HBO Boxing Review
With the load of boxing games consoles have been getting recently, the boxing genre is becoming almost as crowded as the racing genre, or even the fighting genre. We all know that it started with the original boxing game Punch-Out for Nintendo, and as time progressed and so did technology companies like EA Sports decided that now was the time to start creating three dimensional boxing games and expand on the genre. Of course Knockout Kings was the first true boxing game to feature many different real life boxers, it also included some of incredibly realistic visuals and decent gameplay, but there were critics who disliked the game for a few reasons, which I will not get into. The following Knockout Kings game improved visually and the gameplay was something new, the roster of boxers had grown and the amount of modes had increased as well, overall Knockout Kings 2000 was a brand new game with tighter gameplay. EA Sports intends on continuing their boxing franchise on the PS2, but with veterans we always have rookies who want in on the fun, and Acclaim Sports is the perfect example of this statement with their HBO Boxing game. What could have been a smart, deep title turned out to be a grim, shabby and horribly ugly looking boxing game, even by first generation standards, read the full review.
Ugh, this is horrendous, what happened here, first of all let me address the very poor and low-res body detail. The boxers look nothing like their real life counterparts, and that is a shame, because compared to a game of Knockout Kings' caliber, HBO Boxing's graphics are buried so deep that they damn near reach China. The models are very grainy, the faces are decent to say the least, but everything else is just repulsive, Acclaim could have done a better job, not even PS2's graphical enhancements can do this game any good. Take a boxer like George Foreman, he is big fella', with somewhat tight looking eyes, a round face and overall he is a bit of a husky guy. HBO Boxing isn't successful at making him look real since his face looks as if he was run over by a tank, what's up with that? You'd think by decreasing background detail, the developers would be able to include a few more polygons into the boxers to give them a more cleaner look, but it really doesn't look like Acclaim cared enough to do that.
HBO Boxing features a huge roster of boxers to choose from, from Roy Jones Jr. to George Foreman to Sugar Ray Robinson, there are well over 30 boxers, but who cares! With all of the big numbers that have been thrown around, Acclaim never exactly tell us how incredibly wrecked the action is, I think my granny can throw a punch faster than the game's boxers do, and I know sure as hell that she can react just as quick too. I won't get into the controller response just yet, but I've got other things to tell you. First of all if the slow as a turtle gameplay entices you then go ahead and spend the worst $40 of your life for this terribly laggy piece of s..... software. I'll get a bit more serious and will try to keep my emotions down a notch or two. But the game's biggest fault is really it's horribly slow action, unlike Knockout Kings 2000 or 2001, both games that featured an arcade like approach to the gameplay, and yet still delivered the sim-feel successfully, HBO Boxing's slow and unresponsive control hurt the game to such a great extent that it is entirely what makes this game as disappointing as it is. The game also features a wide variety of modes such as Quickbout, Single Bout, Career, Training Camp, Hall of Fame, and a mode where you can create your own Pay-Per-View for up to eight bouts. HBO Boxing may have the HBO license behind it, but the game still fails to rank as a merely average game, and in the end turns out as a disappointment.
It is surprising to see the sound as bad and laggy as it is. The commentary sounds okay with the help of real HBO commentators such as Jim Lampley, Larry Merchant, and Harold Lederman, but these three big names once again do nothing to the game's overall shabby experience, and FYI the commentary is nothing to be happy about, it is off target, the announcers pause mysteriously almost as if a gun was being pointed to their heads, and then they would finish their sentence, that becomes quickly annoying after a while. The punches also don't sound very realistic, and I'm still trying to figure out why Acclaim trying to make the soundtrack sound good by printing "Music from Roy Jones Jr" as a feature when in fact it is un-questionably the stupidest thing to write on the back of a game cover, yuck! The graphics and audio are almost as bad as what the audio & visual club did back in Junior High.
Well here it is, the one feature that claims about half of the games potential. The control is incredibly slow and un-responsive, so you will have to rely on well timed hits, who ever heard of well timed button hits in a boxing game, by the time the game responds to your action, the opponent has mercilessly assaulted you with three to four brutal punches. It is either me or the game, but it seems to me that the Dual Shock function is not present, and the analog feature is not there either, what gives? Controls are absolutely horrendous and that is that!
HBO Boxing started out as a decent looking and playing project, but the game did not with hold the test of time, and ultimately succumbed to choppy animations, lacking overall graphics, some of the slowest, if not the slowest boxing action in a videogame to date, incredibly bad audio, and some of the worst and most un-responsive controls to be found since Dragon Ball-Z Final Bout GT. Steer clear from this horrible boxing sim, if you are looking for a great boxing, you must go and pick up Knockout Kings 2001, it is by far the best boxing game to be released on the market, or if you have a PS2, then I suggest waiting for the PS2 incarnation of KOK2001, just please watch out for HBO Boxing.