Fight Night Champion for iPhone Review

EA’s iPhone offerings have been awesome of late. Though I’ve been reluctant to buy NBA Jam and Dead Space 2 on the current generation of consoles for $60, I’ve had no problem buying NBA Jam and Dead Space on the iPhone for a fraction of the cost. Both of those games were great examples of taking home gaming experience and translating it into a mobile platform.

I was hoping that Fight Night Champion would follow suit. I love the series, but a game-breaking glitch I ran into with Fight Night Round 4 makes me reluctant to pick up Champion on console. However, I have no problem giving the iPhone game a shot at $5. Is this iPhone port a knock out?

Let’s get the obvious out of the way. The Fight Night series is renown for its amazing graphics, and strictly based on looks, the iPhone game doesn’t stack up. It’s not going to impress anyone visually. In fact, I wouldn’t call you wrong if you called it ugly. To it’s credit, the fighters are still recognizable, the animation is pretty good, and it doesn’t hurt the gameplay. It’s a little disappointing that EA couldn’t get this one as close to parity as NBA Jam or Dead space, but I’ll deal with it.

What thankfully did carry over from the console versions for the most part is the gameplay. Experienced Fight Night players will easily grasp the game’s core concepts of strategic punching and countering. If you’re new to the series, the key words of wisdom I can give you is to not wildly throw punches. By doing so, you burn your stamina out too quickly and you’ll find yourself on the canvas in no time. If simulation boxing on the go sounds like something you’d dig, then this may be for you.

I love how the game controls on console. The dual-analog system feels great and gives players a lot of control when it comes to moving, punching, blocking and dodging. On the iPhone, EA tries their best to mimic that experience through touching, swiping and tilting, which ends in varying results. Throwing standard jabs, hooks, uppercuts and haymakers works fine. Other commands however, don’t fare so well. Character movement can get awkward at times, since it’s handled by tilting your phone. While the game gives you sensitivity controls, it doesn’t give you any indication of how close or far you are from the dead zone, where your character will stand still. This led to me throwing side-step punches a lot when I thought I was standing still. Also, because you’re constantly moving the screen, your head has to constantly move with it. This can get tiring for your hands and head after a while.

Blocking can be annoying, as someone who has played the console Fight Night games. You block simply by placing both thumbs either on the bottom of the screen to block your body, or on the top of the screen to block your head. On console, you could slide your thumb up the stick to transition from blocking your body to your head, but that doesn’t work here. Instead, you have to pull your thumbs off the screen and then onto the other half. Maybe if you’ve never played the console games before, this won’t be a problem. However, I still can’t get accustomed to not being able to slide my fingers up to block my face.

Though I’ve spent hours with this game, not once have I been able to throw a signature punch. The game tells you to do a ‘check mark’ style motion with your thumb, which has never worked for me. They’re not critical to the success of your battle, but this option not working at all for me is a bit alarming.

Fight Night Champion on the iPhone has two modes: Play Now and Legacy. Play Now pits you in a quick match with real-life fighters, while legacy mode is a scaled-down version of the career mode in other Fight Night games. The latter is where I’ve spent most of my time. It’s still fun to work your way up the ranks against a number of different opponents. I like how each fighter seems to have different AI routines to mix up the action. However, the AI is also susceptible to getting stuck along the ropes, which can give you time to throw a good 10 hooks to their face before they react.

As much as I like this game, I recognize that some people will not be able to overlook the game’s shortcomings. If you can’t, that’s fine. If you can, you’re in for a fairly fun Fight Night experience on the go.

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