* Best Sports Game of 2011

With a new name and corresponding mode, Fight Night returns under the marquee of Champion to show all the octagon fighters what a brawling is all about.

The word "champion" defines this edition of 'Fight Night.' Not only by name, "Champion" is a new story mode that has made a stagnant product feel fresh. For the first time, you will be able to be a part of something bigger than user-created match-ups and dream fights. EA Canada proudly shows this off by throwing you right into the "champion" mix when you fire up the game. The question they present, do you want to leave the mode, or continue down the "hollywood-drama" path of blood, sweat, and redemption? Of course you can re-renter this mode at anytime, but I think most of us will be drawn in, and like me, wanting to explore this new world right away. Really, who doesn't love boxing for both the sport and the "Hollywood" perception we've all grown up with? The idea behind "Champion" is a winner, even if you only explore this avenue once.

Now that I have your interest, the "Champion" story follows Andre Bishop, a middleweight who moves up the amateur ranks, establishing a rivalry with another promoter along the way. The other promoter, McQueen, wants to take Bishop under his wing. However, Bishop, loyal to his current trainer/father-figure Gus, declines McQueen's offer, and this when the drama begins. An angered McQueen then hires a couple of thugs to take Bishop out of the game and they succeed. Behind bars, framed for assault, you still follow Bishop as he mops up some prison scum in their local ring. These "no rules" fights are some of the highlights of 'Champion,' but before long you will be walking out the penitentiary to rebuild your life. Bishop finds himself back, surrounded by the ring life by helping his brother, who is also in the boxing game. This sets up a scenario for Andre to make a comeback. However, this time Bishop pushes up to the heavyweights, seeking the champ, Isaac Frost, McQueen's main fighter. Notwithstanding, the jealousy of his younger brother. No one ever said winning is easy.

EA has done an excellent job presenting and weaving Andre Bishop's story so its has all the drama of a “Hollywood-inspired” flick. Where they are going might be obvious to most, things are switched up from fight-to-fight with some crafty objective based fights. For example you'll need to fight a power puncher with a cut under your eye, protecting it from a number of hits, or even worse, fighting with a broken hand while looking for a knockout. These match specific objectives really create some special tense moments that bring out tight controls. This story mode really makes 'Champion' a champion.


Aside from the drama of the 'Champion mode.' you will spend the other half of your time in the highly addictive 'Legacy Mode.' This mode is pretty much the same as prior 'Fight Night' titles. Create a fighter, or make use of the licensed fighters and work your way through the ranks. The major change in this aspect is a new point system that lets you distribute points across your fighters skill-set (punches) to customize each fighter. Since the “specialty” punch has been removed, there are several upgrades that makes each fighter feel more diverse. Training is still a questionable exercise that you'll either love or hate. These can also be accessed from the menu if you're up for the punishment. Additionally, the boxers you create for the Legacy mode, or simply to fight with can be shared via the 'Boxer Share' option. Here you can create, edit, or download boxers.

Another nice advancement for in the 'Legacy mode' is the inclusion of mini-challenges attached to each fight. These vary, but mainly give the player a bonus in points for knocking your opponent out by a select round, or not taking too much damage. It's a little addition that actually helps you play the game differently by giving you something else to focus on besides the big KO or a one-timed flash knockout.

Aside from the loss of your special "trademark" punch, other adjustments have been made to make 'Fight Night' easier by abridging the analog controls. The main culprit, half-circle rotations have been removed and now you can throw your hooks, jabs and uppercuts with a simple flick. This removes the above average learning curve making 'Fight Night' more accessible to the casual gamer. Although the loss of the rotation some of the punches feel less satisfying.

'Fight Night' still keeps the punch count up high; this is a slugger, even if it wants to seem like a sim-boxer. It's just too easy to burn through the punches, which isn't bad in one regard. However, like the controls the gamers who are yearning for a more simulated feel will really need to bump up the difficulty. Although the higher in difficulty you go, the more it feels like you're being cheated by a loaded glove. Still, strategy is important, but precision and counter-punching is still king. Depending on your challenger, fighting online is a whole new beast. One that will quickly test your patience for the game. Spending time in the higher difficulties will prepare you best for real competition.


The online component can be competed (unranked and ranked) via the matchmaking system. In my test it seemed to be a good judge, even if I didn't win any bouts. For custom fights, online gyms provide the guild feel, a great idea if you have friends into online boxing. Having gyms fighters competing for the online belts in the 'Online World Championship' mode is a brilliant idea that seems to be poised to keep gamers interested in the fight, long after the buzz has lifted. The main issue with the game is lag, like the offline portion ironically. However, its not too bad overall, but it kind of sucks getting a DNF (did not finish) added to your record for not wanting to deal with laggy interruptions.

In the graphics department 'Champion' is a beast. The character models look excellent with a great deal of detail, maybe the best we've seen on the human form. Although, 'Fight Night' looks picture perfect in its stills, some snags like framerate slowdown and loading stutters in the gameplay. In a fighting game of any nature, this is a pretty negative point, although it doesn't break the game, it can be frustrating depending on the in-ring situation. Secondly, the referee often blocks the action when you get tangled up in the middle of the ring. This can cause a loss of viability for a split second, and as you know, every second counts.


The champion of 'Fight Night Champion' is 'Andre Bishop,' whose story provides a new angel for fans to dig into. Although Bishop's tale isn't the only contributing factor to its success; the solid mechanics, addictive Legacy mode, and top-notch graphics also deserve a round of applause. The only big negative is the slight graphical stutter that unfortunately happens during fights, something some fighting fans might not be able to overlook. If you don't mind the occasional visual hiccup, 'Fight Night Champion' will please any gamer who loves a good sparring session between fists.

  • championship story mode is the perfect addition
  • great physics/damage system
  • analog controls made easier
  • new point system adapted for the legacy mode
  • legacy mode, still as addictive as ever
  • framerate slowdown, freezing during gameplay
  • ref often walks in front of the fighters (default setting)
  • the legacy mode is fun, but it could be spiced up more
  • more streamlined controls might not please everyone
Quote: "If you don't mind the occasional visual hiccup, 'Fight Night Champion' will please any gamer who loves a good sparring session between fists."
Reviewed by DowntownJimmy | 03.18.11

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Fight Night Champion

EA Sports

EA Canada


US Release
March 2011


PS3, X360

Players 1-2
Online MP 2
HD 720p-1080p
5.1 surround
Custom Soundtrk
D/L Content