Review by ShyningFade

Reviewed: 03/18/02 | Updated: 03/18/02

A grade A+ simulation of fighting crack addicts on the street. Gunshots included.

Knockout Kings 2002, the newest in the EA line of boxing games. This game brought a new control scheme along with it, which hoped to revitalize the dying series. Obviously from the score, it failed miserably. As for the review, ''Let's get it on!''

First Impressions:

Wow. The graphics certainly jump out at you from the start, and they are impressive throughout your entire time spent playing on the game. The controls were extremely reminiscent of Victorious Boxers, and this had raised my hopes for this game. However, its unable to capture the precision of the aforementioned game. And the controls not only failed to be responsive, but the gameplay itself is horrendous. After about half hour with this game, I started to get frustrated.

Graphics:

As I had mentioned, the graphics are very crisp and clear, and the real boxers found within its roster are near exact replicas of their real selves.
However, except for the quality of the skins on the models, that's where the similarities end. Boxers all move about the ring exactly as Muhammad Ali, and although this is a minor complaint at first, it gets tiresome to see how lazy the developers were, especially when Butterbean is shuffling around the ring like a ten year old girl scout. I don't mean that Muhammad Ali was a girl scout, but due to the physics of this engine, everyone's about as light as one.
Punches, which should be a main focus of attention for graphics, have been animated decent for the most part, exception being with the numerous ''special punches'', if you may, which are indeed special, to say the least.
Anyone with a minute knowledge of the sport, should know that shoulders are to remain loose during a punch. A lot of these special moves and punches have animations where the shoulders tense up more than a fat man sitting down on a broomstick, point up. Most moves fail to emulate any depiction of force behind the punch, and the footwork is rather lousy, if I do say so myself.

Sound:

Okay, so while the graphics provide quite a mouthful of eye candy, the animations fail to impress. Moving on to the sound, I was hoping for something to redeem the game with.
Unless you're a thug living in the ghetto, you will simply laugh at the sounds present within the game. Most punches are accompanied by a gentle slapping noise, and even a giant haymaker from the depths of left field traveling at the speed of light to connect with a face as bare as a baby's ass, you're still only going to hear that oh so pleasant slapping sound.
If you do, however, manage to achieve scoring a painful knockdown, you'll hear an extremely ghetto gunshot, that makes you want to expect a drive-by, and not exactly a killer punch from an expert boxer. I thought this was supposed to be boxing?
Music, as expected, is chock full of rap. Not that I don't like rap, I simply hate it, so i'm slightly biased there. And to stereotype fans of boxing as fans of rap, is pretty damn close minded of the developers.
Commentary is equally bland, as the ref will constantly yell at me, reminding me to watch the low blows, as I punch him in the forehead. Nice.

Control:

Alright, so the control scheme is a direct rip of Victorious Boxers. So does that mean the exact control follows over? Nope, only the basic movement. Moving the analog slightly in a direction will allow your boxer to weave and sway in the said direction.
Giving your analog stick a more firm press, will result in a step. Doing this, it gives you a lot more fluidity when it comes to dodging attacks, which is a nice thing.
However, unlike Victorious Boxers, you are unable to get different punches, depending on which way you sway, sans ducking.
The punch buttons are responsive, so no complaints there.
The whole duck/sway thing is a little out of whack, though, so it loses points from an already low score.

Gameplay:

Oh boy, here's where it gets good. Like gravy on a biscuit, or something to that extent.
This my friends, (or enemies, depending on how ghetto you are) is where the game blows more chunks than an exploding chunky soup factory. Which is a lot.
Combo-ability is something that I'm sure people like to be easy. With KK2002, they redefine the word.
Want to throw a two right crosses within a half second? You can do it! Or how about throw a flurry of jabs so fast (by anyone, mind you) that your opponent doesnt get the chance to move until you stop? Butterbean has never looked so good with this system.
So, we've covered the combo system of the game, so lets move on to the physics. Fights usually tend to have a total of 2000 punches by the end of 12 rounds. That is a LOT, I repeat LOT Of punches to have. And with all those punches, fights last a very long time. I have found that the best strategy to win with, is to simply slide up to your opponents face, and mash buttons like there's no tomorrow, run away for a second, and then rinse, repeat. Instant victory in a cup.
Another thing, is that while your character has a limited amount of stamina, this is never reflected upon your ability. You can have fought for 11 rounds, been knocked down five times, thrown 2000 punches, and you're still frisky like a 16 year old before his first lay. True, it might be an arcade style play, but with the ability to have your health and stamina set to invisible by default, you really don't know how you're doing, since your character wont act any different.
The game also boasts a ''no health bar'' style of gameplay. What I guess this means, is that depending on how good you do, the better you'll mess up your opponent, right?
Wrong! The game does have health bars, you just cant see them. So, even if you set up the perfect attack, and hit then while they're wide open, they wont fall down from the attack, they wont reel back, and heck, the punch will sound like a slap, no matter how perfect it was. See sound department.
Yet another thing that really blows, is the sad fact that this game is horridly unbalanced. It's hard to have a good fight, without getting slaughtered for most of the match, or having it be a complete breeze. I suppose they really want you to have Ali vs Ali matches.
Create A Character has to be one of the most bland creating options I've ever seen. You get to choose from a whole NINE body types. Want a bald headed guy without a beard? Nope, you gotta pick the bald headed guy with the goatee. Want a guy with a different shade of skin? Sorry, almost all of them are tanned. I'm not racist at all, and I want that to be understood. I'm just saying that there are a lot more than 9 stereotypes to boxing. And the entire ''career'' mode is equally unsatisfying.

Closing Thoughts:

I'll make this short and sweet, since I've spent more time on this review than I have trying to enjoy the game. If you're an idiot, or simply don't know much about boxing, you'll enjoy this because its quick and easy fun. If you like the whole ''ghetto'' theme, the music and sound effects will really draw you in.
If you are a professional boxer, or someone who really appreciates the intricacies looking for a game to play in your spare time, look elsewhere, preferably towards Victorious Boxers. It may not be that pretty as this game, but just as this game has shown us... boxing isn't meant to be a pretty thing.

Rating:   1.0 - Terrible

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