boxing game for the PC? Looking at the screenshots on the box I was
certain this was going to be what PC boxing fans were waitng for. Having
been deprived of Knockout Kings when EA Sports pulled the plug on their
PC varient, KO Boxing from Data Becker came just at the right time. Was
it any good? I couldn't wait to find out..
Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis? Sorry to disappoint you. I was treated to
a bunch of no-name boxers defending their no-name championships in no-name
locales. To compensate for this huge faux pas, Data Becker had promised
an 'ultra-realistic' boxing experience. Considering the circumstances,
that being the lack of boxing titles available on the market today, I was
willing to overlook this glaring mistake as long as the game delivered
on all other levels. Unfortunately for me, it did not.
Boxing launches with a menu screen in need of a makeover. A championship
belt, rotating in the middle of the screen, gives the gamer the opening
options. Among them is the ability to create a boxer. This is a nice feature
that needs to be expanded. You're very limited in creating your fighter.
After choosing a name and a birth country, you get to spread 205 points
among three boxing skills. Those three skill are Power Punch, Speed, and
Condition. Here's my first gripe with the game. Couldn't they have broken
Power Punch down into more skills; such as Jab, Uppercut, Hook, etc.? Apparently
not. If Power Punch, Speed, and Conditioning is all you need to win a fight,
you know this is going to be a shallow match. After selecting your boxer
from about a dozen different profiles, you're ready to start sparring.
to Data Becker for including a training option in the menu. With this option,
you'll be able to enter the ring against a sparring partner so you can
improve your boxing skills. The sub menu includes Sparring and Practice
options. On to my next complaint. What's the difference between Sparring
and Practicing? Personally, I know the difference, but I didn't see a difference
in the game. In both instances, it seemed as though I was just practicing,
because my opponent never threw a single punch. He just sat there taking
my punishing blows. The only difference I noticed is that when I was sparring,
my trainer/manager was yelling out punches that I should be throwing. Either
way, I would have liked a training mode where the boxer actually throws
a few punches back, allowing you to practice your defensive tactics. Enough
practicing though, let's get reeeeeeady to rumble!
time to start boxing. Options include a Single Fight, Championship, Arcade,
Two Player and Network. A Single Fight is self-explanatory. You face one
opponent and no matter whether you win or lose, you're brought back to
the main menu afterwards. It's basically the same as practicing, except
against an opponent who punches back. In other words, this option should
have been included in the 'Training' menu. The Arcade option leads to a
boxing match that is much quicker than the other modes. Offence is the
premium, defence comes second. The boxers go toe-to-toe to see who can
dish out the most punishment, or take it. The Championship mode is the
meat of the gameplay. You begin by fighting a very weak opponent and continue
to fight until you win enough to face the American Champion. Upon winning
that belt, you'll continue on fighting for more gold, including International
and World belts. The fights occur in five different locals including New
York, Las Vegas and Paris. The fighters become increasingly difficult as
you advance further along, but if you're having difficulty beating any
of the opponents, you an always change the difficulty setting. There are
three levels of difficulty ranging from Beginner to Champion.
gameplay is what knocks out KO Boxing. Moving around is simple enough,
but throwing a punch involves a combination of directional movement and
pressing a button. For example, if you press forward and hit the 'offence'
button, you'll throw a jab. There only seems to be three different punches
you can throw though. A hook, a roundhouse and a jab. There are three buttons
in total, one for offence, one for defence and one for combination. Controllers
nowadays have more than 3 buttons, and this game needs to take advantage
of that. It also needs to take advantage of punch location. Is there a
difference between throwing a body punch and a head punch in KO Boxing?
Personally, I couldn't tell where I was throwing the punches, not to mention
the punches were being thrown about 2 seconds after I initiated them. How
does one throw an uppercut without throwing a combination? Why isn't there
a button for each punch selection? How come there are only 3 different
defensive stances one can take? How come jabs are so weak? Although some
might argue otherwise, boxing is a sport of strategy and KO Boxing does
a horrible job of representing that. There's no strategy in KO Boxing at
all. Throw punches until you're tired, then defend until your strength
is built back up. Repeat this as many times as possible and call me in
are two bars at the bottom of the screen, one for endurance and one for
strength. When your endurance bar is down to zero, it means you're exhausted.
The result is the inability to throw any punches and the potential to actually
fall down from exhaustion. The strength bar represents your boxer's health.
Once this is down to zero, you've been knocked out. If your endurance and
strength are both down to nothing, you ain't getting up. Guess what? It
doesn't even seem to matter if your endurance is still high, as long as
you strength is down to zero, it's GAME OVER. Haven't these guys heard
of boxers getting up after getting knocked down?
Boxing uses a 3D-based engine entitled GX-Engine. That's right, it utilizes
your 3D accelerator card with fully rendered 3D environments and objects.
The boxers were far too blocky upon close examination. When the boxers
move around the ring, they do so realistically, bouncing and swaying from
side to side. However, once the punches start flying, all the realism is
thrown out the window. The punches are far too stiff looking, not to mention
there's so few punch choices. During the fight, there is no referee in
the ring, hence no complaints about him. The referee appears before the
fight, to give his usual speech about a 'fair fight', then disappears until
the end of the fight to raise the winner's hand. The environment is a mixed
bag. The ring is nicely represented, but the fans surrounding the ring
are absolutely horrendous. I've seen five year olds with better cardboard
cutting skills. A round of applause to Data Becker for including some damage
elements into the game. When you, or your opponent, take a beating, they'll
start to get black eyes and bruise damage on their face and body. Little
details like this are great, but the game itself needs to be polished well
before one can even consider these details.
sound... what sound? There's very little of it in KO Boxing. When you enter
the training mode, you will hear some speech from your trainer / manager
and when you're fighting in the ring against an opponent, the referee will
say a few words, but that's about it. Grunts and in-ring effects are there,
but none stand out. The sound department is in need of a serious overhaul,
including perhaps some commentary during the fight. The game does feature
Network and Two Player modes of multiplayer. Two Player mode involves two
players at the same terminal. Both modes are in working condition and both
offer the same gameplay as single player, which is extremely lacking.
give credit where credit is due. Data Becker has an engine here that looks
pretty good graphically. What they need to do now is focus on gameplay.
They need to grab those official licenses, they need to expand their punch
selection and include body selection when throwing punches. They need to
improve game control, include more strategy and create an overall boxing
experience. I'm unsure whether KO Boxing is going to become a yearly event,
but if it does I hope they'll address those issues for the next version.
If this is a one time offer, I'm afraid it doesn't make it past the first
round. KO Boxing is far from a knockout...