Knockout Kings 2002 Xbox
Review by Matt Paprocki EA Sports Fighting
Graphics: 9 Sound: 8 Gameplay: 8.5 Overall: 8.5

The past few years have done wonders for EA's boxing franchise. The inaugural edition on the PS One was a highly detailed, slow moving sim, great for the die hard boxing fans, bad for those not familiar with the ring. The sequel took a more arcade-y approach to the gameplay and the fun factor shot through the roof. This years edition is nothing more than a non-stop slugfest with minor sim elements, but it's a blast to play.

The roster of the game will satisfy most fans, but the lack of HUGE names like Tyson may disappoint. The create-a-fighter mode is limited, so creating these pugilists can prove to be difficult. Taking on a career will let players take on tons of famous fighters from times long gone, and few new guys that EA thought up in some back room. Some of the new characters look like they've been ripped right out of Midway's Ready 2 Rumble, an odd choice due the other fighters uncanny realism. The training mode has been tossed to the floor for this edition and now you simply gain points after a winning bout. While most of these mini-training games were basically button mashers, their inclusion did extend the gameplay. The standard 2-player mode and single player exhibition matches are of course included.

The control scheme can take some getting used to once in the ring, but most players will find it flawless once they have it down. Slightly moving the analog stick will cause your boxer to bob and weave, while pushing it all the way will make them maneuver around the ring. Blocking can be a chore at times since simply holding the button is no longer allowed. For each punch you opponent throws, the block button must be pressed. Since there are no energy bars present, players have to rely on the X-box's controller which simulates your fighters heartbeat. The faster it goes, the closer you are to eating canvas. Definitely cool.

When sweat literally pours from your fighters body by the third round, you know your looking at something special. Lights reflect off of your boxer's drenched body, making them look almost plastic at times, but otherwise this effect is taken as an awesome achievement. The fighters are PACKED with polygons, bump-mapping, and other graphical effects, giving them a hyper-real look. Cuts, blood and bruises caused by the constant pounding let you know when the towel should be tossed in or when your opponent is on his last few punches. There are a few oddities to the games graphical package. The ref is nowhere to found in the ring during the actual fighting, and the camera can cause extreme frustration at times. The crowd, as usual, looks sad....real sad. Otherwise, the game does look stunning and shows off what the $300 box can do.

Knockout Kings' rap soundtrack fits the bill and always has. It simply wouldn't be the same without it. EA has recorded all new tracks to keep fans of the series happy. The sounds of the punches can't be missed due to the excessive bass they put out and your corner men stay on top of you for the entire bout. Crowd taunts can also be heard in the background. The commentary is solid, but not enough of it was recorded. The constant repetition makes this area a huge disappointment, but the rest of the sounds make up for it.

While purists may not like the slugfest style of gameplay, casual fans will love it. Throwing 600 punches in 5 rounds may not be realistic, but it sure as hell is fun. Busting up Butterbean with a right cross 3 times in a row and making him bleed is worth the price of admission alone. The final verdict on this one is simple: If you liked last years game but wanted a massively overhauled graphics engine, more punches, more fighters, and better sounds for this year, EA has done you well. Didn't like last years game? Then you won't like this one either.


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Last updated: Sunday, April 22, 2007 08:37 PM