, chin and speed to dominate the fight in the middle to late rounds. I'd say Ali TKO11.
G4: I couldn't agree more! So you see, dear readers of TheFeed, EA Sports president Peter Moore, Fight Night Round 4 gameplay producer Brian Hayes, and one of the best boxing writers in the business, Thomas Gerbasi, have gone on record as saying Ali would win this imaginary fight. Take that!!!
To read Thomas Gerbasi's work, check out MaxBoxing.com, as well as From Fightin' to Writin' and Ring Ramblings.