The latest in the Fight Night series is bigger, better, and more punishingly realistic than ever before
It’ll Be all Fight On the Night
Some have criticised Fight Night’s gameplay as lacking in dramatic flair, and its gameplay has even been described as “soulless”. It’s difficult to argue with this assessment outright, but such a judgement still doesn’t outweigh just how fantastic of a boxing game Fight Night Champion really is. The “soulless” observation is understandable given the rather clinical nature of Fight Night’s gameplay – its gritty realism can make the whole thing feel like an exhibition of the technical skills of boxing. However, Fight Night Champion benefits from the addition of a story mode, as well as improvements to the fighting/control mechanics that are far more than just incremental tweaks like you’d find in sports game such as FIFA.
Tweaks for Days
The best place to start with fight night is the gameplay. Here you’ll find a host of tweaks that will most certainly improve the overall Fight Night Champion experience for veteran players, even die-hard Fight Night Round 4 for PS3 fans who’ve come to know and love their control system. Controls remain in largely the same format at they have always been in the Fight Night series. You control movement with the left analogue stick and punching with the right. This is to be expected, but it feels natural and it’s one of the features I’m happy has stayed the same.
EA have absolutely done us all a favour by tweaking the way in which punches are thrown, however. Gone are the annoyingly nuanced flicks of the analogue stick, each subtle flick or movement resulting in different punches. Instead, Fight Night Champion hits us up, quite literally, with a direction-based punch-control system. Think of it as the different moves based around a compass: flick up and right (North-East) to execute a right jab, while flicking directly to the left (West) will initiate a right hook. I have to say, this improved system is absolutely sublime, and though it may take a little getting used to, it allows for tactical gameplay, both defensive and offensive, that’s much deeper than previous titles of the series.
Release Date: 04/03/2011
Available on: Xbox 360, PS3
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Rocky but Not Rocky
The quantity of technical boxing techniques in the game (from jabs and hooks to scoop-hook punches like the “Hookercut”) has always run Fight Nigh the risk of feeling like a clinical, detached experience involving end-to-end displays of technical and tactical exhibitions and nothing more. Tis is why EA have introduced a story mode, and it’s a belter to say the least, even if it’s pretty much the plot and sentiment of Rocky and the Rocky legacy in everything but name.
You might think it cheesy, almost tasteless to have a story mode that involves a young man rise from nobody to world-class boxer, but even though this is what happens in Champion mode, it’s simply too full of brilliance not to be enjoyed. You’re playing as Andre Bishop, who’s being trained the man that raised in in lieu of his real father. Cue the dramatic cut-scenes ranging from classic Rocky-style training sequences to stepping into the ring in a variety of contexts: to beat down a white-power nutcase in a prison boxing match, through to amateur bouts and then on to your professional career.
It’s difficult to describe just how well EA has managed to weave in virtually every technical and tactical element of boxing into Champion mode. Fights range from standard ones where you need to knock out your opponent cleanly, through to playing against the odds as a result of the referee having been bribed to rule decisions in your opponent’s favour. Personal grudges, setbacks, finding love, and rising to become a champion are just a few of the ups and downs you’ll encounter. There is so much depth to the story that it’s worth purchasing the game for this reason alone.
The Beautiful Horror
One last thing worth a mention here is the next-level realism of Fight Night Champion. The technical and tactical details aside, the damage system of the game has been improved yet again. The impacts feel real enough to make you shudder with every solid connection of a punch. Wounds vary from minor scratches to deep gashes, and the realistic blood physics means that both you and your opponent will get very bloody very quickly, and the ring will also start to get stained crimson red as well. The graphics also border on photorealistic, fanning the flame of visceral realism already roaring from this game’s outset. EA Sports has done it again with Fight Night Champion, and they’ve done it in sublime style. Rating: 95/100
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Fight Night Champion is developed by EA Canada.