Since Fight Night Round 3 boxing hasn’t been in the ring for a full fledged battle on the consoles, so its time we had something else to hit besides waving Wii-motes in the air. The illustrious Don King teams up with 2K Sports to presents their own boxing dynasty under the Kings notorious name. Will Prizefighter be the champion gamers have been wait for? or has Don King been a little too hasty in his gaming debut?
Developed by UK’s Venom Games, Don King Presents: Prizefighter feverishly brings another boxing game to anticipating hands of boxing gamers worldwide. It's been a while since Xbox 360 fans have had a run at new boxing game which means Prizefighters' main competition is obviously Fight Night Round 3. With two years to analyze the Electronic Arts boxing juggernaut, Prizefighter sure comes in ready for battle with a considerable amount of hype surrounding its debut. Like any competitor there will be a list of strengths and weaknesses and Prizefighter has its good and bad moments, but the real question is... how does it weigh in for the big picture? Don King picks a worthy competitor to represent, however in the first round in knees are shaky and eventually it will be put down for the ten count. Hard line after hard line, Don King’s Prizefighter doesn’t connect enough to take out the current champion of boxing games.
This marketed "in-depth" boxing experience comes up a little short in a number of ways. The main concern with Prizefighter is that the boxing doesn’t feel tight and the collision detection has its fair share of bugs. There is no auto-lock on feature which might throw you for a loop as the the robotic moving boxers try and juke around the canvas. Swinging can be wild and unpredictable at times when aiming for specific regions on your opponents body. Punching can also be served with a delay which in unacceptable when it’s matched with out of sync physics. Prizefighter lacks a good sense precision that hurts the gameplay, and that sums up the bad in a nutshell. However, before you pass judgement on this new boxer, give me a few moments to tell you about the rest of the game which isn't all that bad.
From Rocky to Realistic
In a positive light, the bad mechanics in the fighting forces the gamer to slow down their actions from Rocky to realistic boxing. This stops the crowding of punches and the feeling of uncontrolled madness. Slowing down the pace will help you feel the part and it will also help you land more real punches... if you are lucky. Finding a proper rhythm is important and something that was too easy in Fight Night, so in this respect Prizefighter gets it even if it’s not as “friendly” for the gamer to come out with the big knock out combos. This also flips over to showcase the agility attribute and how a quick boxer can get in a few more rounds then the knock down bruiser. Over all, trying to be more methodical will help you enjoy the game a little more, but its no excuse to pardon the Prizefighter from its weak in ring action.
Move on up! From Ghetto-to-Glory
Even with some spotty and questionable gameplay mechanics, Prizefighter has a solid career mode that follows an unknown boxer known as “The Kid”. Despite a few minor problems like only being able to access the career mode as a heavyweight and unexplained events during the storyline (broken hand??!), there is some fun to have here. The interface is cleverly done and since you are forced to create your own boxer, some personality comes into play. Venom Games takes the narrative from every boxing move from the old school to the newer hits to make a blending of great boxing stories over the years. The “ghetto-to-glory” theory works one more time in Prizefighter. Of course with the Don King name attached to the project, the storyline gets a little inflated to a mock documentary story that is original and works rather well injected into Prizefighter. Getting nostalgic Prizefighter even interjects a few Sepia tinted classic fights that shake things up during the story.
Sculpt those Abs
In between boxing matches you will have to train your boxer manually, or with the auto-train feature. Like Fight Night the benefit of manually training your boxer will give you better results then hitting the auto-train button. In total there are five different training actives to help sculpt your body, these include: heavy bag, shuttle run, focus mitts, speed bag and jumping rope. The attributes they boost is two out of the four which get divided into strength, stamina, agility and dexterity. Each activity is like a little mini-game that will have you matching button presses in the challenging jump rope training or sampling landing hard combos on the heavy bag. One great addition to practicing these events is that you will be entered into the worldwide leaderboards for each even which gives you a reference point in how well you are doing in the game. This also goes for a few of the extra modes which fully support the online leaderboards.
More than a Career
Besides the career mode you can also hook up in an obligatory versus mode, or the Tournament and Fighters Club mode, or simply head online for some multiplayer ring time. The Fighters Club is a point system square off where as the Tournament mode is your standard bracket knockdown event. Online is a mixed bag of tricks. The best thing about logging online and going a few rounds is that you will be facing a real opponent that has the same issues as you. The computer A.I. can seem a little too cheap at times, so playing online evens the playing field. Online you will actually have to work hard at getting a knock out from other gamer online especially if you’re up against an opponent with a high dexterity. This means online matches become a lot more intense and unpredictable then running through the games career mode. Of course the popularity of Prizefighter is on a constant decline which isn’t going to help you luck of finding new gamers online to box with.
