With all the attention that we here at OS have been giving to EA’s Fight Night Round 4, it's been easy to forget that the game doesn’t come out until sometime in the far-off future. In the mean time, Don King Presents: Prizefighter is hitting stores shelves today and here are some things you need to know about 2K’s inaugural pugilistic offering.
The main feature in Prizefighter is the innovative career mode, which is presented in a never-before-seen documentary style. Through a combination of traditional training and fighting game modes and incorporated cut-scenes, you can develop your boxer from a scrub to a legend, while learning about the true nuances of your fighter’s character inside and outside the ring. From what I’ve seen, the cut-scenes are like something out of Beyond the Glory, where you can hear third-person accounts of your boxer’s heroics as you’re playing out your career. Presumably we’ll get to hear what Don King has to say about our virtual boxer at some point, and that could only be amazing. Unfortunately, reports suggest that these cut-scenes are entirely preconceived, and how you go about the dynamic portions of your fighter’s career has no effect on the scenes you encounter.
Nevertheless, you will be able to affect how your boxer develops through the training exercises you complete, and the fights that you enter. The training exercises are set-up in a style similar to Guitar Hero (minus the strum bar) or most music/rhythm games, where you press certain buttons at certain times to make your created boxer perform tasks like hitting the speed bag, or jumping rope. These exercises in turn build certain attributes, which impacts how your boxer performs in the ring. There are other little twists and turns along the way, but we’ll have to play through the career mode to discover what they all are.
While the idea sounds intriguing, it will be interesting to see how well 2K implements this feature. Since the whole game is pretty heavily based around the career mode, it could make or break the entire experience. Still, with a solid create-a-boxer mode, and training mini-games that don’t get old too quickly, the career mode could be a great place to waste some time. Of course, that won’t really matter unless the gameplay is up to par with the competition.
Prizefighter’s gameplay is different from Fight Night’s in that punching is exclusively button-based. X is jab, Y is straight, and A and B are left and right hook respectively, mirroring Fight Night’s button controls exactly. Combinations of buttons yield uppercuts, and throwing and landing enough punches in succession builds an adrenaline meter which allows for special punches that are thrown using combinations of LB and the face buttons. Specialty punches are acquired during career mode, and are very important in the later stages of the game to get quick knockouts. The adrenaline meter can also be built up by blocking multiple punches in a row, which is done by pushing the right stick forward to block high, or pulling it back to block low. It might be a shame to get away from the proven right stick method, but Prizefighter promises to deliver fast-paced boxing action with its unique controls.
Boxers get locked into clinches, which require each fighter to hit either A or B to break free, and when a player gets knocked down they have to tap A as fast as they can and then tap Y to get up. These little disruptions to the normal button-mashing of the fight are a good changes of pace to keep the experience diverse. There are also flash knockdowns, which allow one punch to change the course of the fight, but they are heavily dependent on the boxer’s movement and momentum relative to one another. Only time will tell if the gameplay of Prizefighter is geared towards the tactician who utilizes lots of jabs and picks his spots, or the KO artist who goes for the big swings on every punch. From the videos I’ve seen, the graphics and animations look really good, but the verdict is still out on the pace. Exchanges don’t seem as fluid as in Round 3, and combinations don’t flow together as smoothly. Still, without having the game in our hands, it’s impossible to say just how it feels.
Lastly, Prizefighter offers 40 licensed boxers, 10 legends (like Ken Norton, Joe Louis, and even Cinderella Man), 25 venues, and a pretty impressive track list. If the career mode is everything it’s supposed to be, and the gameplay lives up to the career mode, Prizefighter could be a sleeper hit in the currently barren world of boxing videogames. We’ll find out as Don King Presents: Prizefighter hits stores this week.