I have to say, the portable version of EAâ€™s Fight Night Champion game on the iPhone holds up quite well. Since I havenâ€™t played its big brother (read: console) version, I cannot make direct comparisons. However, what I can tell you is that this is certainly a tight little game for you to put on your mobile device if you are into the boxing franchise and an arcade-like experience.
At the start of the game you are presented with three choices: Fight Now, Legacy and Multiplayer. Strangely enough the â€śFight Nowâ€ť option always pits Ali against Tyson, in a match I am sure many would like to see. Legacy is the closest thing Fight Night has to a single-player game but sadly there is no narrative to lead you down the path of becoming champion. Instead, you simply select your fights, do some training at the start of a match in order to boost your stats and then fight. After the match you can move onto the next one and continue this process until you get a shot at a title belt. Multiplayer works by finding or creating a local game for a nearby friend to join using wi-fi. Unfortunately, since I do not know anyone else who owns the game, I was not able to try this out - sorry! [it's ok, 20 press-ups will do as recompense. - Ed.]
The controls have their good points and their bad points. Before each match you are shown a list of all the moves in the game. I cannot recommend learning this enough because otherwise the game is pure chaos and you will most likely suck. However, if you take 2-5 minutes to learn the moves the game suddenly opens up a lot. For a touch screen game, I am most impressed with how intuitive and responsive most of the controls are. Although, sometimes the matches can still seem a bit random and punches will land even though it looks like they missed or were blocked. The only real downside to the controls is moving around the ring; this is controlled by the using the iPhoneâ€™s tilt sensor. While this makes complete sense, it is simply not responsive enough and during some fights I found it impossible to get my champion to rotate to the right, no matter which way I was tilting my phone.
Both during and after each fight, you are given a lot of good stats to let know how you are doing and what you should work on. Also, based on how you did in a round, you are given points to spend between rounds in order to replenish either your health, stamina or damage. This adds a nice element of strategy to each fight as you have to keep an eye on all three of these stats to make sure you can keep fighting at an optimal level.
While Fight Night is definitely a good looking and well animated game, the stand-out feature for me was the commentary voice-overs. These guys were a lot of fun to listen to throughout each fight, ended up being less repetitive than the gameplay and really did a fantastic job of pulling you into the fight.
Fight Night Champion reminded me a lot of the old arcade games I used to play when I was younger. I almost felt like I should have put 20c into my phone before each fight. Now, if you are like me and spent a lot of your childhood throwing coins into machines for pleasure (not like that, grow up!), then you will realise what a cool quality that is for a game to have. Also, like so many iPhone games, it has that perfect pick up and play for ten minutes quality. So if you like boxing games in general and enjoy iPhone games that you can use to kill some time on the bus with, then you really cannot go too wrong with Fight Night Champion