The Fight Night franchise has set the bar for boxing simulations since it debuted on the PS2 and Xbox with Fight Night 2004. Since then the series has always been able to evolve with it’s gameplay, controls and graphics. The games have definitely come a long way since their current generation days. With the move towards next generation consoles the franchise has shifted towards faster gameplay and high-definition graphics. In comes EA Sports with its latest iteration Fight Night Champion. Does this release deliver the knockout or does it fall flat on the mat? Read the review to find out.
Fight Night Champion has a mode called Champion Mode. For the first time in the series the game features a storyline complete with cut scenes and professional voice work. The storyline is based on the career of fighter Andre Bishop that treads familiar boxing movie territory but it’s very well done regardless. Andre Bishop is a rising star in the boxing world and after refusal to sign with a corrupt promoter he finds himself behind bars with his career in a downward spiral. You take control of Andre Bishop as he rebuilds his career while on his way to becoming a boxing champion. He’s a likeable character and it’s great to follow his path towards redemption and success. Unfortunately Champion Mode lasts only a few hours so it can be completed in one sitting. This is the first time that an EA Sports game has received a mature rating. I was happy about that. The fights are more brutal. The game is darker and grittier. Even the language is explicit. The game does feature an impressive roster of 50 fighters. That’s the largest roster in a fight night game thus far. There are 21 venues in which you can compete in.
There are certain scenarios that you are put in. For example, in one match your fighter breaks his hand. To add to that you must knock your opponent down at the same time so it’s not simply about winning. Another match has you knocking down your opponent only with the use of body shots. Another scenario has you winning only by knockout. You also get trophies and achievements for defeating the game’s huge roster of fighters.
Fight Night Champion features some of the best looking graphics that I have seen in a video game. The fighters themselves are very detailed and look really good. Skin texture is amazing with realistic looking scars. Blood fills the air after a devastating punch and it drips from open wounds. A fighter’s face ripples after getting tagged with a huge punch. Sweat flies off a fighter’s forehead. Tape on a boxer’s gloves gets covered in blood as does the boxing ring. Fighter entrances are well done. The crowd is realistic and adds to the atmosphere rather than looking like cardboard cutouts. Even the ring girls look really good. The terrific presentation makes you truly feel as if you are watching a boxing match.
Another aspect of Fight Night Champion that I really liked was the audio. Punches land with a vicious thud. Fighters react really well when they are in pain. The soundtrack features hip hop themed music which works really well for the game. The trainer will give his fighter advice between each round. The crowd gets alive when they cheer and boo. Joe Tessitore and Teddy Atlas do a good job of calling the fights.
Previous entries in the series featured a complex punching system. However, there is a new addition this time around which is called Full Spectrum Control. Every punch is thrown by flicking the stick in a given direction which gives you more options as to what kinds of punches you want to throw. They can be thrown by pressing the buttons as well. You really feel like you are in control. Button mashing will not only result in a lost fight but also in tiring out your fighter very quickly. Gone is the haymaker and this it time it is replaced by a modifier which adds extra force to every punch. Blocking is done with one button to make thing simpler. Flash knockout requires a player to utilize defense effectively. Getting KO’d with one punch is always a threat.
Fight Night Champion features a solid Legacy mode with a couple of flaws. You create a fighter and take him up the ranks to become number one. Your created fighter’s stats are pretty bad to start with but you can improve upon them as you win. There is no story to push you forward. Instead, you just compete from one boxing match to another. I didn’t care for the training mini-games. They seemed more of a chore than fun. They were really pointless because you don’t even get punished for not successfully completing them.
Fight Night Champion also features a solid online experience. Your created fighter won’t start off strong but you can build his stats as you move along. EA Sports really did a good job with the online aspect. I could see it becoming even better in the future. You even have the ability to create your own gym which is a really neat feature. Other fighters can take part in the gym as well. Regular bouts and tournaments can be set up.
Fight Night Champion is a great addition to series. I am really glad that the game was given a mature rating due to it’s grittier and more brutal atmosphere. The storyline in Campaign Mode was compelling and exciting though the mode itself is too short. The huge roster of fighters is impressive. The graphics are some of the best that I have seen in a video game. The audio is well done. I liked the Full Spectrum Control system. I really enjoyed the different scenarios that you need to fulfill throughout Campaign Mode. Legacy Mode is good but it does have a couple of flaws with that being the training mini games. It’s capped off by a solid online offering. Fight Night Champion is the best entry in the series and is one of the best sports video games of the year.