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Fight Night Champion takes bloody boxing to a whole new level

It’s not often that you get an M-rated sports title, but then boxing has hardly ever been a sport suitable for children. Pugilists may require control, timing, patience and dexterity, but at its very core boxing is a sport about violence; about beating your opponent into submission with efficient, devastating brutality.

Fight Night Champion pulls no punches (see what we did there?) when it comes to this aspect of the sport, with the latest entry into the series delivering the most realistic boxing experience yet. Punches aren’t just thrown, they’re launched, and when they make contact its with all the subtlety of a wrecking ball. Faces will crumple, noses will be broken, and yes, there will most certainly be blood.

Could EA be criticised for gratuitously exploiting the bloodier side of the sport, in the hopes of appealing to that animalistic side in all of us? The side that comes out when we achieve the bloodiest take downs in Manhunt, or beat a corpse with a baseball bat in GTA? Perhaps, but watch an actual boxing match – consider a contender’s face after the final bell has  rung – and you’ll know that boxing is inherently a gratuitous sport. It is all about that raw, animal side. About roaring at two men in a ring as they do their best to make each other unconscious. So from that point of view, EA is doing nothing but creating an accurate representation of the sport.

And yet considering matters from another angle, Fight Night Champion already looks far more violent than than EA’s brilliant but commercially unsuccessful fighter EA MMA, and MMA is a fundamentally more vicious sport than boxing.

It’s an interesting – and brave – choice then to make Fight Night Champion an M rated game and focus on the more mature end of the gaming spectrum. Perhaps EA truly believes that gamers have grown up, and there’s enough of a 17+ market to make the title a success. But it’s also interesting to consider the fact that EA feels the best way to appeal to gamers is to place such focus on the more visceral and bloody features of a sport which could also be just as much about artistry and movement. Perhaps even mature gamers aren’t that grown up after all.

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