Fight Night Champion

Fight Night Champion Review for Xbox 360

On: Xbox 360PS3

Breaking the boxing mold.

Review Verdict Read Review
7Out of 10
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Fight Night Champion screenshot
Fight Night Champion screenshot

Everybody loves an underdog. Society is enraptured by these heroes, with their diligent struggles, unwavering perseverance and faultless commitment to success; these David and Goliath stories have been kept within easy grabbing distance of our storytellers for thousands of years now, and contemporary creations like the peppy, zeitgeist-riding phenomenon Glee remind us there's no chance of these little guy tales subsiding anytime soon.

In 1977, underdog movie extraordinaire Rocky won three Oscars: Best Director; Best Film, for which it was up against Taxi Driver - seriously, Taxi Driver; and Best Film Editing. The movie was nominated in seven other categories, including a Best Actor nod for Sylvester Stallone, and has remained in contemporary pop culture for over three decades despite a glut of largely inferior sequels. It has an incredible training montage.

Fight Night Champion, bafflingly, does not. For what is an almost shameless riff on the same notes which made Rocky so successful, it is bizarre that the game's headlining Champion mode opts to go without the quintessential moment of hitting the gym and then running up the steps and then "Rocky! Rocky! Rocky!" and so forth.

Judged as a narrative, told through a procession of ham-fisted cutscenes, Fight Night Champion is about as delicate as being hit in the face by Tyson. All of your favourite clichés make an expected appearance. Tick them off the boxing movie register as you go along: the up-and-coming amateur hero who believes in truth, justice and a good face-smashing; his unremittingly evil rival; a carbon copy of steadfast trainer Mickey Goldmill who never gives up; the villainous tycoon promoter who uses the sport for evil; the wayward brother; the father who never quite made it; and the virtuous love interest.

Andre Bishop is your lead man, rising up the ranks of the amateur league and on the cusp of turning pro. Wedged in the middle of cutscenes where Bishop's resolve never wavers are the boxing matches, most of which take on the form of themed brawls where you're either not allowed to perform a particular move, such as body blows, or where you're encouraged to focus on a particular attack. Long-term fans of boxing games will notice how it's like the distilled essence of Punch-Out!! has been squeezed through a blood-stained canvas.

A brief jaunt in the middle of the game has you thrown in prison for seven years - because the game is dark and gritty now, and this is conveniently the best way to show off the new blood effects - where you engage in a few rounds of bare-knuckle boxing against some Aryan bruisers, and then it's back out to walk the long path to redemption and a whopping great title belt. Despite it only taking about twenty minutes in real life terms, you know Andre's been in prison for a while because he puts on 60lbs of muscle and grows a beard.

While Champion mode is the game's headline feature, there's simply not that much substance in it. The campaign barely pushes two hours of fights, although you probably spend a fair chunk of additional time watching its cutscenes. The mode functions as a rather brief distraction, although beginners will find the disguised bits of advice helpful to understanding some of the finer aspects of the game.

Series veterans will probably skip straight to the other modes, though not until they've weighed in on the undying buttons-versus-sticks debate. After their notable absence at Fight Night Round 4's launch, button controls sheepishly find themselves returning to the mix by default, though EA still clearly favours the analogue-stick batterings dished out by their spangly new analogue input method - dubbed Full Spectrum Punch Control by the suits in marketing.

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User Comments

clangod's Avatar


Sugar Diabetes lol :)

Sorry about earlier Dev. I'm not sure whether you had signed in again after the football but I ended up falling asleep on the couch. The missus woke me up with a look I can only describe as 'disapproving'.

Some other time eh...

It's been a mixed bag with online for me to. We seemed to do okay on the demo, hopefully the lag doesn't render any bout we have unplayable.

Until then...
Posted 04:39 on 13 March 2011
El-Dev's Avatar


Finished the Champion mode today, pretty enjoyable even with the obvious flaws in a couple of fights. It's a great tutorial for the whole game as well. Teaches you the way to combat each type of fighter and how to use the punches instead of swinging wildly. Really good addition to the previous game.

Had a few online bouts this evening as well and there was no lag issues at all which plagued my first online fight.

