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Don King Presents: Prizefighter REVIEW

Don King Presents: Prizefighter Review (Xbox 360)

On the one hand, the game offers an innovative and rewarding documentary style career mode, which makes it worth playing through the game once.

On the other hand, jerky animations and unresponsive controls plague the game inside the ring.

It was inevitable that Prizefighter would take many hints from its competitor, Fight Night Round 3, and the similarities are undeniable. When it comes down to it, however, Fight Night is still more fun to play today, despite coming out several years ago.

The gameplay in Prizefighter is where it really suffers. To be blunt, it’s just not that good.

First off, the button-based controls don’t feel as intuitive as Fight Night’s Total Control Punching – which utilizes movements of the right stick. It’s much harder to throw combos in Prizefighter, and the punches always feel like individual animations instead of transitioning smoothly from one to another.

There are three bars on the screen: health, stamina, and adrenaline. The health meter is standard; when its empty you fall down. The stamina meter is different in that instead of slowly dwindling over the course of the fight, it dwindles very rapidly after a few punches, but regenerates equally fast. This leads to a nice pace which requires you to move in for a few punches, and then get out to let your stamina regenerate.

Unfortunately, the meter always regenerates the same amount no matter how late into the fight it is, so your punches have full effect even in the later rounds of the fight. This keeps the pace quite hectic, even when both fighters should be tired.

The adrenaline meter is another different element to Prizefighter. You build it by successfully landing or blocking multiple punches in a row, until you have enough to unleash a signature punch. These punches are much more powerful than the normal punches, but thankfully they don’t look too ridiculous.

Instead, they look like slightly exaggerated equivalents of whatever punch corresponds to the button you press. If you use them carefully, they can change the fight dramatically, but they are easy to block or punch into, which still causes your boxer to lose the adrenaline without the benefit of landing the big punch.

If you build your adrenaline all the way, you can activate focus mode, which gives your fighter unlimited stamina for a short period of time, and allows you to throw lots of punches which are slightly more powerful than normal.

However, it isn't really worth waiting for your adrenaline to build up all the way, as you are more effective just using the individual punches as you earn them. Ultimately, this feature feels arcadey, and takes away from the otherwise realistic realistic feel of the gameplay.

Without Adrenaline, the pace of the game is actually pretty good. You have to block frequently – done by pressing the right stick up to block high, or down to block low – and your guard will break after a few punches causing you to mix up your defense and attack.


Prizefighter tries to be the next great boxing game, unfortunately, it didn't quite make it.

This combined with the stamina system leads to lots of in and out gameplay. It feels pretty satisfying to sit back and defend while waiting for your spot, before throwing a few punches and staggering your opponent.

Another probelm is the collision detection for both fighters and their punches is an absolute joke. Too many punches registering without ever actually hitting their target. The gameplay also gives way to button mashing too often as a result, since its easier to just stand in and trade punch after punch and just hope they land.

If your opponent has less health than you, you can just trade punches with them and watch both fighters health diminish until they fall down. The computer does little to counter this strategy, and as a result despite allowing for smart gameplay, the games AI does not encourage it.

Characters are also staggered too easily by punches, disrupting the flow of the game, and the power of straights is way over-exaggerated.

Graphics
The graphics in Prizefighter are solid, but not extraordinary.

The game is more colorful than Fight Night, but not as smooth in character models or animations. The environment around the ring is done well, with lots of activity outside of the fight, but the actual fighters themselves are just mediocre.

Again, the animations are choppy, and the collision detection very poor - negatively impacting the graphics.

Injuries are done pretty well, with swelling and bruising building up on fighter’s faces over the course of the fight, but the patterns in which they develop are repeated. Boxers tend to look the same as they get beat up, with little variation in how or where they are injured. Still, some of the punches look really good, especially the leaning ones, and other animations are done pretty well.

Sound
Again, nothing extraordinary here.

The commentary is pretty bland and very repetitive, and the training exercises are almost identical to Fight Night’s in that your coach says the exact same things over and over every time.

The punch sounds are solid, but also quite arcadey. The background noise in the gyms is done very well, and adds a nice feel to the fight, but doesn’t make up for the other shortcomings in this department.

