The best boxing series has returned! But not in round 5, this time the game is dubbed Fight Night Champion and it brings with it a couple new features that should take your boxing experience to the next level. One of them being it’s all new story driven, Champion mode but does Fight Night Champion deliver the flashy knockout?! Or go to a boring decision?

Story
EA Sports decided to step it up this time by adding a story centred aspect to the game called “Champion Mode”. In this mode you follow the career of fictional boxer Andre Bishop as he goes from Prospect to Prison to World champion. The story is pretty much a mix of cutscenes and boxing matches; however it’s blended so well together that it makes the narrative very absorbing. You’d find yourself fighting impossible matches, playing in the shoes of the other characters and doing some bare knuckle fighting with a group of bullies in prison.
The protagonist, Andre Bishop.
EA may have taken a slight risk here and my only problem with the story mode is that it’s too short. Indeed it does what it has to do by captivating the player throughout, however it would take you less than 4 hours to beat this mode completely, which is kind of disappointing considering how much potential it had.

Gameplay
Mechanics which were introduced in Round 4 have been kept but have also received subtle changes. One of the big changes would be the free punch controls. Instead of performing difficult movements with the analogue stick, you can now just flick it in a certain direction to throw a punch. Each punch is mapped to the direction you push the stick for e.g. – If you push straight to the right, it’s a hook and if you push straight down it’s an uppercut. This was definitely one of the better changes because it now makes the gameplay much smoother and much easier but one thing that this change has affected are the speed of the punches which are now much faster compared to Round 4.

Fight Night Champion’s “Legacy Mode” has been completely revamped, making it easier to manage your boxer and get into the matches in the best condition possible. One of the changes would be the way matches are scheduled. Unlike in Round 4 where you would pick a date that suited you, now you usually compete in a match four weeks after you’ve recovered. Not a big change however it does mean that you fight many more matches and reduce the waiting time for the calendar to go through all the weeks.

Another big change would have to be the new XP system. Through your training you can earn XP which then goes towards improving certain skills such as your right hook or left jab. This makes you think more about your boxer and how to divide the points in such a way that it fits your boxers fighting style. I found this to be real tedious and the fact that no real improvement happens unless you use those points. Regarding that you can just auto it and let the CPU divide the points up for you.
New Fight Night Champion XP system.
The way you can train has also been changed up and now depends on the gym you decide to have a training camp at. There are seven gyms in total and each gym specialises in certain areas. At the beginning you will only be able to train at your home gym, however as you rank up and earn more money, you will be able to train at the more prestigious gyms where the most XP is gained. Training has been split up into two categories – Skills and Athleticism. Athleticism works on your boxers conditioning and strength while skills help you with you’re in ring abilities. Training your boxer and ranking up has become more technical then before, requiring you to think more carefully about upcoming matches and the actual wellbeing of your fighter, however I found that once you get to the top gym Big Bear and money is not a problem, you should do all your training there as going to a lower gym will not produce as great as the result.

One big change that affects your condition for a match is the stamina bar at the top left. This indicates how well your boxer is every week. If the stamina is low, you need to rest more and if the stamina is high, you can carry on training. This differs depending on the training, how much stamina it takes away and if you plan on taking a week off to attend events. Events are important since they help to raise your popularity much quicker then just going through match after match, however in the early stages of your career; going to an event does deplete your stamina so you have to choose wisely.
Legcay Mode Calender including options and boxer's Stamina bar up top.
Online Gameplay
Fight Night Champions online experience has been shaken up quite a bit with an all new feature called “Online Gyms”. You will be able to create your own boxer, gym or join one that already exists. You also get to fight other people and play in a season from start to finish, including a tournament to crown that gyms champion. I thought this was a nice touch as it brings the Fight Night community even closer together. Another thing I liked about it was that for the online gyms, you had to create your own boxer making everyone different and unique although if you created your own in Legacy mode, you probably would just want to use that.

Another new feature is the “Rivalry challenges”. You will be able to challenge other gyms for bragging rights, experience points and much more. There is also an online progression system for your boxer which is similar to legacy mode, however this time you earn you XP in every fight you take part in online.

The Online World Championships also makes a return as you can climb the ranks and eventually take on the champion of your weight class. One problem I found with this is that it tries to match you up with someone that is of similar level however I found that I would always get matched up with someone 10 levels higher and could take me down with a single punch. I do find this a little unfair to players that are just starting out and the fact that it could very well keep them away from competing online

Graphics
The graphical advancement that was seen in round 4 has been retained however more attention has been taken this time to the damage a boxer receives during a match. There’s a cut above they eye, the nose or mouth is bleeding and the most impressive looking swollen eye. Punches now look like they do big damage when they land as you watch your opponents head fly to the side, with his sweat and blood flying off of his body at the same time.
The most brutal Fight Night yet! Earning it's Mature rating.
The graphics just make the game look more authentic and brutal then it ever has before. It really captures the brutality that is the sport of boxing.

Final Verdict
Fight Night Champion fights back with a bucket load of new features but doesn’t forget to improve on the one’s introduced in Round 4. The amount of choice online is simply impressive and doesn’t cut the player short. The graphics really show how bloody boxing matches get and you can tell EA tried hard to bring you the real experience.

Overall the game hits the heavy bag hard. It’s just too bad the story was cut short even though they did a good job of telling it however the best boxing game is back and delivers the knockout we all wanted to see.

Story = 8
Gameplay = 9.5
Graphics = 9

Final We Know Gamers score = 8.8/10

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