Reviewed: June 17, 2008
Released: June 9, 2008
I am a huge fan of the EA Sports Fight Night series, and that could have negatively affected my experience with this game. However, I think you must consider other similar titles when considering whether or not to purchase or rent a game. That’s your hard-earned cash after all.
2K Sports finally takes a jab (and a hook) at the boxing genre in their most recent attempt to rival EA Sports every move with Don King Presents: Prizefighter. EA has been making their Fight Night series since 2004. You will find out shortly after beginning this game that 2K is obviously the second mover on this sports genre.
Nearly everything in Prizefighter is inferior to its counterpart of the boxing community. The sound is the only thing that rivals its rival, and that’s only because they are both poor (as with most any sports game). The visuals are good, but not great. The gameplay is fun, but not exhilarating. Overall, it is a good game, but nothing to write home about (although I will essentially do just that).
The menu to start off the game is about as simple as it gets. You will probably want to throw a few punches in the Exhibition mode to get yourself accustomed to the controls, as they are pure memorization. The multiplayer online is pretty seamless, and pretty fun to be able to throw some punches with your friends. The only difference between this and real life is that nobody goes home with a black eye or a broken nose this way (unless you’re playing in the same room, then there might still be a hospital visit or two).
The ultimate goal is the Career mode with a boxer that you have created in the Fighter Factory. The Fighter Factory allows you to customize just about everything from your boxer’s trunks to his eyebrow shape and color. Once you create your boxer, you will want to spend a lot of time training him; although, you can’t just sit in the gym training because you must book a fight to train. I would recommend training your fighter yourself rather than using the quick training that the game offers. Training on your own will allow you to upgrade your attributes much faster and it’s fun.
The training aspect of Prizefighter also offers a little more value for your buck because as you train your champ the game will rate you against the world. I am number 601 in the world in the heavy bag competition by the way. You can also play these mini-game training sessions on their own if you really have the desire to play DDR instead of box. Most of the mini-games are of the “see-how-fast-I-can-press-these-buttons-in-the-right-sequence” variety, but they are relatively fun nonetheless.
Prizefighter also employs what they call your Media Profile. A higher media profile will allow you to make more money from each fight. The catch is that in order to raise your media profile, you must skip a “week” of training. For most fights you are allotted two weeks of training before the fight. Going to a basketball game or being in an ad for Jordan shoes will increase your media profile and get your name in the paper, but it will cut into your training time. The only bad thing is that the only thing you can really use the money for is to buy new trunks, shoes, tattoos and the like.
The Media Profile is a cool idea, but I think it is executed poorly. I found that I never used the money that I earned for anything, so there was no reason to have a good media profile besides being able to say that you starred in MJ’s Hanes commercial. I started spending more time skipping promos and working out instead so that I could kick some more ass. I also noticed that after defending my title in what the game called the most popular match of all time, my media profile actually dropped. This is not uncommon throughout the game. After many of my wins, my profile went down. I guess a 3-round knockout wasn’t good enough for the media.
The major complaint about Prizefighter are the controls. It’s like going back in time to press A for a left punch and B for a right punch. It’s the old-style push this button to do this and another button to do something else. This makes it quickly turn into a button mashing party when your buddy starts losing horribly to your dominance. Fight Night has had superior controls with their intuitive analog punch throwing mechanism for years now. The button format requires a lot of memorization and far less intuition. This is a good reason to practice up in the exhibition mode before starting your career.
The signature punch is a good feature because it allows you to really give the opponent a hurtin’. You can build up your adrenaline bar until you are able to throw a signature punch that will take a lot of energy out of your opponent. If you so choose, you can also let the adrenaline bar build up all the way and use the adrenaline boost to give you a semi-permanent full stamina bar so that you can pummel your opponent with punch after punch.
Another cool aspect of Prizefighter is the classic fights. First, your trainer gives you a rundown of what happened in a historic match. Then you get the chance to re-enact the last round of that fight. The kind of weird thing about it is that it doesn’t actually matter what you do. The fight will always turn out the same way. You can be knocked out in 10 seconds, and the announcer still just says what actually happened. Then you just go on with your career like nothing ever happened. You can always go back and try these fights again if you so choose.
Overall, the gameplay is fun, but not fantastic. I did find myself screaming and yelling at the TV and punching things in real life. That’s always the sign of a fun game. However, there are a lot of flaws in 2K’s first generation boxing game, but it’s still a boxing game, and it will always be fun to beat another fellow human being senseless from the comfort of your own living room.
The graphics in Prizefighter reflect the rest of the game. There are bright spots, but ultimately it falls short of where it should be. The game looks great. The videos look fantastic. However, when the gameplay begins, the graphics change dramatically. There is a lot of hit the guy in the chest and his face squirts blood or hit the guy in the side of his face and his head moves toward your fist. There are practically no real-time injury graphics. The spit and blood are cool, but hardly realistic. The girls holding the round cards are also pretty attractive.
There are a lot of cool rings that you can play in from the local gym to Madison Square Garden to Caesar’s Palace (although it has some generic name, it is obviously Caesar’s). The slow motion replays are quite awesome until something happens like when you punch completely through the guy’s head with a huge right hook that would have knocked him down then he knocks you down and you have to watch the carnage and scream at the game as you watch your fist go through his face over and over again.
You do have an energy meter for you and the opponent. This is nice for knowing exactly when to throw that big signature punch to knock him down. However, it is also extremely unrealistic. The rest of the HUD includes the stamina bar and the signature punch meter.
The sound here is about comparable to every sports game ever created for any system since the PlayStation. There are some good songs on the soundtrack, but not really enough to keep you from getting tired of them after playing through about the first hour or so.
The commentary is pretty interesting. There are a few funny lines from the ringside announcers, and the introductions are pretty cool because you can tell the game where you’re from. This way you get to hear the announcer say “In the red corner, from Indianapolis, Indiana…” The bad part of the announcing is that there’s no name recognition whatsoever. You are forced to choose a nickname that they will refer to you as throughout your career. This gets really old really fast no matter what name you choose.
The sound effects package is good. It’s always fun to hear a guy get busted in the face. The slow motion replays are pretty cool to listen to the guy moan and groan as his face hits the canvas.
The career mode is longer and harder than I expected. Eventually it gets really easy to beat fighters, but while you’re building up your fighter’s attributes, you will get defeated a few times. Getting beat allows you to train for another week, though, and you will eventually be strong enough or fast enough to beat your opponent.
The online mode and system link will keep you busy forever if you want to keep fighting. The mini-game ratings add a little value to the game overall, as do the classic fights.
The achievement points are pretty spread out, but you pretty much have to get all of them. They require you to beat certain fighters, but you can’t get through the game without beating almost all of the fighters.
I actually really enjoyed playing Don King Presents: Prizefighter. It had me cursing at the TV and at my boxer quite often, but being a fun game just isn’t good enough. I also enjoy playing Mike Tyson’s Punch Out, but that doesn’t make it a great 21st century game. While Prizefighter greatly outweighs Tyson’s in graphics and everything else imaginable, it’s just not a great game for this generation of systems.
Everyone else is using innovative controls and innovative strategies with new features and game modes. I have to give 2K a little credit. This is their first attempt at this genre so some flaws are expected. When EA has been making boxing games for five years now, their game should be vastly superior (and it is).
Overall, Prizefighter is a fun game that you may want to rent before you decide to buy it. In my opinion, the only reason to buy this game is if you have played all the way through Fight Night and you’re just itching for a new boxing title.