Fight Night Champion is the fifth outing for EA’s boxing franchise, and it introduces another major change to the controls. Gone is the total punch control system from Fight Night Round 4, which involved swivelling the right stick around to throw punches, and gave us a liberal scattering of thumb blisters. The new contender offers full-spectrum punch control.
This simplifies matters considerably, so instead of having to swivel the stick, it just needs to be tapped in one direction to loose off a hook, uppercut or straight. Pushing it to the left throws a left hook, and to the right, a right-hander. It’s a more streamlined system which also makes blocking more intuitive. Furthermore, EA has reintroduced basic button controls for those who don’t like throwing punches with the right analogue stick.
Otherwise, the boxing engine remains pretty much the same, which is a good thing, as the pacing is near-perfect for a realistic flow to the fights. Try to do too much punching and you’ll leave yourself tired and open, although fighters seem to have a little more stamina for explosive combinations in Fight Night Champion. The graphics are marvellously detailed, with sophisticated damage modelling, replays of big punches from different angles, and the ability to record these.
We are the champions!
New to this instalment is the Champion mode, a cinematic campaign that follows the story of an up-and-coming boxer who ends up framed and in jail. It comes complete with cut-scenes, psycho heavyweights, crooked promoters… basically, everything except a training montage sequence played out to Eye of the Tiger. While the campaign is a little short, it presents some novel challenges and is a refreshing extra.
The standard legacy career mode remains the same at its core, but with a more fleshed-out training and progression system, which is very welcome. Further attention has been given to the online multiplayer game, which now includes gyms you can join up with to train and fight against other rival establishments: a very smart addition.
- Refined controls; additional story-based campaign.
- Um... nothing to complain about, really.
Fight Night Champion marks an impressive step forward for the franchise, with some clever tweaks to the career and multiplayer modes. The additional story-driven campaign offers a refreshing change of pace, and the control system has been pleasingly refined. At its heart, the boxing remains the same measured and tactical experience, and the whole package comes highly recommended.