While boxing’s popularity has greatly diminished in the past decade due to the rise of Mixed Martial Arts, there’s still a lot of love for the resilient combat sport. EA Sport’s Fight Night series has traditionally done a great job of marrying the sport’s legendary figures with today’s champions and prospects. Fight Night Champion is no different, and it marks the first time the proud franchise has come to the iOS platform. Time to ring the bell and find out if this prospect should have realistic championship aspirations.
EA usually delivers in spades on user interface and polish for their iOS games, and Fight Night Champion has received the same careful treatment. The tone of the sport has a gritty feel that permeates the entire game. No, this game doesn’t come close to boasting the same number of licensed characters as its console brother, but the many of the main guys are here. Ali, Tyson, Pacman, De La Hoya, and Hearns help comprise the 20 fighter roster. Each of them looks great and the fighters’ go-to moves add an element of signature style to the party. Color commentary and slow motion knockdown sequences are in full effect.
What, no bite button?
Boxing is known as the sweet science but, regrettably, there’s nothing sweet about the controls in Fight Night Champion. All fighter movement is steered by iOS tilt controls, without an alternative. Throwing punches, parrying shots and weaving out the opposition’s attacks come from specific taps and drags. We believe this approach could have looked good in the brainstorming meetings, but it’s not practical or comfortable even with practice.
Firing off combinations by remembering specific gestures is hard in the heat of the battle. When you add tilting your device to move around the ring, it’s not a pretty sight. This fact is most clearly evident when the A.I. is dancing around the ring with fluidity and grace while you struggle to putz around. It boggles our mind why a virtual control pad option wasn’t included for many of us that find the tilt action too inaccurate and sluggish.
About to get grilled.
Fight Night Champion is lean on modes, too. The main feature is Legacy Mode, in which you create a boxer from scratch and work up to the world championship. Or you can rebuild a real fighter, which will send you through a ladder-style progression to a title fight. Gaining experience from fights earn points to upgrade attributes, and menu based training mini-games allow you to focus on boosting performance for each fight.
A.I. opposition usually relies on either running around the the whole fight or standing right in from of you begging to be knocked out. Regardless of how bizarre the computer’s strategy is, it’s nice to see one executed from start to finish. Wrapping up the scope of options are Quick Fight and local multiplayer for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
Superb execution on the presentation components notwithstanding, Fight Night Champion deserves to be stripped of any crown due to poor planning on controls and the skimpy set of modes available. Only if you love boxing should you check this game out to see if the controls speak to you better than they did for us.