Mike Tyson Heavyweight Boxing Preview

We check out CodeMasters' upcoming boxing game for the PlayStation 2.

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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 the first Mike Tyson boxing game for the Xbox. The game is aiming to balance sim and arcade elements to provide a unique boxing experience on the PlayStation 2.

The sights and sounds of boxing are extremely well recreated in Mike Tyson Heavyweight Boxing.
The sights and sounds of boxing are extremely well recreated in Mike Tyson Heavyweight Boxing.

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. A big part of the single-player games involves unlocking fighters, signature punches, tattoos, shorts, new combinations, and arenas. You start in the bronze division with a limited number of fighters to choose from and a limited number of moves they can perform. 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 on traditional modes such as time attack and survival. The game also features a create-a-fighter mode, which is actually quite impressive, and you can change your fighter's appearance quite a bit. The cool thing is that the fighter you make will have attributes based on the type of body you build him. For instance, if you make a superbig muscle guy, he'll be powerful but slow.

16 real-life boxers are included in the game, including some from locales as exotic as Canada.
16 real-life boxers are included in the game, including some from locales as exotic as Canada.

The game is far from a boxing simulation and is more of a hybrid of a fighting game and a boxing 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 though, 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 of the blocking. The bulk of the actual gameplay will consist of blocking and slipping your opponent's punches then 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 while you're trying to do so.

Much like in a fighting game, different input combinations will yield different punch combos.
Much like in a fighting game, different input combinations will yield different punch combos.

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 some animations still had to be tweaked. The game also has some nice smoke effects for when your fighter's gloves begin to smolder. The frame rate in the PlayStation 2 game was a bit higher than that in the Xbox version. However, the Xbox game's visual quality was more refined and didn't have the aliasing issues seen in the PS2 game. In spite of the slight graphical issues, the PlayStation 2 game still looked quite good.

The sound and music in the game are all original. The voices used in the game aren't those of the athletes, but rather of voice actors. The game features commentary from Showtime's own Bobby Chez, who delivers his totally unique style of commentary alongside one of England's announcers.

While we'll have to wait until we get our hands on a final build of the game before commenting further, it's fair to say 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 this May.

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