Fight Night a knockout

Bare-knuckle fights, corrupt promoters, Rocky-like comebacks — they’re the stuff of boxing. Now they come in video-game form with Fight Night Champion.

Fight Night Champion

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

Genre: Sports; Publisher: EA Sports

ESRB Rating: M, for Mature

Grade: 4 stars (out of 5)

Bare-knuckle fights, corrupt promoters, Rocky-like comebacks — they’re the stuff of boxing. Now they come in video-game form with Fight Night Champion.

EA Sports made a bold move by not only adding a story mode to its signature boxing franchise, but also taking the franchise from its usual teen rating into the mature category.

You play the Champion mode as Andre Bishop, a middleweight who gets sent to prison at his peak and must battle his way back to glory in the heavyweight division after his release from the Big House. The challenges make you strategize, not just mash buttons.

The controls scheme has been slightly improved from Fight Night 4. The hit detection is better as well, although some punches have more — or way less — impact than you’d imagine if watching a real fight.

Whether in Story mode or in a one-off fight, Fight Night Champion offers increased brutality. It’s not Mortal Kombat or anything, but cuts are damaging and you can definitely alter another guy’s face significantly if he isn’t working defense into his technique.

There’s also the typical Legacy mode if you want to create your own pugilist. The Fight Night series has always had the best character creator in gaming, and continues to do so here.

Fight Night 4 was a superb game, so EA needed to do something special to take the franchise up a level. The addition of a story-driven mode landed the knockout punch.

Knights Contract

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

Genre: Adventure; Publisher: Namco Bandai Games

ESRB Rating: M, for Mature

Grade: 2 stars

In just about any adventure video game you must forgo reality and accept the weirdness. When you are dealing with characters of ancient or futuristic times and magical powers are involved, you have to suspend disbelief and just roll with it.

Sometimes the execution is good, sometimes it’s bad and other times it’s downright bizarre.

Knights Contract is a decent game featuring two characters bent on revenge against unholy witches. You play primarily as Heinrich, who must protect the witch who cast a spell of immortality on him. Heinrich fends off gruesome attackers with a creatively designed hammer/scythe hybrid weapon and heavy doses of magic.

Yet the game is ruined when Heinrich unleashes a special attack; he turns into a beast that whips up on everyone and everything.

Meanwhile, Gretchen the witch has her own special attack, which is to be transported to an empty space where she’s now 1,000 times larger, glowing blue … and completely naked.

It makes absolutely no sense and is unnecessary to have her finish off foes by sitting on them or crushing them in her legs. The video-game industry accepts a high amount of sexism in its products, but this portion of the game is just flat-out stupid and gratuitous.

The ridiculous Knights Contract power attack offsets any nice cinematic cutscenes and good storytelling the game offers.

Follow Chris Campbell at twitter.com/campbler or e-mail him at game—on—games@mac.com.

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