Review: Fight Night Champion (Xbox 360)

By Wayne Webb

Fight Night Champion is the latest entry in the line from premier games house Electronic Arts. Expectations from any EA game are always high, and in Champion, they have delivered a great game, a good story and also improved on previous versions.

Champion is a game/story that you will have seen a thousand times before if you’ve ever been a fan of the Rocky series, Ali or any boxing film where the underdog wins out in the end. It has all the elements – a young hopeful contender, a grizzled trainer and an unprincipled promoter who has bent cops on his side. Cue the “police-framed-me-up” sequence, add in some prison fights to the eventual comeback and rematch with the promoter. It is a horrifically clichéd story line, and I was constantly trying to skip these movies, but found I often couldn’t and had to sit through them. Then I got hooked and started watching it closer, I admit it did grow on me.

The game is a progression of bouts and fights, some legal – some not. The prison fights are fun, especially when the opponent head butts or punches well below the belt. The real time for Champion to shine is in the gameplay – simplified controls using a left stick/button option or the improved left/right stick variant. The twisting and quartering moves have gone largely and been replaced with flicks and jabs of the sticks. This means a faster, more fluid and ultimately more satisfying game. Gone is the repetitive button mashing, with the two sticks you can actually “box” properly.

So I find myself chugging through the story, not winning every fight, sometimes having to change strategy from opponent to opponent. Then comes the final grudge match, I won’t spoil the plot to get there – but when you get to the last fight, you WANT to win.

And therein lies the problem. All of a sudden you are boxing against Superman. How to beat him is provided to you in the form of advice from your corner, but he’s so ludicrously fast and powerful, you face a full 10 round grind of fighting, weaving and guarding. Let him through just once and you are on the mat. The steepness of the difficulty curve entering the last bout is very off putting and jars with the flow and pace of the game up to that point. But by that time you want to win as I said, so push past the sore wrists and thumbs and play on.

Pros: Improved Boxing Control, Entertaining Story, good graphics,
Cons: Ludicrously difficult final “boss”, loading times/movies hard to skip.

4.5 Shacks out of 5