Title Defense Preview

Currently slated for release on the PlayStation 2, Dreamcast, and PC platforms, Title Defense hopes to break the traditional mode with plenty of elements from both arcade and simulation boxing games.

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Boxing games have always fallen into two distinct categories. There's the over-the-top arcade-style boxing games like Midway's Ready 2 Rumble, and then there's the true-to-life simulation-style boxing games like EA's Knockout Kings. But the Climax Group, a developer located in Brighton, is trying to blur the line between simulation and arcade boxers with its latest game, Title Defense. Currently slated for release on the PlayStation 2, Dreamcast, and PC platforms, Title Defense hopes to break the traditional mode with plenty of elements from both styles of game.

The arcade mode pretty much sticks to the usual pattern. Choose your boxer and your ring, and off you go into a straightforward and frenetic boxing match. In order to improve your skills, you can take a sparring partner into the ring and practice with him or her in a training fight.

The first interesting game mode is the ghost mode. The ghost mode lets you train against a sillohuetted boxer, and it gives you much the same results as if you were watching another fighter's film. You can train your boxer to find the ghost's weaknesses and overcome the ghost's strengths. This mode allows for a wide range of training possibilities. There's also a championship mode where you have to climb the ranks in order to take the championship title. Like in any other boxing game, you'll have to constantly improve your skills and your understanding of your boxer to have any chance of beating the higher level boxers. The game also features a management mode in which you train and coach a boxer instead of actually fighting for him. In this mode, you can actually recruit several boxers and manage a whole stable of careers by choosing their opponents and developing their personal attributes and special skills.

From a graphical standpoint, the game already has a number of impressive features. Each of the boxer models consists of a stunning 5,000 polygons, and each polygon's texture can be changed to simulate realistic injuries. Every part of the boxer can get bloodied, bruised, and even sweaty - all of which really looks fantastic. All of the movements in the game have been motion-captured by actual boxers, and the animations are clean and realistic. The game also has a slew of several different camera angles; from TV-broadcasting-style cameras to ringside cameras to first-person view, you can watch your fight from just about any angle you could dream of. Another impressive detail that's new to the boxing game genre is the presence of a referee that actually enforces boxing rules and breaks up clinching boxers. There aren't a whole lot of details about the sound just yet, but in an early build, the crowd cheers and whistles.

The controls are fairly intuitive and easy to master. You'll play the game with the analog stick and use movement and button patterns to create boxing combos. The game has plenty of built-in punching combinations, but it also allows you to create your own on the fly.

With at least two other boxing games in development for both the PS2 and the Dreamcast, Title Defense has plenty of competition. If the AI is as good as the graphics and controls, Title Defense might have merit. The game is still early in the development process, and Climax has announced no solid release date for the games. Watch this space for further updates and details as they appear.

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