“I’m the biggest and the best! Better than the rest!” as Clawfinger once said…
On that note, I played the hell out of Fight Night Champion for SquareGo. Is it the best? read my review and see!
Fight Night Champion
Between the legendary bouts of Rocky, the bittersweet moments of Million Dollar Baby or the more recent Oscar bait The Fighter, it’s clear that there is always a cinematic audience for an underdog boxer. Being that there is barely a movie trend that doesn’t work its way to the humble games console, it’s not really surprising that eventually someone would try to emulate that success.
Probably for the best that it was EA’s Sports label that decided to rework their already well respected Fight Night series into something a little less roster-based and a little more like Rocky. In fact, this little shot of narrative fills in the little hole that lay in the Fight Night series that might have put off a lot of the casual perusers. Instead of a dry listing of palookas, we get the highly predictable yet hugely enjoyable story of fictional Middleweight André Bishop; his rise to fame, fall from grace and eventual return to glory.
It’s pretty predictable stuff, with André falling foul of corrupt promoter DL McQueen, a craggy bald monster of a man [last seen ruling on Helghast – Ed] whose inexplicably attractive and sassy daughter provides the eye candy throughout. A burgeoning romance threates to blossom but thankfully never delivers, as THIS IS SPORT! Narrative shenanigans lead to André spending several years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit; before returning to the ring, harder, tougher, heavily tattooed and now with a title shot.
The story-led Champion mode also lets players enjoy a more target based series of bouts, including bare-knuckle boxing matches with neo-nazi convicts but also has a few irritating quirks. Most notable the limiting on later bouts, where André must fight only left-handed, or deliver only head shots. While these do break up the flow in an amusing way, several are ridiculously difficult on any setting, and the final Title Match borders on being absurdly monotonous.
Of course no Fight Night game would be complete without the Legacy mode first seen on Fight Night Round 4 as, lets face it, we’ve always wanted to try out the challenge of pitting a modern champ against a seasoned pro of yesteryear. It also gives players the option of working their own created boxers or modifications of the existing champs. This time around there are over 50 fighters to choose from, making this easily the most plentiful roster in a boxing game. What’s more, there are a wealth of fighters available via downloadable content for anyone who finds their favourite isn’t already in place.
Control-wise, this is an even more refined version of the system, requiring a seasoned player to use only the sticks and shoulder buttons to get the best out of their avatar. Although more than adequate provision is in place for button mashers and luckers, there is a definite boon to those who learn the quick combos and practice their dodging and weaving.
There really isn’t much that can be said against Fight Night Champion, it’s a worthy addition to the series and easily bests the competition. The few gripes about the single player mode are easily outweighed by the rest of the game’s great moments, versatility and sheer solid fun. Frankly the best boxing game going and deserving of a place on any gamer’s shelf.