Is this a champion in the making?
For me, the best boxing game up till now was Fight Night Round 3. While I enjoyed 4, it didn’t add button punches till a later update after release and it felt very similar in terms of gameplay. Champion could have done the same and rested on its laurels, but instead it mixes things up…but is it for the better?
Fight Night Champion finally has a deep and enjoyable story mode which begins as soon as you pop the disc in. The beginning acts like a tutorial and if you wish to continue the story after the first fight, you can…or you can go straight to the other modes like career and online. The story mode is called Champion Mode and follows the rise, fall and rebirth of a boxer through his career and it borrows every aspect from the likes of Rocky to make a compelling story that I thoroughly enjoyed from beginning to end.
The career mode is sadly, more or less the same as it was in past games and as a result, a bit dated and old by today’s standards. To be honest, the game could have easily coped without the career mode when the Champion mode is so strong. You can play classic fights or take on the legends like Ali and Tyson with your created fighter and take them online, although training your fighter still involves silly mini-games that are difficult to do and not enjoyable in the slightest.
Fighting mechanics have changed a bit. You can choose to throw punches with the buttons or the analog stick, but it’s more responsive to use the right analog stick than it was in FNR4. You can now also hold down buttons to put extra power in your punches at the expense of your stamina, but it really does some major damage if the punch connects. Also dodging, strafing, blocking and counterattacking are easier to pull off, making fights more enjoyable and satisfying. You can button-mash on an easier difficulty, but you can still be caught off guard by a sneaky left hook to the face, so just be careful.
To play and access the online features, you’ll need to redeem your EA Online Pass or use the 7-day trial. So just be warned if you get this game second-hand as you may have to buy access through Xbox Live and for EA games that do this, it can cost anywhere from 400-800 Microsoft Points, so be warned! Fight Night Champion is the best looking game of this generation. Everything from landed punches, blood, scars and facial expressions are truly amazing, making the fighters look the most human I’ve seen in a boxing game. Differences between the PS3 and 360 versions are next to none visually or in terms of load times. Commentary and the soundtrack are a mixed bag, but decent enough.
Fight Night Champion is the best boxing game that I’ve played, period. It rips apart its competitors with an amazing story mode and a revamped fighting system. The career mode may be the same old dullness, but just play the Champion mode and you’ll see just why the game deserves to use that word.