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Fight Night Champion

For: iPhone   Also on: iPad

Pound-for-pound winner

Product: Fight Night Champion | Developer: EA Sports | Publisher: EA Mobile | Format: iPhone | Genre: Fighting, Sports | Players: 1-2 | Networking: wireless (network), Bluetooth | Version: Europe | App version: 1.01.21
Fight Night Champion iPhone, thumbnail 1
From Braddock to LaMotta, Balboa to Graziano, the history of boxing is populated by characters whose rise and fall and rise again make for compelling drama.

Whether it’s the struggle out of poverty, the beating of implausible odds, or the sight of a jittery, washed-up Christian Bale, the box office draw of a fisticuffs flick is undisputed.

Fight Night Champion makes a good fist of recreating this visceral experience, even though it suffers from overly complicated controls and a lack of depth.

Divide and conquer

Rather than opting for a virtual button control scheme, the game splits the screen into four hit zones that correlate to your opponent's body. So, if you fancy bruising Foreman's temple with a solid right jab, you tap the top-right quadrant.

Basic uppercuts and hooks require vertical and lateral swipes, while holding down a finger for a second or two transforms a swing into a satisfying haymaker.

During that brief delay, a corresponding Hail Mary could be heading towards your chin, meaning punches can’t be thrown willy-nilly. Likewise, your yellow stamina gauge is sapped quickly should you opt for a button-mashing gameplan.

Long-term success in Fight Night Champion demands a more cerebral, measured approach, where parrying into counterpunches and leaning past left hooks are musts.

Unfortunately, manoeuvring to the outside is often made difficult by the tilt-to-move mechanic. The tiniest of adjustments can send your boxer into unwanted retreat mode.

Toe-to-toe with Tyson

Before stepping into the ring you need to customise your fighter’s stance, height, hair length, and signature moves. Unsurprisingly, given the realistic nature of the beast, you begin your career as a 20-year-old rookie, all low stats, bright eyes, and a straight nose.

In addition to leaving your own Fight Night legacy, you can step into the virtual boots and gloves of 20 current (Pacquiao, Cotto, Haye) and former greats (Robinson, Leonard, Holyfield) to relive classic match-ups at the world-famous Staples Center.

Each of the game's real-life venues is rendered in impressive detail, with dynamic lighting sparkling into effect as you pirouette around the ring, and a tornado camera capturing and replaying the brutal pummelling in super slow motion.

Running commentary from US telly man Joe Tessitore amid the partisan heckling lends Fight Night Champion an authentic atmosphere.

Friendly rivalries

And if you know a pal who appreciates the finer points of pugilism, you can resolve your differences in person over local wi-fi and Bluetooth (only on iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and third- and fourth-generation iPod touchs).

Yep, that’s right: online multiplayer is conspicuous by its absence in an EA Sports title once more, an unfathomable decision given the one-on-one context and the lesser demands on the servers.

Whilst Fight Night Champion is a noble attempt at the noble art - granting you the unique opportunity on iPhone and iPod touch to bob and weave against The Greatest – the ungainly controls and narrow Career mode leave it scarred.
Fight Night Champion
Reviewer photo
Richard Brown | 7 March 2011
Striking the balance between realism and drama means Fight Night Champion is enjoyable, even if it lacks great controls and online multiplayer
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