You don’t need to be a sports fan to enjoy boxing games. You only need to be a Rocky fan. Stallone gave everybody a point of reference for fisticuffs in the rings. I guess Scorsese and De Niro helped too. Or maybe there’s just something inside all of us that likes to wail on other dudes. We checked out the latest boxing game that lets you do just that.
Real Boxing is a decent boxing game. You’ll have fun playing it, but when there’s a game like Fight Night Champion out there, I couldn’t really recommend spending your time or money on this one. It’s not like boxing games get old. It's just that you can keep playing Fight Night against different opponents and it’s still the better game.
The controls for Real Boxing are similar to the iOS incarnation of Fight Night. You tap the screen for different combos. A tap is a jab, a swipe left or right is a hook and a swipe up is an uppercut. Left side of the screen controls your left arm, right side, right arm, you get the gist. There are on screen buttons for block or dodge, but you can’t dance around the ring. The game handles movement for you and keeps you pretty close to your opponent.
Or, you can try motion controls but honestly how are you supposed to do that with a portable device you have to hold in one hand? It’s supposed to detect your jabs with the camera, so do you want to stand there holding your phone in one hand while you punch with the other, and then switching hands? It’s a dumb idea, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone that it doesn’t actually work. Maybe I’m just impatient, I only tried swatting the air 15 times before I gave up.
By now, on screen controls and fighting game combo systems feel natural, so the tap control part of the game is fine. You can have fun dodging blows and countering with devastating hooks and uppercuts, but it’s stagnant. It’s way too easy to see the other guy’s fist coming, plus Real Boxing seems devoted to this formula of dodge, dodge, punch, block, block, punch. It becomes repetitive, though if you’re impatient, you can just start jabbing and still come out ahead.
Real boxing adds a grappling element, where you can tie yourself up with the other boxer to restore some of your energy. That’s a nice touch, as the tie-ups usually happen randomly in other boxing games, and don’t really affect your health. It doesn’t make up for the limited ring movement and transparent fighting mechanics though. You get a replay after each knockdown, and it shows you like 90 different angles. I’m exaggerating, but still, anything more than three replays is too much and it’s way more than three.
The graphics are great. It pretty much looks like real people with articulated muscles, but I’d rather have slightly more complex game with simpler graphics than a graphically rich game that’s stale. It takes way too long to load too, so that’s not worth it for the graphics. Also, Real Boxing uses made up fighters. I know EA has the license on the real guys, but maybe you shouldn’t have called it Real Boxing then. I know, Real Boxing refers to the "real" motion controls, but that didn't really work out. The announcers sound more generic than the ones in Fight Night, especially since they’re not saying the name of the fake boxers.
There are mini-games in Real Boxing too, including three training games you can use to improve your stats in career mode. Strength training is the most fun, because you’re hitting a heavy bag with the same fight system as the main game. Stamina and speed training are tapping games where you tap the screen when the mark is in the right zone. You can also spend your fight winnings on improving your stats too.
I didn’t mind playing Real Boxing. I wasn’t bored and I could get hooked on a career. It’s just that I remember Fight Night Champion and this reminded me how much more I want to play that. Don’t go looking for me online for a multiplayer bout. Let’s just meet up in Fight Night Champion instead.