The voice overs in the career mode are for the most part pretty good, but we’ll cover those in the career mode section. The soundtrack, on the other hand, is extraordinary.


If Prizefighter packed as much gameplay as it did attitude, it would have a shot.

Presentation
This is one thing 2k does really well. There are over 40 fighters in the game, with unlockable classics like Joe Louis and Max Baer. The included manual is extremely well-done, being both long and visually very impressive.

There's tons of included information, and 2k should be commended for putting so much effort into this department while other games are content to just give us 2 or 3 pages of information.

The soundtrack, as I mentioned earlier, is great, and it just goes to show that 2k puts a lot of effort into this area. The menus are easy to use, and everything is explained internally quite well. No real complaints with the presentation in Prizefighter.

Career Mode
Prizefighter is all about its new documentary style career mode and it doesn’t disappoint.

Although you can only play through as a heavyweight, and your boxer must be nicknamed “The Kid,” the rest of the create a fighter options are extensive.

You will be able to create fighters that look like anyone you could ever want to recreate, from yourself to Mike Tyson.

For the most part Prizefighters Career Mode is set up like Fight Night’s, in that you select a fight, train for it to build specific attributes, before participating in the fight.

However, the narrative interludes that advance the story are what really set the game apart. You’ll hear legend like Ken Norton and Larry Holmes talk about your character’s legend, and Don King features prominently here as well.

You’ll be introduced to rivals, who will speak retroactively about fights you have not yet done, thus leading into said fights. You’ll also be forced into scenarios like “survive a round against Joe Louis with Max Baer,” or “win the fight with a broken hand.” The game then accommodates for these scenarios.

For example in the Baer Louis fight, you have to play defense the whole time and just not let Louis hit you. In the broken hand fight, every punch you throw with your right hand drains a significant amount of your health. These interludes are good for both mixing up the pace of the career mode, and forcing you to work on certain things.

The training modes are fun, but repetitive. There are only four attributes to build - strength, dexterity, agility, and stamina – but they seem to suffice in the context of developing your fighter.
You can make a heavy hitter with lots of power but little speed, or a quick guy with lots of endurance who wins on the cards. You also have to balance training with other things like doing commercials, which build your media profile but cost attributes. The choice is yours.

Unfortunately, the career mode unravels the same way every time, so there is little replay value, and that is perhaps the biggest drawback to the only redeeming feature of the title.

Online
There is online but I haven’t dealt with it extensively. Still, multiplayer is solid, but not distinctly more rewarding than Fight Night.

Conclusion
I really wanted to like this game. I have a tremendous amount of respect for 2k’s sports titles, and I was thrilled to hear they were trying their hand at boxing.

Sadly, I was ultimately disappointed. The bad collision detection and otherwise choppy gameplay overshadows the solid career mode.

Although the potential is there for fights to have a really natural and realistic pace, its too easy to just let them devolve into button mashing fests which look ridiculous and aren’t much fun in the end. The multiplayer is decent, and the career mode, although for the most part great, has no replay value, so its hard to advocate a purchase for anyone but the most hardcore of virtual pugilists.

Maybe if 2k tries again they could tighten a few screws and present a great boxing title; until then just dust off your copy of Fight Night Round 3 and save yourself sixty bucks.


Don King Presents: Prizefighter Score
Innovative career mode.
Potentially good pace for fights.
Presentation.
Horrible collision detection.
Button mashing.
Little replay value.
6.5
out of 10
Don King Presents: Prizefighter Videos
Member Comments
# 1 Complex @ 06/16/08 12:13 PM
A little generous in teh score, but over all the review hits home. Gameplay is very lacking.
 
# 2 fistofrage @ 06/16/08 12:19 PM
I pretty much agree with your comments. I gave the game about a 7, but I could see even giving this game a 5. In the end, I'll get 40+ hours of gameplay out of it so its not too bad. You nailed it though, the game is a little stiff, it can turn into button mashing if you don't learn all the controls, and the story mode has little or no replay value. On top of that only 5 created boxers really brings the game down. The atrocious scoring system may be one of my biggest complaints too.

