|System: X360, Wii, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Venom Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: 2K Sports||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 9, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2, 8 online||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Tom Kelly
I love boxing; I always have. It's the sweet science, and the skill these athletes display in the ring is often magnificent. How smooth all their punches come together is a marvel to watch. Thus, what do you think would be the most crucial aspect of a boxing game? Well that's easy enough, or is it? The logical answer, of course, is the in-ring action. If the boxing falls flat, then there is nothing that can turn the tide. Each and every punch should feel natural, the flow of the fight and fighter is just so important.
Unfortunately for Old Donny, his game is everything but functional inside the ropes. Despite it's in-ring flaws it does feature one of the better career modes I've ever seen, but even the slick presentation cannot save Prizefighter from becoming just another tragic story in boxing lore.
Let us start with the much ballyhooed career mode. It all transpires through a highly detailed documentary chronicling your rise as a pro fighter. First you create your champion of choice, in which you can pretty much make him look like anything you want. There is also a decent amount of entrance songsand gear to deck him out in. The only thing you cannot change is his weight class (heavyweight) and his nickname, which is 'The Kid,' and yes that is lame. Through interviews with actors portraying fictional characters and actual managers or boxers, the journey is oftentimes a blast to watch. Storyline aside, there are many other features that keep the experience fresh throughout. For instance, at any give time your trainer will sit you down to discuss old fights, at which point you assume the role of a legendary fighter and attempt to change history or repeat it. These classic matches will unlock some of the all-time greats for use in the exhibition mode.
Sure, most of these fights are nearly impossible, but it's still a nice touch. Also, there are times you'll get calls from flashy agents urging you to participate in some photo shoot instead of going to the gym and sweating it out. If you do, your notoriety goes up, but you will lose some strength or stamina in the process. A fairly easy choice, but it does demonstrate some of the pitfalls fighters face in their careers. Speaking of strength and stamina, either of these, along with a few other skills, can be enhanced during training mini-games. There are a few to choose from and they range from simple to absolutely ridiculous. To go along with the dynamite career mode, Prizefighter offers an exhibition mode; a fighter-stable where you can create multiple fighters and track their individual performance, training, and the ability to fight via Xbox LIVE or system link. With all the key components in place, it is a real shame Prizefighter falls so short on the largest piece of the puzzle.
The gameplay is just plain awful. Punches come across sloppy, the hit detection is, to put it mildly, hit or miss, and the animations are rough. You really get the feeling while playing that with just a few more months of fine-tuning this game could have been pretty darn good. Not Fight Night Round 3 good mind you, but at least a worthy hold over title while Round 4 gets developed. The number one hiccup is the blocking, which either does not work or functions in spasms. Despite the blocking snafu, you can still win rather easily. I won nearly every fight just throwing the straight right. That's right; forget the hooks, the signature punches, and working the body, all you need is the power of the almighty straight right. Often you can land three to four in a row before the computer reacts to how cheap you are being. It's okay even if you miss, the crummy hit detection gives you the chance to knock people out as your arm is coming back from the punch you just threw. It's magnificent really, truly entertaining to watch people get hit or react to punches that miss by a mile.