Don King Boxing Review (Wii)
Don King has promoted Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Bernard Hopkins, George Foreman, Roberto Duran and many more of boxing’s biggest names. But, can he promote video games? Let us find out whether Don King Boxing is kissing the canvas or knocking the competition out.
In the Ring
If you have ever taken some boxing lessons or spent time playing Wii Sports, you will be familiar with how to move your arms using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk combo. There are straight (jab punches with the left hand), hooks and uppercuts. Body shots are done by combining the B or Z buttons with the regular punching movements.
The game is not as responsive as I would like. I will sometimes throw uppercuts when I motioned for a hook, and throw hooks when I motioned for a jab. It is frustrating when you are trying to work a combo and it is ruined because of how the game takes in your motions. The game does not take itself so seriously though, and you will not really pay for your mistakes.
That being said, the controls are not so bad that they completely deter my enjoyment with the game. Blocking and dodging are just as important to the game as throwing punches, and so you will spend about half the time in the ring not throwing punches. You can put your gloves up using the A button, and dodging is done by tilting the controllers left or right. Not playing defense will have you seeing stars in no time.
If you are getting pounded, there is no way to clinch, and moving backwards will not keep your opponent from mauling you. However, that probably will not be a problem since I could honestly win a match with my eyes closed on the easy difficulty -- your opponent will frequently be down for the count on his first knockdown. Medium difficulty fights will last longer, but I was usually the victor as long as I played it smart.
The roster is packed with boxers from the past and present. There are no De La Hoyas here, but you will find WBO and WBC Middleweight Champion Kelly Pavlik, Ring Light Heavyweight Champion Joe Calzaghe and rising star Andre Berto. There are also seven classic boxers, including Larry Holmes, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano and "Cinderella Man" James Braddock. There are 31 fighters in all. The heavyweight division is particularly light with the biggest name being Andrew Golota.
I know this is a Wii game, but these graphics stink. I am not comparing them to Fight Night Round 4 on the PS3 or Xbox 360 either. I have seen Super Mario Galaxy and I know that the Wii can put out something pretty. Nevertheless, The graphics are reminiscent of a PS2 game, and I cannot even say it looks better than Fight Night Round 2, which came out five years ago.
Although the game is not attractive, it is dressed up like an A-list actress. The game features licenses for many major boxing brands, like Everlast and Jordan. While you are staring at that boxer that looks somewhat recognizable, you will get to look at some of the venues that have held the most talked about fights in the history of the sweet science: Madison Square Garden, Boardwalk Hall, the Trump Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City and of course Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas are all represented here.
There are dozens of songs on the soundtrack, including two classics from Run DMC and the song Rocky made famous, "Eye of he Tiger" by Survivor.
Your career starts as a little known boxer named The Kid. You do not get to customize any aspect of the character or his attributes. Other than that, the Career mode is extremely well put together. Between every bout is a live-action clip or series of clips about either your opponent, your career or whatever else is going on. For example, it might Don King psyching you up, two agents fighting for your services, a journalist talking about your last fight, or an opponent saying how quickly you will be seeing stars.
The acting is pretty solid, and you can tell a lot of work was put into getting the story together. Taking the role of The Kid is engaging and fun. The only problem is that some of the boxers sound like they are speaking with a mouth full of marbles. I need subtitles to know what Joe Calzaghe is trying to tell me. Other than that, the Career mode is definitely the highlight of the game.
When fighting as The Kid gets tiring, your trainer, Frank Cardelli, will occasionally tell you a story about a classic fight. Here you will fight as some of the old-timers, like James Braddock or Joe Louis, and relive some of their greatest ring moments. This is also where you unlock arenas and legendary boxers.
If staying in shape is more your game, Don King Boxing can handle that as well. It has a 20-day program where you are hitting the bags, jumping rope or working combos. I recommend you start at two minutes and then work your way up to six because you will feel the burn. You can follow your progress with your fitness chart, and keep track of how many fitness points you have attained.
The game has no online component or create-a-modes. A game like this probably would not work well online on the Wii, so it is difficult for me to complain about that aspect too much. A create-a-boxer mode would have been nice but somewhat pointless, considering you hardly see the guy.
Don King Boxing seems to be stuck somewhere between the Fight Nights and the Ready 2 Rumbles of the world. The gameplay lends itself to simplicity so anybody can jump in and play, but the presentation is very simulation-like and may turn off the casual fan. Identity crisis or not, Don King Boxing is still a puncher. It is hardly a looker by any means, but it is a fun game. If you ever wanted an extension of Wii Sports without huge Afros and muscle-bound freaks, Don King Boxing should be in your corner.
In the Ring: Not too serious, and still a fun game.
Graphics: Looks like an early PS2 game.
Sound: Jim Lampley can get old in the booth, but the soundtrack is vast and somewhat varied.
Entertainment Value: If you like the gameplay and want to sweat, the Story mode is well worth a playthrough.
Learning Curve: Will not take long to figure out how to move your arms back and forth. Bump it up to medium difficulty for even the slightest bit of challenge.
Final Score: 7.0 (Good)