I think it was a good 1st effort. If they fix some things and add a robust career mode, I would buy PF2 if they ever make it.
 
# 3 jpringle @ 06/16/08 12:28 PM
Now I never been a fan of boxing games on last gen or this gen(I did love Mike Tyson's Punch-Out & Ring King, but that was so long ago)so maybe my opinion shouldn't matter, but I must say the hit detection in this game is by far the worst I have seen in a boxing game. I was watching my cousin play it yesterday & he was loving it I was like "you are staggering him and ur barely touching him." I give this game a 2 out of 10. Stick with Fight Night. Its looks better & moves more smoothly.
 
# 4 BlyGilmore @ 06/16/08 02:19 PM
Stick with Fight Night ... at least until Facebreaker comes out ;-)

It certainly hasn't been a very good spring for 2K Sports critically, with both this and MLB 2k8 not exactly earning rave reviews.

What really concerns me is that both of these games seem to have been shipped no with "that's not a big deal" kind of problems and flaws but instead "that should never be allowed to happen" problems and flaws.

Like MLB 2k with the stuttering and frame rate issues and made the game very tough to play early on. And now a boxing game that apparently isn't good at knowing whether either boxer got hit or not.

As the saying goes, once is a fluke. Twice is a pattern.
 
# 5 BlyGilmore @ 06/16/08 02:31 PM
i think his complaint was mostly about when playing the computer in career mode ...
 
# 6 fistofrage @ 06/16/08 04:07 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by kcxiv
I dont think you can even button mash in career mode. The cpu will knocked ya out quick. At least from my experiences. If you box smart and know how to throw combos you can take them all out fairly easy. I am only 18 matches into career mode with a 15-3 record and 9 knock outs.
I wonder if you lose a certain amount of fights if it will make you stop. I am 23-8-1 with 16 KO's. I have only been KO'd twice. There is one dude that will give you fits. I wish I could remember his name, but if you are 18 fights in, he'll come up quick. He wanted to fight toe to toe, but I moved that to the outside because he was lightning quick. When I moved to outside, he did too and he was still lightning quick. I lost to him twice on the third fight I caught him in the 9th and knocked him down and then finished him off with a liver shot for the TKO. I've had a couple guys beat me twice. Every fight is pretty much a challenge, although I destroyed that Silva clown 99-91 on all 3 cards.
 
# 7 JayBee74 @ 06/16/08 04:35 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by thelwig14
And of all my fights online, anyone who came out button mashed either got destroyed or immediately adjusted.
No, button mashing doesn't work-for one thing it will induce immediate fatigue and slow you to a crawl.
 
# 8 NINJAK2 @ 06/16/08 06:43 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by JayBee74
No, button mashing doesn't work-for one thing it will induce immediate fatigue and slow you to a crawl.
I agree. This game has some issues with my main gripes being judging and collision detection (which you can argue are very important in a boxing sim). For some reason though I can't get enough of it as I really enjoy the pace of the fights, esp. multiplayer. I've played this way more than I did FN3. Good Review though. I'd give it a 7.5-8.0, even higher if those two issues were fixed.
 
# 9 jpringle @ 06/16/08 07:10 PM
I just can't believe they released this game with the hit detection as horrible as it is. I mean how you gonna get knocked downwhen the glove just barely hit ur chin & to make it worst they show the knock down in slow mo so you can see how bad the hitdetection is. Some1 at 2K needs to be reprimanded for let this flaw slip through.
 
