Love him or hate him, Mike Tyson is still one of the biggest, most recognizable sports figures in the world. Codemasters is hard at work trying to finish up work on the first Mike Tyson boxing title for the Xbox. The game is aiming to balance sim and arcade elements to provide a unique boxing experience on the Xbox.
The game features 16 real-world heavyweight boxers, including the likes of Frans Botha, David Tua, Michael Grant, and, of course, Mike Tyson. You can play as or against any of the fighters in the game once you've unlocked them. Unlocking fighters, signature punches, tattoos, shorts, new combinations, and arenas is a big part of the single-player game. You start in the bronze division with a limited number of fighters to choose from--fighters with a limited number of moves. Once you beat that division, you move up to silver and so on. You can even open up other game modes such as Tyson's challenge, speed boxing, and undisputed champ, which are basically variations of traditional modes such as time attack and survival. The game also features a create-a-fighter mode that is actually quite impressive. You can change a lot in terms of your fighter's appearance. The cool thing is that the fighter you make will have attributes based on the type of body you build for him. For instance, if you make a superbig muscle guy, he'll be powerful but slow.
The game is far from a boxing simulation and is more of a hybrid of a fighting game, since the game comes complete with intricate button combinations that deliver devastating combinations. The buttons on the face of the controller deliver your jabs, right crosses, hooks, and uppercuts. You can charge your regular punches with added power by simply holding the button down a bit longer. If you hold the button for more than a couple of seconds, the punch will overcharge and simply won't be thrown. Trigger buttons handle body shots, slipping punches, and illegal moves, such as elbows and low blows. The left analog stick controls your fighter's movement in the ring while the right stick handles all the blocking. The bulk of the actual gameplay will consist of blocking and slipping your opponents' punches instead of countering with your own.
One rather interesting aspect of the game is that when you're knocked down, you don't simply mash on the button as fast as you can to get up. Instead, you must mash on the correct button as fast as you can, since the game randomly changes the button you must press to get up.
In the graphics department, Mike Tyson Heavyweight Boxing is certainly coming along well. The models of the fighters look fairly accurate in comparison with their real-life counterparts. The game features some decent animation, although in its current state, it was apparent that some animations still had to be tweaked. The game also has some nice smoke effects, which accompany your fighter's gloves when they begin to smolder.
The sound and music in the game are all original. You'll find a solid assortment of grunts from the boxers and dynamic crowd noises. The game features commentary from Showtime's own Bobby Chez, who delivers his totally unique style of commentary alongside one of England's top sports announcers.
While we'll have to wait till we get our hands on a final build of the game before commenting further, it's fair to say that the game is certainly coming together quite well. The graphics look good, and the gameplay system looks interesting. We'll see how the game turns out when it ships in May.