HBO Boxing Preview
Boxing is a sport enjoyed by millions and is without a doubt the biggest "throw a bash" sport out there (maybe next to football). Though unlike football, in boxing about 70% of the attendants are rich fat cats with money shooting out of their Versachi pockets, meanwhile the middle class people watch the games on their 50" Sony TVs, with 10 other people, nachos, dip, beer, and sometimes women. Boxing has always been and will be that get together sport, legends such as Muhhamed Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard made the sport what it is today. Well with the fame and fortune that the sport produces, it would only be right to create boxing games based on the sport. Not until the debut of EA Sports' Knockout Kings was there ever a game that was as visually detailed and sophisticated as it was, though the game lacked some positive criticism, gamers were still pleased with it. The year after the sequel, Knockout Kings 2000 was released, this time the second was far more impressive than the first, both visually and gameplay-wise. The roster of boxers (now what you wear, mind you) was far greater than the first and included the legends as well as the current big men in boxing, on top of all that sales were very good. After the release of KOK 2000, HBO and Acclaim announce a partnership with each other that HBO will lend their name to develop Acclaim's boxing game, HBO Boxing. Acclaim recently sent us a previewable build of the game and here are my views on the game so far.
Well at the moment there are still graphical fixes needed and Osiris says that they will work on whatever needs to be done for the visuals. When the game closes up on a face, some of the boxers look like vampires because the teeth show through the mouth, but keep in mind that the game is only 80% complete, so there are graphical glitches to work on. The athletes are solid looking but they aren't dead on animations of their real-life counterparts, like the boxers in KOK 2000 were. The movement is smooth and doesn't suffer from any jerky animation, so the punches, jabs, and uppercuts look very nice. The crowds aren't very detailed and the inclusion of the referee takes away a little from the overall boxer detail. At the moment the visuals lack some final polish, need some glitches fixed, as well as a better compressed FMV intro.
There are tons of boxers, the whole list can be read in our previous preview of the game and there are numerous of modes. The modes range from Quick Start, Single Player, Season, Create a Pay-Per-View and more. Single Player is where you pick one of over 35 boxers and square of in one of over 10 rings. Boxing is a bit slow paced even when played with the lightweight boxers, so simulation fans may be a little turned off by that, but this is still an unfinished version of the game and the guys behind HBO Boxing might speed it up. Those who are looking for an arcade experience may want to give Ready to Rumble a shot or even Knockout Kings 2000, but HBO Boxing is definitely for the hardcore fan. The game takes some getting used to, the controls feel a bit unresponsive, and this version (or possible the final game) doesn't use the analog sticks which would really lower the final score for control. You can create your own boxer if you want to and then build him as being the best in the land. My verdict that HBO Boxing is currently a mediocre title, could change if Osiris fixes most of the flawed aspects in the game.