# 10 Lakers 24 7 @ 06/16/08 07:51 PM
There are glitches, the hit detection is bad, the judging is bad, but the core gameplay is still the best on next gen consoles. That's if you're truely into boxing and understand the simulation aspects of it. As with mostly all of 2ks games, especially APF and now PF, they don't really cater to the casual fan. So, there's not much there if you don't care for having to setup combos, sticking and moving, establishing the jab, jabbing to the solar plex, working angles, etc etc
 
# 11 Lakers 24 7 @ 06/16/08 11:09 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by metallicatz
Why is it that some people always just assume that people who don't like a game as much as them "don't understand the sport"? You can only block up and down in PF, not side to side. There's nothing sim or pure about that. Supercharged signature punches from a charged adrenaline meter? There's nothing sim about that. As far as the playing the career mode, the animations are so bad that you can generally see which punches are coming from a mile away, which then enables you to simply and easily counter-punch your way to victory.....even on Champion difficulty. The AI is extremely predictable on every difficulty level as well. While the Step-in jab isn't as much of a money punch on Champion difficulty, you can still often catch your opponent near the ropes and land them in succession. I once counted 8 in a row on Champion difficulty......either that or the AI (on every level) will often counter being hit with the step-in jab with a signature punch from way out of range and all you have to do is time it to continue landing more step-in jabs. The regular jab is generally only effective in this game as a counter punch. My opinion, this is pretty far from a sim boxing experience. You can say what you will about the review scores from sites like IGN and Gamespot and claim the reviewers are "casual gamers that don't anything about boxing", which is an assumption based on wishful thinking more than anything, but when Operation Sports also gives it a subpar rating? At that point you gotta start facing reality. Something tells me that the guys who run this site are pretty into sports and sports games. And they ended up goving it the same exact review score I did on this board.

If you like the game then that's cool, but don't try to tell other people they don't understand boxing because they don't like it near as much. After all, the Sweet Science isn't exactly Rocket Science.

I agree with you, like I've said many times now the single player just doesn't present the ideal boxing simulation. It has also been noted that not everything about the gameplay is sim, no game will ever be 100% sim. Also, with all due respect to everyone at OS, I don't think their review is the be all end all for rating sports games. We all have our own preferences which is the basis for our opinions.
 
# 12 JayBee74 @ 06/17/08 12:02 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by metallicatz
You can say what you will about the review scores from sites like IGN and Gamespot and claim the reviewers are "casual gamers that don't anything about boxing", which is an assumption based on wishful thinking more than anything, but when Operation Sports also gives it a subpar rating? At that point you gotta start facing reality.
What reality do I have to face? I guarantee you I have played the game a lot more than you and above mentioned reviewers. I doubt that you have put few minutes into the game online, so what's your purpose now-to endorse the reviewers? You say you're cool with other people liking this game-your words say otherwise.
Quote:
Originally Posted by NEWYORICAN
Good review! and deserved score....I'm so looking forward to FN4...it can't get here any faster!
I'm still trying to figure out the giddiness for a game a year away.
 
# 13 JayBee74 @ 06/17/08 12:12 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by NINJAK2
I agree. This game has some issues with my main gripes being judging and collision detection (which you can argue are very important in a boxing sim). For some reason though I can't get enough of it as I really enjoy the pace of the fights, esp. multiplayer. I've played this way more than I did FN3. Good Review though. I'd give it a 7.5-8.0, even higher if those two issues were fixed.
I'm in your range, in big part to Xbox Live. I can't go higher because of the collision detection and I'd like a little more crispness with the combos. I totally disagree with the OS reviewer saying the negatives are button mashing and replay value. Try the game online (replay value) and try button mashing to win.
 
# 14 LP @ 06/17/08 04:07 AM
It seems to me that button mashing means nothing more than "no TPC." If you really think about it, you "mash buttons" in every game.
 
# 15 fistofrage @ 06/17/08 08:38 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by JayBee74

I'm still trying to figure out the giddiness for a game a year away.
Didn't you already return Prizefighter? . Its the hopes of an open career mode on Next Gen. I played through PF career mode and really enjoyed it, the only problem is that now its over, now what? I guess I go online. Buty I would have loved to play through a career with a few more weight classes.
 
# 16 JayBee74 @ 06/17/08 10:06 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by fistofrage
Didn't you already return Prizefighter? . Its the hopes of an open career mode on Next Gen. I played through PF career mode and really enjoyed it, the only problem is that now its over, now what? I guess I go online. Buty I would have loved to play through a career with a few more weight classes.
Nah, I was blitzed that night, thought I should have won a couple of fights that I got draws, and then made that stupid post. I usually refrain for posting in that state, but not that time.
 
