Final Fight

EA Sports yesterday..( a bit late sorry) released their 3rd and final video highlighting the improvements made to the latest installment of the NHL Franchise.  This one highlights the newly implemented Enforcer Engine, created for use in the Fight Night franchise.  These fights now have a 3rd person perspective and it will use a physics-based punch targeting.  Player size differentiation, user-controlled celebrations afterwards, and damage that remains through the entirety of the game round out the litany of changes.  EA announced that NHL won’t be coming to any next-gen consoles.  Is this a bad thing? Maybe not.  I don’t know how many next-gen titles people are going to buy right off the bat. You can only play one game at a time right?  EA is doing the smart thing here.  Put all your energy into this generation and make it an awesome experience.

Now that all three videos are available, here is a classic fight starring the great Patrick Roy facing off against Chris Osgood.

Friday Night Flix: Fight Night

FightNight1Welcome to Friday Night Flix, where there’s never a need to leave the couch or put on pants. Every week I’ll recommend an under-the-radar movie currently available on one or more of the major streaming platforms. They won’t all be classics, but each selection is guaranteed to be 100% watchable or your money back.

The premise is simple enough: an undersized, unknown bare knuckle boxer can beat the shit out of even the beefiest heavyweights, an unusual ability upon which a hustler plans to make a mint. Pretty standard sports-themed buddy adventure if ever I saw one. The twist in the unimaginatively named Fight Night (Netflix, Hulu) is that said boxer happens to be female. Wait! Come back!

Agreed, this setup is positively ludicrous. It sounds like a Lifetime movie and not a very good one at that. It’s not that women can’t be boxers; obviously that’s not what I’m saying. It certainly wouldn’t take a very good female boxer to crush my flabby ass like a handful of Fritos. It probably wouldn’t even take one with two arms. But the idea of a 130-pound woman, no matter how preternaturally skilled, routinely knocking out trained male fighters twice her size is very hard to swallow, especially when presented as straight drama. HOWEVA, if ever a movie came reasonably close to selling that far-fetched idea, it’s this one.

FightNight4That’s not to say this is a great movie, or even a great sports movie. It’s not. Fight Night clearly has a bit of a budget behind it but overall it’s pretty lackluster indie fare. It’s bogged down by trite dialogue, useless plot digressions, and an epilogue so sappy one imagines it narrowly edged out the Scooby Doo ending a la Wayne’s World. But Fight Night has one thing – just one – in its corner. (Metaphor!) Its greatest/only achievement is the casting of former U.S. Tae Kwon-do champ Rebecca Neuenswander as the unstoppable lady boxer. She’s completely untrained as an actress but she oozes intensity and, much more importantly, she can throw a monster hook.

Fight Night goes through a very standard progression, the same one followed by pretty much every tournament pilgrimage movie from The Color of Money to Kingpin to The Wizard: the unwieldy talent and the too-slick manager come together reluctantly but eventually become co-dependent. Along the way they experience harrowing setbacks, comedic breakdowns and ultimately, against all odds, triumph.

FightNight3In Fight Night, all that hackneyed shit is as irritating as an ingrown hair. I hereby give you permission to skip it and watch only the fight scenes. It’s not like the movie is called Relationship Building Night. I could literally watch a 90-minute feature of nothing but Neuenswander kicking the shit out of people and I would be totally happy. Many actors, male and female, are unable to throw a believable punch, let alone carry themselves with the unmistakable grace of a professional fighter. Hillary Swank trained like crazy for Million Dollar Baby and she was nowhere near as convincing as Neuenswander. It’s a shame she’s focusing all her energies on her charity, but only in the super selfish sense that I would love to see her in more movies. On balance I’m sure her work with starving orphans is way more important that realizing my cinematic fantasies but still, ME ME ME.

Added Bonus: Oh for fuck’s sake. Yes, Ms. Neuenswander is very attractive and her oft-showcased abs make me ashamed of myself. Happy? FYI her last name is now Welsh because she’s MARRIED.FightNight2

VPH Looks Ahead: NHL 14

The 2012-2013 NHL season hasn’t even reached the playoffs yet but EA decided to reveal the announcement trailer for NHL ’14 anyway.  All I have to say is WOW.  One of my first posts for MB was about the lack of effort put into welcoming first time gamers into the world of an NHL game.   Not to say that EA would concern themselves with the plebes this time around either. The WOW factor is entirely based on the trailer.  The way it moves from live to in-game action is  stellar. Sometimes I couldn’t even make out which one was which. (Check out the Semin to Tlusty doozy at the :39 mark)  EA revealed a few of the new gameplay mechanics and features as well.  With sports game I usually take a 1 year break between titles.  I mean, how much can actually change in a year?  Perfect example: the MLB 2k13 fiasco.

“We’re very proud of the history of innovation that the EA SPORTS NHL franchise has produced on this console generation, and this year we’re amplifying that innovation by leveraging technology from teams like FIFA and Fight Night.  We’re very proud of the history of innovation that the EA SPORTS NHL franchise has produced on this console generation, and this year we’re amplifying that innovation by leveraging technology from teams like FIFA and Fight Night,” says Dean Richards, General Manager, NHL, EA SPORTS. “This year fans will feel the speed, skill and aggression of NHL hockey like never before, powered by some of the best EA SPORTS technology to create the best game we could ever imagine.”

According to Joystiq, the game will have a ton of new additions and tweeks to both offline and online modes.   The list includes new collision physics (used in FIFA), the Enforcer Engine (used in Fight Night), True-Performance Skating, One-Touch dekes, updates on Be a Pro, and updates to the Hockey Ultimate Team and EASports Hockey League. EA Vancouver will be using said physics engine for the first time although it was first utilized in FIFA 12, by EA Canada.  Since then some  of the kinks have been hammered out, here’s hoping we see none of this: