Fight Night Champion is not an easy game to review - because it's a game that's going to cause a bit of a split amongst the franchise's fans.
If you've played the demo, you'll probably have some idea about which corner you're going to be standing in come the final bell.
The main point of controversy is the switch from Total Punch Control to Full Spectrum Punch Control. Where, in the past, TPC was based on movements of the right analogue stick - which mirrored the real life swings and jabs of your on-screen boxer - FSPC utilises flicks alone.
Think of it as a clock face: Flicks to the left and right, either side of 12 o'clock work your jabs, 3 and 9 o'clock are mapped to hooks and either side of 6 o'clock triggers the always desirable uppercut. What's important about this new system though is that every other point on the spectrum triggers a slight variation of the six stock punches and they're driven in at the angle of the stick.
A flick to 10, for example, will trigger a left hook with more of a downward angle, coming in over the top. Flick to 4 and you'll have a right uppercut with a more diagonal trajectory targeting the lower side of the torso or jaw.
EA Sports has implemented this system firstly because it felt that some of the punches were a bit awkward with the TPC system: Punching is now quicker, more fluid and it's easier to put together combos.
Secondly - and most importantly in our eyes - it allows for a much wider range of shots. Because you can throw shots at pretty much any angle you can now look for the gaps in an opponent's guard and actually aim for them rather than just going for the left side of the head because he's guarding the right. Is that pansy blocking shots from the left and right? Why not throw one over the top? Try and hit the soft spot.
LIKE A GLOVE
Speaking of putting up a guard; while dodging punches is done in very much the same way as previous Fight Night titles, blocking punches has been simplified. Kind of.
Now, by holding the right trigger, your boxer will guard and automatically adjust to where the shots are raining in from. If you're taking combos, though, some of them will land and your guard will eventually be broken down.
A much better defence is to tap the right trigger as a punch approaches to parry the attack and open up your opponent for a counter-punch - although counter-punches are much easier to pull off by evading a strike with a lean using the usual LT and left stick combo.
While some will say that the blocking mechanism takes control out of the player's hands, it's far from a fist-proof shield and we actually prefer having some guard duties a bit more automated. It's always been a frustratingly difficult aspect of the game and nowhere near as cool or satisfying as the ducking, weaving and smacking elements. That's right, we subscribe to Ali's hands by your side, float like a butterfly school of pain.
So punching is quicker, blocking is simple, both are certainly easier to pick-up but harder to master, but Champion won't let you just run in flailing.
Stamina plays a bigger part than ever this time and it will wear down pretty quickly across the duration of ten rounds if you don't conserve energy, making you slower and more prone to getting rocked should your opponent catch you with a good shot.
This aspect of Champion seems a bit inconsistent though. We've had matches where we've done nothing but throw punches for four rounds and others where our man in shorts is pooped after a couple of rounds of flailing - how it should be. You might put it down to a boxer's stats but in that case some fighters have a bit too much energy for our liking. Someone should order some random drug tests.