# 17 CaptainZombie @ 06/17/08 10:32 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by JayBee74
Nah, I was blitzed that night, thought I should have won a couple of fights that I got draws, and then made that stupid post. I usually refrain for posting in that state, but not that time.
It happens to all of us JayBee. The love/hate relationship that this game has is kind of crazy. There are times where I enjoy it and then there are times I sit back and certain things that I have mentioned drive me up a wall. I am in no way about the graphics, and the graphics here are fine. But the more I have been playing, the collision detection is driving me nuts considering when you play older boxing titles from 3-4 years ago and punches land so realistically, but here they don't look like they land properly. It wants me to pull out any remaining hair that I have on my head. The inconsistent AI as you progress through career. I could be walloping on a dude for 3 rounds straight, and all of a sudden they become Superman, even after rematches.

This not only goes with boxing titles, but this generation of gaming for sports has been just blah all around. Sports games don't have the proper representation of their career/franchise modes or they do and something else is broken. Look at SDvR08, the career mode is an abomination and it kills me that after so many releases in that franchise, how could they mess things up. Look at Fight Night 3, not a bad boxing title, but the career mode to me is just blah. They should have copied to the tee what they had with FN2 and said that they will do something even better with FN4. But then look at the lapse between FN3 and FN4, we are talking 3 years.

I have been playing more PS2 games on the PS3 the last month or so and have been getting some rather nice enjoyment.

I guess I can stop ranting/complaining about some of the gaming being an abomination this generation.
 
# 18 fistofrage @ 06/17/08 10:41 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by candymanGT
It happens to all of us JayBee. The love/hate relationship that this game has is kind of crazy. There are times where I enjoy it and then there are times I sit back and certain things that I have mentioned drive me up a wall. I am in no way about the graphics, and the graphics here are fine. But the more I have been playing, the collision detection is driving me nuts considering when you play older boxing titles from 3-4 years ago and punches land so realistically, but here they don't look like they land properly. It wants me to pull out any remaining hair that I have on my head. The inconsistent AI as you progress through career. I could be walloping on a dude for 3 rounds straight, and all of a sudden they become Superman, even after rematches.

This not only goes with boxing titles, but this generation of gaming for sports has been just blah all around. Sports games don't have the proper representation of their career/franchise modes or they do and something else is broken. Look at SDvR08, the career mode is an abomination and it kills me that after so many releases in that franchise, how could they mess things up. Look at Fight Night 3, not a bad boxing title, but the career mode to me is just blah. They should have copied to the tee what they had with FN2 and said that they will do something even better with FN4. But then look at the lapse between FN3 and FN4, we are talking 3 years.

I have been playing more PS2 games on the PS3 the last month or so and have been getting some rather nice enjoyment.

I guess I can stop ranting/complaining about some of the gaming being an abomination this generation.

Preach on brother......Its sad that we still don't have a boxing game on the 360/PS3 that has rankings.....RANKINGS!?! Boxing is all about climbing the rankings, choosing your fights along the the way. My gosh, its sad, but games on the Sega Genesis had a better career mode than FNR3 and PF. PF's story was decent, but a short stroy mode makes a game a rnetal IMO. I will probably go online, but there are alot of fools on Xbox Live so I tend to enjoy single player better and PF has very little replay value in SP.
 
# 19 lasthour @ 06/18/08 08:29 PM
8th Round:

I've been downed twice....STILL SHOCKED.
I decided to relax and just go out fighting. We approach each other.

I start out with jabs to keep this guy off me. I then proceed to side step cross to his face whenever I see him leave it open. I take some hard shots and dance around the ring to get my head back right. The next thing I know I threw my guard down and hit him with some jabs and uppercut combos. I just watched his movements and ducked and dodged his punches never even trying to block. I was hitting him whenver I wanted to and then out of no where I was doing training routines on this guy. I believe it was a blackout cause all he was doing was getting hit and missing..........I did not even know I could do half of the things I was doing. When it was over I felt my(IRL) adrenaline had kicked in and the guy I was boxing was finished with 2 signature shots back to back. I WISHED HE GOT BACK UP!!
 

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