Knockout Kings 2002 Review
Knockout Kings 2002 is the first version of the game for the Xbox, and it's certainly the best of the series to date.
Knockout Kings 2002 is the first version of the game for the Xbox, and it's certainly the best of the series to date. The Xbox and PlayStation 2 versions are virtually identical; both versions deliver the same thrill of being in the ring, with responsive controls, great graphics, and a control scheme that offers players a phenomenal amount of control over the fighters in the game.
Knockout Kings 2002 includes 45 fighters from the lightweight, middleweight, and heavyweight divisions. Twenty-one are real fighters from the past and present, including the likes of "The Golden Boy" Oscar de la Hoya, Evander "The Real Deal" Holyfield, Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins, and Felix Trinidad. The other 24 fighters are fictional fighters you can play as or against. You can also create your own fighter in the game's 15-bout career mode. In all, the game features three modes of play: exhibition, career, and tournament.
The game simply strikes a very good balance between being an authentic boxing experience and being a very intuitive and fun game to play. The game's authenticity includes the real fighters and venues, and the fighters deliver believable performances that are comparable to those in real life. Sure, you won't see Felix Trinidad throw 1,700 punches in a real fight, but the way he bounces around the ring and the damage his punches inflict seem just about right. The gameplay is intuitive, thanks to a great control scheme that is very similar to that of Midway's Ready 2 Rumble Boxing series and Empire's Victorious Boxers. The buttons on the face of the controller deliver your fighter's punches, which include left jab, right cross, left hook, and right hook. The left analog stick controls not only your fighter's movement in the ring, but also the position of his upper body. For example, if you slightly push your analog stick forward, your fighter will duck down. If you push the analog stick slightly to the left, your fighter will lean his upper torso to the left. Pushing the left analog stick all the way in any direction causes your fighter to move in that direction. The great thing about this control scheme is that it actually lets you bob and weave without giving up any mobility or the ability to fire off punches. Another benefit of this control scheme is that you can naturally duck down and throw punches to your opponent's body by using the same buttons you use to throw punches to their head. Even blocking punches takes skill, since you have to push the block button once for every punch you want to block, which forces you to become skilled at timing your opponent's punches and combinations.
The opponent AI in the game is quite good. The game features several levels of difficulty, ranging from extremely easy to ultrahard. The difference between the settings is simply the number of punches and combinations that the computer throws and blocks. On the easy setting, your opponent is little more than a moving punching bag. On the hardest setting, he blocks and evades a good majority of the punches you throw. Plus, he throws a heavy dose of well-placed punches and combinations. The game's pro setting is the sweet spot, since the fighters throw a reasonable number of punches and don't stop everything you send their way. The fighters pick up on your habits as the rounds progress, which means while you may get away with a lot of body punches in the first round, your opponent will start to throw uppercuts to counter them in the second. The fighters even try to stay away when you have them in trouble, which is important since the game doesn't show any health and stamina meters by default, making it important to watch your opponent's demeanor.