Prepare for a departure from traditions of old, as Fight Night Champion proves to be different and more innovative than its past iterations. EA has successfully updated the series on a number of fronts, making this game a better and more well rounded title. If you like boxing simulation games, this is about as good as it gets.
From the moment you turn it on, you will notice this game is moving outside the box it made for itself with Fight Night: Round 4. The biggest addition this year is the ability to play through a story mode. In the campaign, you play as Andre Bishop, an up-and-coming amateur boxer who is fighting his way to the top of the ladder. In your rise to the top, you are betrayed by a rival promoter and framed for a crime you did not commit. You spend the rest of the game climbing back up, one step at a time, from fighting inmates, all the way to taking on the champion. It is a simple story line, and definitely predictable, but it still manages to keep you entertained; best of all, it manages to stay fun. The only issue I have with the story is that it is extremely short. You can complete the story mode in about 3 to 4 hours. This is fine for a sports game, but it would have been nice if the story took a few more detours before getting to its destination.
Another noticeable difference is the way you box. This game is much more technical than past games, and button mashing is just not going to cut it. You will have to carefully select your openings and use combinations as much as you can. Right from the beginning, the game encourages you to move around the ring, defend, and counter, and it will punish you for not playing this way. The good thing about this system is that, for as much as they push you to play a certain way, they give you a great tutorial to make sure you know exactly what you are doing.
The game also excels in the visual department. The fighters are well rendered and look very realistic. The fighters now take realistic damage based on the fight, rather than the fighters getting damaged in the same spots every time. Many of the cuts you get in the fight continue to bleed while you are playing, adding another level of realism that past versions of the game lacked. The new system makes this game much more immersive that it has ever felt before. If you’ve ever complained about poor graphics or unrealistic gameplay, this game addresses all those concerns. Just for that, this game is worth picking up, but there are more reasons to pick up this game than just the graphics alone.
The games “Legacy” mode is very interesting this time around, allowing you to use the full set of tools usually seen in EA games to control the look and feel of your created character. With several different styles to choose from, the game really let’s you play the way you want to play, whether that be a power puncher or a defensive specialist. Once you choose your style, you may find it difficult to play the game outside of that style, since the upgrade costs of adding skills outside your established tree are very expensive. The only flaw in this mode comes with the actual process of earning upgrade points. The training mode, where you will spend a good amount of time, tends to be boring, and I found myself trying to complete the section as quickly as possible so I could start fighting in the ring again. Here, they could have taken a page out of UFC: Undisputed’s book, and train by having you perform specific actions in the ring, rather than monotonous tasks. The game makes up for these flaws by having a great leveling system. You can level each type of punch, and after a certain amount of time, you gain abilities, like being able to flash knockout a player or one-hit punch-outs. It feels really good and natural, and is definitely a great addition to the game.
Fight Night Champion is a good example of a big gaming company taking some chances and succeeding in making a better game. I would have liked to have seen EA go a little further with the tweaks they made, such as a longer, more in-depth story and a more compelling training mode. There is too much to love about this game to not look past its flaws and embrace the changes for the positive. I really hope they keep going in this direction, since it could only further the franchise. I highly recommend you pick up this title; you will find the game very approachable, and you’ll be a Fight Night Champion fan in no time at all.
This review is based on a retail copy of the Playstation 3 version of Fight Night Champions by EA Sports
- Excellent Story Mode
- More Technical Experience
- Incomplete Training Mode
- Could Have Done More With the Story