The Fight Night series is one of the most popular boxing games on consoles and has been going for a few years with EA releasing a new title most years. With each release comes the boast of features from added realism to more control over each punch. The release of Fight Night Champion is slightly different. Yes there is added realism and even greater control over more punches but it now has the added feature of a pretty good story line to the career mode…

Start up Fight Night Champion and you’ll be graced with a grand entrance of a video intro to the game with some spectacular knock outs and bloody faces and gives you a feel to the rest of the game. Once the intro finishes you are thrown straight into the action without any real warning. The screen goes dark and you’re picking yourself up off the floor from being knocked down. You are back in the corner and then the camera drops down behind the shoulders of your fighter as you get used to your surroundings, finding yourself in a prison, fighting against another inmate. All this and no sight of a menu screen – its very clever and slightly brave by EA to change the game style.
Fight Night Champion Game Review PlayEject
But it works. You can actually play the game in this career mode without ever seeing a menu (unless you pause). There’s no standard menu screen asking you to confirm which boxing match type you want or which class or any of it. This means the different scenes between each fight in the career mode of Fight Night Champion are seemless and it is more like taking part in a Rocky movie rather than playing a game.

The story of the game is pretty gritty – the cliche’s are all present with the main character being trained by an old timer, Gus, who plays by the book and knows the business. The young up and coming boxers who want the fame and money are all with the more shady promoters who are classic fat-cats in pin stripes and cigars. The story gets going on the Champion mode with the flashbacks to how our boxer got into the present day situation of Prison when he had it all as a rising star. You get to fight in the matches that made him the superstar boxer.

Fight Night Champion is not all about the career mode though – you are able to play single matches and online bouts with any of the famous faces from the roster. From Tyson to Sugar-Ray Leonard, the roster is packed ready for you to recreate classic matches or take on someone from the other side of the world online.

The fighting itself is not too dissimilar to Fight Night 4 – the dual sticks allow you to move around and throw a variety of punches with the upper body being the default and the left triggers toggling the body shots while other shoulder buttons toggle the heavy punches and blocking/weaving. The face buttons (x, y, triangle, etc) can also be used for the punches and uppercuts but somehow don’t feel as fluid as the sticks.

When throwing punches the weight behind each punch feels chunky enough to be satisfying and the speed of each fighter is noticeable not only on how they move around the ring but also the speed at which jabs and hooks are thrown. We mostly went for the slighter of chaps as we prefer speed but in doing so we sacrificed damage with our stronger punches so had to rely on fast jabs to wear down the opponent and duck and weave.Fight Night Champion Game Review PlayEject

The whole presentation of Fight Night Champion is exactly what we’ve come to expect from EA’s big money games – it looks brilliant, plays well and the cut scenes that skip to news stories where you’re featured are a great little addition. The boxing environments are made to impress and overwhelm (when you get to the larger Las Vegas style locations) with crowd shouts, instructions from your corner and grunts from each boxer as a jab lands in the face, splattering a bit of blood to the floor.

Attention to detail has been made on the character modeling – each boxer closely resembling their real life counter parts and even while fighting, the beads of sweat or the way a fighter swings looks so good it as close to the real thing we’ve seen so far.

On the downside, like all sports games, Fight Night Champion can get a bit repetitive but the variety in the boxers and their classes means you do have to adapt your in ring strategy if you pick a different boxer and the fantastic career mode is design to allow fluidity to the game which gives that ‘one more fight’ feel. The online play is great but we did find ourselves fighting a lot of Manny Pacquiao’s and Tyson’s and players who’d obviously spent a lot of time online just obliterating other, less experienced players which was disheartening. Still – find a decent opponent and there’s no better feeling than knocking your opponent down after 9 hard rounds of working the body….

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