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Title Fight 2001 for the PC
Decent Career Mode
Too Difficult
Lack of Atmosphere

It's been over a decade since Mike Tyson's name graced the title of a videogame. Mike Tyson Boxing has come a long way since Mike Tyson's Punch-Out in the late '80s. It has innovative gameplay, but did it in other areas in other areas. 

Upon starting up the game, I learned that a saved game took up 3 slots on my memory card. After that brief annoyance, I selected the Practice mode. Here you can spar with an opponent exhibiting one of three fighting styles: defensive, offensive, or neutral. I chose offensive. Seconds later, I was getting beat down like nobody's business. 

Next I tried Showcase mode, involving four matches in an elimination setup. Initially there were eight characters available, each with personal histories that I found stereotypical. For example, Rab McCabe from Scotland wears plaid shorts and is called a "highlander." I'm sure the designers didn't intend to offend, but if they wanted to be funny they should have gone all out and chosen exaggerated personalities like the boxers in Ready 2 Rumble. I ended up choosing Rhy Yung, who "ducks and weaves with discipline." 

The artificial intelligence (AI) in Showcase mode was extremely poor; the fighters acted like walking punching bags. But when I made it to the second-to-last round, I found myself against Mike Tyson. At first he seemed weak because he just stood there while I let out punches. But at round three I realized his Power Meter was nearly full, because it charged every time he successfully dodged an attack. It was then that I saw the logic behind the gameplay. 

Dodging is brought to the forefront of the game. Unlike most fighting games, where you block to absorb a hit, in Mike Tyson Boxing you dodge to unleash a counterattack. Most important, for every punch you dodge you're rewarded with more power in your Power Meter. As I was playing furiously against the computer, dodging attacks left and right, the screen went into slow motion. I was charged up and had unleashed a Special Punch in slow motion that popped my opponent in the head. That was great, because I didn't do it accidentally or out of pure luck. I let it out with perfect timing. This sets the game apart from button-bashing games like Ready 2 Rumble, or combo-crunching games like Knockout Kings. Dodging is possible because you can actually see a punch coming. This is especially true when you charge an attack, which is done by holding down an attack button for longer than normal. The drawback, of course, is that you're letting your guard down. Also, different punches, such as an uppercut or a straight punch, have varying degrees of distance and speed. 

VS [versus] mode was a single bout between two boxers, or three to six players in an elimination tournament. I could modify the location, number of rounds, round length, and, when playing the CPU, difficulty. I could also equalize the characters when playing with a friend. 

Career mode was better. You have your own stable of fighters which you train and manage. Fights are made with computer controlled opponents, who also fight between themselves adding a less linear feel to the game. 

The graphics were average. The characters looked a bit polygonal, but the textures were detailed. I could make out muscles and distinct faces. The crowds in the background were pretty lame. They looked like those cardboard cutouts of famous people that you get your picture taken with. Different punches were animated clearly. Although the frame rate was low, I could easily tell a hook from an uppercut. 

The sound was also average. The only voice in the game was from the announcer, when he introduced the boxers. When playing there was only crowd noise in the background, which stayed at the same level until the end of the match, when it increased. Unlike Knockout Kings, there was no commentary at all. One nice effect occurred during a charged attack: the sound of impact became louder and higher pitched. During the menus, the jungle music was kickin'. DJ Rocs, of England, created the intro music. 

In summary, Mike Tyson Boxing isn't a bad game, but it's not a great game either. The graphics and sound are average compared with other boxing games on the PlayStation. Its gameplay is definitely worth experiencing because it feels original. You'll get the most out of this game if you play it with a group of friends...


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