Game Rant’s Jason Weissman reviews Fight Night Champion
Fight Night Champion, EA Sports’ newest entry into its popular Fight Night series, promised to be more than just a yearly refresh. Without any serious competition in the boxing genre, EA Sports could have simply made a few minor tweaks to the gameplay and revamped the roster of licensed boxers, and the title would have still sold well.Instead, the sports giant opted to revamp the damage, conditioning and endurance systems while also modifying the controller configuration. Additionally, online play was entirely reconfigured and EA Sports heavily promoted these new additions with a series of video trailers. The most heavily featured addition however, was the new “Champion” mode, which put players in the role of a talented up and comer, Andre Bishop. Lastly, EA Sports brought back the popular Legacy mode where players could create their own boxers to try to win a championship belt. Does the combination of these new features significantly improve on the feature set of Fight Night 4? Read on to find out.
There Will Be Blood
Visually, Fight Night Champion is the best looking boxing game if not, one of the best looking sports titles ever released on the consoles. From the appearance of the boxers to the equipment they are wearing, there is amazing attention to detail. During the slo-mo replays, you’ll see your opponent’s skin ripple from the impact of your punches. But where Fight Night Champion really excels is in the much hyped damage system. As fights progress, you’ll notice swelling and cuts beginning to form over fighters’ eyes, blood spray on impact, and blood spatter on the boxing mat. Do enough damage to your opponent’s eye, and the referee will stop the fight.
The in-ring action is smooth and the punching animations never appear choppy or canned. A referee now also appears in the ring to rule over the action. For the sake of realism, this is a great addition, but occasionally the referee did obscure my vision of the fight, especially in Champion mode. Changing the camera view to a different view helped, but it is something of which to be mindful.
One of the complaints some had about Fight Night 4 was the change from a button-controlled punch system to an analog system. EA Sports responded to the fans by providing more control choices in Fight Night Champion. The analog controls return but in the form of the new “Full Spectrum Punch Control” scheme and it works well for the most part. After several hours of gameplay, I began to feel that the analog scheme was much more intuitive and easier on my fingers than a button scheme, which I had preferred in the past. Occasionally, I had some issues where I inadvertently head-butted my opponent or triggered an intentional low blow, but this was a rare occurrence. For those who still prefer to punch using buttons, EA Sports brought back the option to do so.
Blocking is a fairly straightforward experience: if you time the block with your opponent’s punch, you will always do so successfully. If you choose to leave your guard up, your attributes will determine whether you get clobbered or not. One of the nicer features is that you can throw punches while still holding the block trigger and you will immediately return to the guard position after your flurry.
Unless you set the difficulty level to Easy, spamming punches is definitely a bad idea as not only will you possibly leave yourself open to a counterattack, you’ll pay a big price with the new conditioning and endurance system. Overuse of the same limb will result in sluggish performance and too many punches in one round may cause your fighter to start sucking wind, leaving you very vulnerable. Gamers will be rewarded for taking a more tactical approach as catching your opponent with the right punch at the right time could result in a flash knockdown or one-punch knockout.