Controlling your fighter is easily done with the punches mapped to the face buttons with the right trigger acting as the action to perform body shots. The left trigger lets you doge punches and the analog stick is used to throw up your block. This scheme is very functional and easy to learn, like any game the more time you spend with it the better you will learn and adapt. Adrenaline also plays a part in your ability to use selectable signature punches. This is built up by landing successful punches and blocking. The special punches that go from the normal to the unrealistic really help turn the tide of a fight, so hopefully you are the one throwing them out.
The Nitpicking Continues...
A few other minor nitpicks that Venom could have added to the gameplay is taking over the role of the in-game trainers like the cut-man. They also missed the point with not being able to taunt your opponent, a great way to get a fighter off his game, or made fights stop because of open cuts. Sometimes you have wonder what was the real focus of the development. Is Prizefighter a truly fished product? or a game rushed out to capitalize on a slow period in sports games.
Graphically Prizefighter is feels underdeveloped. This is apparent when a boxing game has clipping issues like punches going right through your opponent’s head. The lack of power is voided in Prizefighter too, visually there isn’t a difference between light and heavy punches which lacks in presentation values when stacked up against the bone crunching effects in Fight Night. The lack of detail and polish goes even further when you can’t even post your characters name on his entrance robe, or trunks. Little touches like a name or visible physical effects like showing fatigue can go a long way in making up for a lack of graphical horsepower in flashy graphics.
For positives the backgrounds and game environments look great. The 22 location from Boardwalk Hall to Madison Square Gardens seem alive and realistic in their background placement in the game world. Real life interviews that go along with the documentary style of Prizefighter are classic and are perfectly matched with the content. At times the lines can jump from horribly stench cheese to crackable jokes that are too outlandish to be real. Overall the film aspects in Prizefighter that include the Don add a nice touch that couldn’t be duplicated with any graphical engine.
The audio department also gets a shining star with its excellent choice in licensed tracks. The artists in Prizefighter include everything from Icarus Witch and Suicidal Tendencies to George Clinton, Run DMC, Stereo Black and Bootsy Collins who provides the Prizefighter theme track. In total Prizefighter boasts a staggering 72 songs that you can funk out with as you drowned out the lacklustre audio in the rest of the project which extends to the in-ring trainers and light impacting hits.
The most important factor of a boxing game is the in-ring action and this is where Prizefighter feels rushed and sloppy. The fighting mechanics is the worst part of the experience which is a shame when the presentation and storyline are fun and original. 40 real-life licensed boxers have been included in Prizefighter which gives some variety; it’s too bad you won’t fight all of them in the career since its limited to only Heavyweights. The career mode holds some entertainment value along with jumping online for a few matches, but Don King’s contender doesn’t have the same swagger as its number one opponent, Fight Night Round 3.
If you have been waiting for the next level in boxing, Prizefighter isn’t going to meet your expectations. I can’t recommend picking up Prizefighter unless you are a diehard boxing fan, or really-really love boxing games. Prizefighter is a rental at best and it is unfortunate. I had high hopes for the King and 2K, but it looks like I’ll have to wait until next season when they can hopefully improve upon this release with Prizefighter Round 2.
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 06.09.08
The boxing lifestyle: A full career mode offers a comprehensive story line that follows you through real-life boxing situations such as injuries, resisting temptations, facing stacked odds against a corrupt judge, and more. These dramatic moments are told in a sports documentary style using the voices and images of world famous boxers and celebrities from the boxing world.
Best in the ring and in the booth: Don King Presents: Prizefighter offers up a roster of approximately 80 boxers, along with 30 licensed, active professional boxers and 10 classic, legends of the ring. Classics include Larry Holmes, Ken Norton, and even the Cinderella Man himself, James Braddock. The play-by-play and color commentary are provided by none other than HBO Boxing broadcasters Emmanuel Stewart and Jim Lampley.
Exciting boxing venues: Don King Presents: Prizefighter features more than 20 fight gyms and venues including Madison Square Garden, Trump Taj Mahal, Boardwalk Hall, and many others.
Training through mini-games: Through a variety of fun and exciting mini-games, train and increase your skill level by participating in different rhythm-based modes including jump rump, heavy bag, focus mitts, speed bag, and shuttle run.
The virtual gym: This unique online mode lets you form and compete in virtual gyms of friends or any available competitor. Choose from any of the legendary or active champions in Prizefighter, or use up to eight of your own customized boxers in this feature.