Real Boxing is the latest example of a successful mobile title making the leap across to the handheld generation. Originally on both iOS and Android, Real Boxing made excellent use of the Unreal Engine 3 to create a highly polished touchscreen take on the pugilistic sport.
Boxing in videogames has taken on many varying forms in years gone by; from ultra-realistic licensed titles to the more arcade-style titles where anything goes. Real Boxing aims for a middle ground of both arcade rhythm and the slow pace of a realistic fight.
Before you get to anything resembling a fight, however, you have to create your fighter. Choosing your country, name and then browsing through a reasonably sized database of hairstyles, beards and tattoos, it’s more than possible to create a unique boxer ready to step into the ring.
Each boxer starts out with a very basic skills tree containing three attributes – strength, speed and stamina – which can be built upon and improved by assigning points and spending in-game cash which is earned through winning fights. Additionally, during bouts there are objectives to achieve in order to win bonus cash and points – such as winning in the 2nd round or knocking your opponent out in 30 seconds.
Initially, and in between bouts, training activities such as a skipping rope, speed bag and heavy bag can be utilised to earn perks that can be used in your actual fights. These training activities take the form of both punishing and frustrating mini-games where you need to push the correct button or push the right stick in the correct direction at the right time. Although it can be frustrating it’s crucial to progression. The perks you can earn offset the banality of these training activities and prove to be a very necessary action if you even hope to make your way through the challenging career mode.
The career mode is made up of three individual tournaments, each containing nine matches. Although 27 matches doesn’t sound like a lot it’ll still take plenty of time to complete them due to how challenging they tend to be. There is a high likelihood that you’ll play some of these matches once, twice or even ten times before you actually win the bout, let alone achieving the bonus objectives.
Naturally, with the leap to the handheld console comes a new control system, and Real Boxing is better for it. Where mobile gamers had the touchscreen only, this version’s controls have been mapped to utilise practically all aspects of the Vita’s control systems. The left analogue stick controls movement and the right stick dishes out a range of punches from your right fist in a similar style to EA’s Fight Night. Meanwhile the D Pad is responsible for your left fist whilst the face buttons pull off more specific punches. The controls certainly feel more natural on Sony’s handheld and successfully overcame the burden of clutter the mobile version suffered with.
The left trigger is your modifier between head and body punches whilst holding the right trigger controls your guard. Tapping the right trigger, however, activates the dodge function which – when timed correctly – not only dodges your opponent’s swing put also sets them up for a heavy counter punch; this is the key aspect of Real Boxing.
There are no fast paced battles in Real Boxing; every match is about being slow and methodical, watching your opponent’s movements, countering, and timing your own attacks to grind down your opponent’s energy whilst protecting your own.
The tactics laden, slow-paced bouts are extremely compelling and once you remove yourself from an arcade-style philosophy and accept that defence is your best form of attack then it’s hard to deny how enjoyable and rewarding Real Boxing can be. And once you win a fight, that satisfaction of learning the nuisances will simply have you hooked.
MLG Rating: 8/10 Format: PlayStation Vita Release Date: 17/09/2013
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of Real Boxing for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of 5 days on a PlayStation Vita. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.