Real Boxing Review (PS Vita): “Real Boring”

Real Boxing Wallpaper

The PlayStation Vita has been graced with many fighting games over the course of its lifecycle. However, the one type of fighting/sports game that hasn’t hit the platform is a boxing game. Developer Vivid Games has taken up the task of bringing the very first boxing game to the Vita titled “Real Boxing”. Is the game a knockout or has it been TKO’d in the first round?

We’ve seen some pretty stellar boxing titles from Nintendo’s iconic Punch-Out!! series to EA’s successful Fight Night series. Punch-Out!! brought about a level of memorization and strategy in fights against zany characters that few games can even replicate, while Fight Night brought out a more realistic fight for boxing fans to relate to. With Real Boxing, boxing fans will get a mixture of an arcade-like experience with a realistic approach. When starting off the game, you’ll create the boxer of your choice. You’ll be able to choose the nationality your boxer represents, the pants color, gloves color, shoes color, tattoo on your back, chest and shoulders, the hair, mustache and lastly, beard. Each field has a decent amount of choices to choose between, but the main problem is you can’t alter the actual fighter’s face. No matter how much you customize your character, they will all look incredibly similar, making it seem like you’re fighting clones with variations. After creating and naming your boxer, you’ll be able to either take on the following: Quick Match, Career, Gym, or Multiplayer.

Real Boxing Gameplay 1

Quick Match is what you’d expect, just choose your opponent and dive straight into a match. However, Career is the game’s main event. There are three events to tackle: Roosters’ Tournament, Night of the Champions, and Boxing Legends. Each event contains 9 fights, with each fight progressively ramping up in difficulty as you’ll notice your opponent’s stats exceeding yours. When the match starts, you’ll watch your fighter’s intro before entering the ring. Once in there, the camera will be over-the-shoulder, but more on an angle than directly behind you (i.e. Punch-Out!!). There are several ways to control your punches in this game. The first is the standard face buttons. If you want more precision, you’ll use the right analog stick, which allows you to throw right punches with the right half of the stick, while throwing left punches with the left half of the stick. You’ll be able to throw jabs, hooks and uppercuts fairly easy and combo between your arms quicker. The third method is full touch control, which works very well. You’ll tap the screen for jabs (left half for left arm, right half for right arm), swipe across the screen for hooks and swipe upwards for uppercuts. You’ll tap and hold the bottom left icon to block, while tapping the bottom right icon to dodge attacks. More interestingly, the movement is controlled automatically when playing with touch controls. Unlike Fight Night, you and your opponent will have health bars to deplete, but like any boxing game, you have a stamina meter to keep an eye on. You can’t keep swinging away at your opponent and expect to not get tired out, so learning how to pace yourself is key. One of the more satisfying elements is the dodging mechanic. When you dodge a hit at the right time, the game will go into slow-motion, giving you an opportunity to dish out some heavy damage with a counterattack. If you or your opponent gets low on health, you’ll be able to enter a Clinch. This will require you to balance your Vita back and forth and maintain balance within the ever shrinking green meter. If your opponent clinches with you and you lose the clinch, they’ll gain some health back and vice versa if you initiate and win. The problem with this though is the sensitivity for tilting the Vita is incredibly high and makes this mini-game a serious chore and often frustration when initiated. The mechanics are all functional but playing against the AI rarely gets you engaged. Multiplayer fares a bit better though, which can be accessed both online or locally. You can choose between Single Fight and Tournament, and allows for you to invite a friend to match up against. There’s Leaderboard support as well. When playing online, I can say that the lag wasn’t too apparent and playing against an online opponent definitely makes for a more exciting experience.

That shoulder animates very oddly.

That shoulder animates very oddly.

Gym will allow you to train your fighter and upgrade his stats. You can upgrade the Strength, Stamina, and Speed attributes with the money you’ll earn from fights. Each category will start at 60% and as you upgrade, will cost more money to increase each attribute. Additionally, you can practice with four events: Heavy Bag Training, Jump Rope Training, Speed Bag Training, and traditional sparring. The purpose of these training events are to build up your perk meter so that you can unlock a new perk to attach to your fighter. You can choose from perks that allow you to drain less stamina from jabs or uppercuts, successfully winning a Clinch mini-game easier, getting up faster from a K.O., etc. The training mini-games all play a bit different. Heavy Bag and Speed Bag training will have you slapping the right analog stick in a specific direction at the right time. Successfully hitting it will build up your perk unlock meter and the better you time it (Perfect, Great, or Good ratings), the quicker the meter will fill. Jump Rope will have you pressing the L and R buttons at the proper time, with basically the same premise as the other two training sessions. These are decent mini-games to pass time for earning perks but there are a few issues. First off, you can only do a training session once until you complete an actual career event. Secondly, the Heavy Bag and Speed Bag training require you to push the right analog stick diagonally quite often…and it registers quite inaccurately. There were several times where I’d push the analog diagonally in the same direction twice in a row and it’d register one of them perfectly, while the other not at all. For the record, my Vita is in perfect condition and works flawlessly with any other game that uses the right analog stick, so I know this is a mechanical issue in the game.

Not only is she super anorexic...she bit part of her wrist off as a meal.

Not only is she super anorexic…she bit part of her wrist off as a meal.

Real Boxing is powered by Unreal 3 Engine and looks pretty nice texture-wise. However, character models are very generic and have incredibly stiff animations. As I stated earlier, every character will look like clones of each other with only slight variations to them. Animations are ok, but when throwing hooks you’ll notice a jarring shoulder animation where it looks like the shoulder is made out of rubber and twists. It’s just weird looking. Additionally, the girl that shows the Round card before getting back into the fight looks more anorexic than the Olsen twins and this is the only girl that shows off what round you’re in…no matter the country you fight in. The crowd around the ring looks good, as well as the ring itself. The audio does a serviceable job of capturing the sound of the ring, with punches sounding appropriate and the crowd roaring in the background. The announcer on the other hand is just plain irritating. When counting down for the opponent to be down for good, you’ll hear a very nasally and squeaky voice counting and you just can’t help but question, “Really? That’s the best voice they could go with?”

Real Boxing Gameplay 4

Real Boxing may be the very first boxing title on the PlayStation Vita but that doesn’t mean it’s good. While it’s a serviceable game that is occasionally enjoyable, it’s ultimately a very forgettable experience that won’t have you coming back for much. If you plan on playing online, you’ll definitely get more enjoyment that route but don’t expect a big community for it. What’s here is decent but it’s just hard for me to recommend, even at the budget asking price of $9.99. Only die-hard boxing fans need apply here…otherwise, move on.

Overall Score: 6.0 out of 10 = Proceed with caution…

A special thank you to the publisher for providing us a review copy for Real Boxing!

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