Mike Tyson Heavyweight Boxing Review (Xbox)
I love boxing. I’m one of those guys who watches every thing from the title fights on HBO and Showtime to the up and coming fighters on ESPN2. So being a boxing fanatic, I have been dreaming of a boxing game that fully captures the sport. Many companies have tried before but nobody has been able to get it quite right. Acclaim came out with HBO Boxing a few years back that had a great Career mode but extremely slow and confusing gameplay. Victorious Boxers had great control and good graphics but all of the fighters were fictional and cartoonish. EA has had 5 chances at creating a realistic boxing game but they have taken a step back with the arcadeish Knockout Kings 2002. Actually the only games that I have ever played that were close to a good boxing sim with realistic gameplay and real boxers were Knockout Kings 2001 and Sega’s Evander Holyfield and Greatest Heavyweights games.
So after being pissed about how EA changed Knockout Kings, I looked at Mike Tyson Heavyweight Boxing as the game that could potentially give us the first realistic boxing simulation. Sure, it only features heavyweights (perhaps the weakest division in boxing right now when it comes to talent). Sure, it features Mike Tyson, a boxer who is a shell of his former self. Still if this game could give me gameplay that is close to real boxing and as long as I can be the Mike Tyson of old and knock people out, I’m happy. So lets see how good Mike Tyson Heavyweight Boxing is.
The arenas look decent with good lighting effects. All of the arenas are fictional but Codemasters did a good job of making it look like many boxing venues look like during a fight. The crowd on the bottom half of the arena is three-dimensional and it looks pretty good. But on the top half of the arena, the crowd looks like sprites in some areas and boxes in others.
Now I’m kind of split when it comes to how the boxers look. On one hand, many of the boxers (Tyson, Tua, Botha) look like their real life counterparts, however, the punching and blocking animations seem like they skip. There seems to be a hesitation when some boxers throw certain punches like the over hand right.
I think Codemasters has no idea how to put play-by-play commentary correctly into a game. There is a two-man booth comprised of play-by-play man, Ian Darke and color commentator, Bobby Czyz. For some reason, Codemasters decided to only use the commentary for the replays that occur after the fight is over. I have no idea why they decided to do this. If you are going to pay these two to come in and record their commentary, why only use them for the replays. Also, even the replay commentary gets repetitive after a while.
The in fight sounds are pretty basic. You hear the same thud whether you are punching some one in the body or head. The same thud whether you throw a jab or a hook. The crowd sounds seem like they are just running on a constant loop. The crowd doesn’t seem to react to the action in the ring at all. It sounds the same no matter what you do.
So let’s get to the gameplay. I’m going to start with the positive. Mike Tyson is in the game and the create-a-boxer is deeper then any other boxing game to date. But who cares about that if the game plays like crap so lets go to the negative. There are several different modes in this game including exhibition mode, speed fight mode and title fight mode. The title fight mode, you must pick a boxer (only six are available at the beginning) and defeat each one until you win the belt. There are three titles, gold, silver, and bronze, and winning a title will allow you to use more boxers and arenas in exhibition mode.
There are only THREE ROUNDS per fight! It doesn’t matter what mode or whom you are fighting you cannot change that. That is just inexcusable. Even in strictly arcade boxing games, you are given the option to change the number of rounds. Once you get into the game there are a number of problems that plague this game. First, the movement of the boxers seems stiff. Now, I know that this is heavyweight boxing and supposed to be slower then the other divisions but everything here feels a step slow. The movement of the boxers is too slow, but on the other hand, the speed in which you throw punches is normal. So, this causes every fight to be a slugfest because you can’t move away from the punches. This also throws out any attempt at using strategy in this game. You will find that the only way to win fight is to choose one of the powerful fighters like Tyson, Tua, or Botha or to just button mash and throw as many combos as you can.
From a simulation perspective, the game suffers because there is no way to control the pace of the fight. The jab and the straight cross have very little effect on the computer so you are forced to get in close and throw uppercuts and hooks the entire time. Two games that do a good job of controlling the pace of the fight are the last two versions of Knockout Kings. In 2001, you could control a fight with the jab (if you were a fighter like Ali or for example Vernon Forrest in the lower divisions) or slug it out (if you use Tua or Joe Frazier). The choice was up to you. In 2002, even though the game was much faster than 2001 and could turn in to a button masher easily, you still could control the pace of the fight by sticking and moving or bobbing and weaving. With Mike Tyson, there is no controlling the pace of the fight. If you don’t throw hooks, uppercuts and combinations constantly, you will get your ass handed too you. The game features Larry Holmes who had one of the greatest jabs of all time and its rendered useless because the punch causes no damage in this game. That alone takes away the fun aspect of the game because you are fighting the same style of fight no matter what you do and whom you use.
From an arcade perspective, the game tries but comes up short for some of the same reasons that it’s not a good sim. Games like Ready to Rumble and Victorious Boxers are great because even though they have wild things like power-ups and crazy combinations, the games still perform like a boxing game and require movement and some strategy to win. The only thing that reminds me that this is a boxing game is the fighters and the ring.
Codemasters tried to be creative and put a new spin on recovering from a knockdown and I hate it! Instead of pressing one button continuously to get off the canvas, you must press a random combination of buttons continuously to get up. For example, instead of pressing X several times, you must press X a few times, then maybe O, then maybe X again. The problem is u never know what pattern the game will choose so your chances of getting up after one knockdown is slim. Now, I’ll admit that I’m not extremely quick with pressing the buttons even when it’s one, but to ask to press a random combination is a little too much.
I honestly can’t think of one reason why anyone should purchase this game. If you want a boxing sim, pick up Knockout Kings 2001 for the Playstation 2 or Playstation. If you want an arcade boxing game, pick up Knockout Kings 2002, Victorious Boxers, or Ready 2 Rumble. The only reason to buy this game would be if you wanted to fight with Mike Tyson, and if you are that desperate to fight Mike, go break out your old NES and purchase Mike Tyson’s Punch Out for $2.00 out of the bargain bin at EB. Do not purchase this game. There are too many good sports games coming out to waste your money.