PALGN recently had a chance to go hands on with the Xbox 360 version of Don King Presents: Prizefighter, which is in development at Venom Games, the team who brought us the Rocky series. Prizefighter is 2K Sports newest sports franchise and is clearly 2K's answer to the current king of boxing games, EA Sports Fight Night.
The first thing we noticed while hands on with the game was that Prizefighter has a control setup that is sure to confuse veteran Fight Night players. Instead of using the right analog stick to control the various attacks on offer, you now use the X, A, B and Y buttons instead, with the right analog stick controlling the defence. Admittedly, it is initially a little off putting, however once you are accustomed to the controls, you feel right at home and, arguably, more comfortable as using the buttons felt far more responsive when on the attack.
There are also some modifiers put into the mix as well. Holding down the right trigger and pressing any of the attack buttons will result in your character punching their opponent dead set into their chest. There are several different modifiers that can be used, but our favourite were the signature hits. Once you've filled your adrenaline bar up completely you hold the left bumper down and press any of the main buttons and your boxer will launch a killer punch that is difficult to block. There are several signature hits and each character in the game has their own signature hit.
Aside from the main boxing aspect of the game, Prizefighter also has a training mode, which allows the player to increase the stats of their career mode character through several mini-games. These mini-games range from Guitar Hero-esque style button timings where you have to hit the right button on screen at the right times to make your character skip the rope quicker, to rapid button presses in order to make your character run faster in Shuttle Running. All of these different training modes aid in increasing a certain stat in your character, and are suprisingly fun and addictive.
Interestingly enough however, excessive training can actually be a detriment in Prizefighter's career mode, which seems to be the focal point of the game. The Career Mode follows your character through a documentary-like story, where certain boxers are interviewed and talk about the progression of your character and whatnot. It's not only boxers however, as the game also introduces girlfriends and even former girlfriends, so the career mode has a certain level of immersion. As you progress, you must train in order to become stronger in attributes, however you also have to balance this aspect with media coverage, which includes the dating of girls and such. It's not essential that you do this, as you can train all you want and completely ignore the media, or the other way around, but it's certainly an interesting feature and mixes things up in the single player mode.
Technically the game holds up fairly well on the Xbox 360. Comparitively to Fight Night Round 3, character models didn't seem to be as sharp or detailed, but the overall consistency of everything seems to outdo Fight Night, as everything has a similar level of detail and nothing feels out of place. Animations are fairly good and thankfully look more fluid and less robotic. It's certainly not a show stopper, but Prizefighter looks like it will get the job done. The soundtrack however looks like it is going to shine though, as there's a large selection of musicians to pick from, and you can even customize what song you'd want played for your character when he enters the ring. It's a small, but decent addition to the game which gives you just that little bit more customizability in creating your own character.
We also had a chance to speak to executive producer Matthew Seymour about Don King Presents Prizefighter.
PALGN: Thank you for speaking to PALGN.
Matthew Seymour: You're welcome!
PALGN: To begin with, what do you think of your competitor's franchise, Fight Night and how do you feel you have improved upon the franchise with your own game?
MS: Well I think EA have done a fantastic job with Fight Night. Visually it looks stunning and there are lots of things they've done right. However, I always felt that their single player experience was a little shallow, and Fight Night always felt more for hardcore gamers in that respect. With Prizefighter, we're trying to broaden that audience to reach a hardcore and casual market, and that's why we've added so much into our Career Mode, which plays like a documentary and really puts you into the game. We've also done a lot of things in Multiplayer that we feel has bested EAs franchise, and this in turn will help capture the more casual market.
PALGN: Will we ever see this game on the PlayStation 3 for Sony fans to enjoy?
MS: It's definitely on the cards, however as of this moment it's only to be released on Xbox 360, Wii and the DS. We initially started work on the Xbox 360 first and our PS3 devkits came too late down the track for us to begin work. However it's certainly something that is on the cards and is possible in the future.
PALGN: Will the Wii version coming later on in the year support full online play?
MS: I cannot confirm whether it will be part of the game or not at this point in time.
PALGN: How many hours of gameplay could we expect from the Single Player mode, and will there be special extras to unlock in order to sustain a good amount of replayability?
MS: For a casual gamer the main Career Mode would last about 15 to 20 hours, assuming you're a decent player. As you progress you'll unlock 'classic' matches where you'll be able to fight as famous boxers from years ago and have those dream matches. Also depending on how well you do in the Career Mode, you may unlock different matches and other things which I won't delve into. So for the hardcore gamers and completionist, you could be playing this game for a good while before you unlock absolutely everything.
PALGN: And finally, will Don King make an appearance in-game?
MS: Yes, definitely! His hair took an entire team of guys to recreate! [laughs]
PALGN: Thank you very much for your time!
MS: Was a pleasure.
PALGN would like to thank Matthew Seymour for his time for the interview, as well as Snezana at 2K for setting up the event.