“A story mode? In a BOXING game? Oh you mean a career mode… What? An actual story?!”
It was one of those announcements that prompted a double take – EA Sports latest instalment of the Fight Night series would contain a Rocky-esque story mode in which you take on the role of Andre Bishop, a former Gold medalist who finds himself wrongly sent to prison.
The immediate concern for some fans of the series was that this would be at the expense of the career mode, where you build your own fighter and battle to the top.
That certainly isn’t true, career mode is present and correct, but what surprised me was that after playing the story I had no interest in moving on to the career mode I loved in Fight Night Round 4.
That isn’t a criticism of the career mode at all, it’s just that the story mode (clocking in under 6 hours) was more than enough single player action for me and I suspect the career mode wouldn’t grab me as much.
Let’s back up a little bit and talk about the game in general.
The graphics are improved and the fighters move fluidly enough, there are still a couple of stiff animations but overall Fight Night Champion looks the part. The cut scenes in the story mode look great and you can see a lot of care has gone into them.
As for gameplay, they have included face button controls for those who don’t want to use the analogue sticks – so hopefully everyone’s happy? – and the fights themselves are great to be involved in. A plus for me is the inclusion of one punch knockouts, which were missing last time and I felt Round 4 suffered for it.
Moving back to the story, it’s a nice little tale – if a bit predictable – with some good voice acting and writing. The story mode isn’t just straight up fights all the time, it will also throw you into various scenarios (only use one hand, defend your cut eye etc) which helps add to the drama and spectacle.
Fight Night Champion’s story won’t be winning any awards but it’s well told and does the job it needs to. I certainly came out of the other end with a smile on my face and would be interested in playing another story mode if EA made one (whether that’s in boxing, football, hockey or whatever).
The online works fine and I enjoyed my time during the free trial – I don’t think I got enough out of it to pay up for the online pass (if you buy the game new you get the pass with it) but there was no lag whatsoever and I had a couple of good fights.
Overall then I’d recommend Fight Night Champion but as good as it is, maybe more as a rent than a buy. If you’re really into boxing games then I’d say buy it but for the more casual fan I’m not sure there is enough longevity for a purchase.