Well, er. Boxing fans don't exactly have a whole lot to choose from when it comes to Steam games, do they? The truth is, until the Fight Night series makes its way to Steam, this is the best we're going to get.
The unfortunate thing is that the "best" isn't really that good.
The game plays very similarly to a dumbed-down version of... You guessed it - Fight Night. Fighter movement is controlled with the left stick whilst the punches are mapped to directions on the right stick, or alternatively the face buttons. Left and right shoulder buttons are used for the high-low modifier and block, respectively, whilst tapping the right shoulder button lightly allows for a dodge.
Both you and your opponent have a health and a stamina bar. Big punches such as uppercuts do more damage but drain more stamina, whilst jabs … You get the drift. Dodging a punch successfully results in a Matrix-like slowdown that allows you to get a solid counter-hit in for extra damage and less stamina.
The fight goes on until one person knows the other person down and they stay down for a full 10 seconds, or a decision is reached at the end of however many rounds you set it to.
It’s the bare bones for any game that tries to call itself a boxing simulator, although the aforementioned issues prevent it from really being a good
- Poor dodging system - Real Boxing only allows you to dodge in a single direction (i.e. you cannot influence the direction you’re dodging), so the only thing that’s required of the player is timing. The problem is that the dodge comes out so slowly that you literally have to press it before the opponent’s attack comes out. It turns the skill/reflex-intensive dodging system of Fight Night and turns it into a skill-less guessing game
- Poor high-low system – Since there’s no high-low blocking system, holding the block button will block both high and low attacks. What’s worse, unlike Fight Night, where punching the head does more damage whilst punching to the body does less damage but drains more stamina from the opponent (the so-called “money in the bank” approach in boxing), Real Boxing makes no such distinction. It’s almost pointless that they bothered to include body punches at all in this game.
- Button-mashing - You can get through the entire game with button mashing. At no point in the game did I feel that throwing one particular punch was more effective than throwing any other. I beat the first opponent in the game the same way I beat the last opponent – mashing.
- Shallow career mode – Literally has you fight one opponent after another, earning cash whilst buying upgrades. Rinse and repeat until you become the supreme champion of the universe or some ♥♥♥♥. Every so often you’re allowed to do a “training mini-game” in order to increase your stats as well. Speaking of which…
- Tedious mini-games - There are 3 training mini-games, each improving a separate stat (strength, stamina and speed). Unfortunately, all three are essentially glorified quick-time events, and very easy. It’s incredibly repetitive and tedious, but necessary in order to improve your boxer’s stats
- Poor multiplayer implementation – Purely online matchmaking. No local multiplayer or even the ability to host a game against a friend. I can’t comment further because quite frankly I never got a game going.
Overall, the issue is that the game boils down to a skill-independent, button-mashing affair. I’ve figured out the secret to the game. You ready?
If opponent has worse stats than you – Mash anything. You can’t lose.
If opponent has equal or better stats than you – Hold block. Wait for opponent to drain his stamina, then mash anything. Rinse, repeat.
I have to admit that the game does look quite pretty for an indie title. Character models look realistic, even if the models are fairly bland. Supports 1920x1080 resolution, which is nice.
Sound effects are adequate. Sadly lacks any real music outside of the nauseating entrance music that plays when your boxer walks towards the ring. A single commentator is present for the game, and whilst it’s a nice touch, he appears to only have approximately 10 lines and uses them all at the wrong time. Be prepared as he calls every one of your uppercuts a jab and a complete one-sided pounding as the “Fight of the decade”.
I’m an indie gamer at heart. Because of that, I hate games like this. I hate that games like this exist because it’s an example of an indie game making a strictly inferior version of a AAA game like Fight Night
and dumbing down all the mechanics and depth whilst hiding behind the fact that it’s an “indie” game. Indie games should never, ever be strict downgrades of AAA games.
Unfortunately, as I said before, us Steam gamers looking for a chance to practice the art of the sweet science aren’t exactly spoilt for choice. This is the best boxing game on Steam right now, and if that’s what you’re looking for then I would recommend you give it a shot. For everyone else though, stay away.