Overall I think Martin's 7 is pretty harsh.

If I was a boxer I'd call myself Sugar Diabetes.
Posted 21:53 on 12 March 2011
clangod's Avatar


My first impressions with Champion are none but positive. It's great how the Champion mode throws you straight in the ring and allows you to play through if you like. Well presented. Fun to play. And the bare knuckle fights are great. I'd like to find out you can bare knuckle brawl online.

I got well into Champion mode
Show Spoiler Second fight after getting out of prison
only to be invited to an online game by my cousin. Couldn't join his game and upon opting to continue Champion mode I found that my game hadn't saved. AAAAGHHH!!! I created a profile and all that but alas, now I have had to start again. At least I get to take on the Arayan Brotherhood again. There was something sweetly satisfying about playing an African American belting the lights out of the Arayans. Got through 'em all first go and by K.O as well. Loving the prison fights...

Finally managed to get online with my cousin and he mopped the floor with me 3 out of 3 fights. Then, joining his gym I took on some random from god only knows where and got promptly haymakered in the 3rd round. Need to build the old stats up quickly if I'm to contest the average fight.

In the fight against the random, lag was ever present. Seems they haven't quite managed it yet however all fights against my cousin were lag free.

looking forward to getting on with Champion mode and building my boxer stats to be better prepared for online. I hope they can sort out the lag issues and online menus/ friends/ lobby support in an upcoming patch.
Posted 08:46 on 07 March 2011
dudester's Avatar


Its been ages since I liked the controls in a fight night game the demo was the same for this :(
Posted 11:31 on 05 March 2011
El-Dev's Avatar


I always dread it when a game places you in prison, it generally means some rubbish fights will follow. How come I can knock the Aryan down five times and he gets back up and is fine, yet my character is busted and gets knocked down once and is pretty much done for?

It's really good apart from that though!
Posted 18:15 on 04 March 2011
VSG413's Avatar


This game has immproved controls a story an online gym mode that I can't wait for and you give it a 7.
Posted 01:31 on 01 March 2011
clangod's Avatar

clangod@ squidman

I thought you made a living from the words you write, not the number you associate with them...

Anyway, my comment was in response to the post before mine. Seems he was too heavily dependant on the score compared to Round 4's. I don't want to re-open the whole review score - does it matter debate but for the record I personally pay very little attention to the number at the end of your (or anyone else's) reviews. I choose to extract the necessary information from the guts of it and guage my thoughts based on your comments.

Good read by the way. Whether I agree or not.
Posted 13:30 on 24 February 2011
squidman's Avatar


If numbers at the end of reviews meant nothing I'd have an exceedingly difficult time paying my rent and stuffing food in my greedy face.
Posted 10:55 on 24 February 2011
clangod's Avatar


A number at the end of a review means nothing. Fight Night is about boxing. Plain and simple. If players want to get hung up on some half arsed story line let them be. It's still just boxing.

Besides, not like there is any competition...

Fight Night Champion is a winner in my books.
Posted 10:42 on 24 February 2011
ohreally's Avatar


Fight Night 4 received a 9/10. Fight Night Champion adds new features, controls, story mode and receives a 7/10 because it doesn't have enough meat on its bones?

Makes sense.
Posted 04:34 on 24 February 2011
El-Dev's Avatar


So it has 2 control set ups and a story mode...great.

Have this pre-ordered as the previous game was great and I was pretty impressed by the demo.
Posted 18:23 on 23 February 2011
enviro-bear's Avatar


Oh Martin, lowest score on metacritic. Someone likes to be a bit controversial all of a sudden ;)
Posted 16:35 on 23 February 2011

Game Stats

Technical Specs
Fight Night Champion
Out of 10
Fight Night Champion
  • Champion mode is entertaining fluff.
  • Fight Night still looks incredible.
  • Ignores series' existing problems.
  • Champion mode is very short.
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 04/03/2011
Platforms: Xbox 360 , PS3
Developer: EA Canada
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: Sports
No. Players: 1-2
Rating: PEGI 16+
Site Rank: 14,708 123
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