PS2 Reviews

Victorious Boxers: Ippo’s Road to Glory Review

Tape up your hands, pull on your gloves and get ready to go toe-to-toe with some of the most accomplished pugilists you’re ever likely to meet. Victorious Boxers combines instant playability and a degree of depth and realism not seen in any other PS2 boxing title to date. Victorious Boxers uses a state-of-the art graphics engine to get you as close to the ring as you’ll ever want to get. Progress through the amateur and Pro ranks with the help of your personal trainer. Listen to him, study your opponents fighting tactics and strategies and head into the ring to see if you can out swing and out think him. The only thing missing is the feeling of being actually thumped on the nose!

Victorious Boxers is a new boxing game that skirts the edges of greatness, but ends up one victory short of a total knockout. While the game has some of the more intuitive controls that boxing fans will appreciate, those same controls are also the final blow in the game. Victorious Boxers is a stripped down heavyweight looking for glory – whether or not they achieve that with you depends on how much patience you have.

Glove the One You’re With

In Ready 2 Rumble for the PS2, you were used to seeing cartoony, but well-defined characters slugging it out unrealistically. In Knockout Kings 2001, you saw realistic looking fighters slugging it our realistically. In Victorious Boxers, you’ll see ill-defined characters slugging it out – uncontrollably. The graphics lean towards the Japanese anime style (the game is based on a Japanese manga) of wide-eyed, tousle-haired expressionless faces. Even the arenas are uninspired, with cutouts of fans populating the stands. The only bright spots in the graphics are the varied and lethal fighting styles of individual boxers (many of which also look alike) – you’ll see fighters with reach and fighters with stamina and fighters with both.

The sounds fare even worse than the graphics. To say the audio outing is sparse is putting it lightly. You’ll hear the VB theme in every round, and some muted punches over the crowd sounds. The crowd sounds infinitely pleased with every match, never responding differently when the underdog comes up, or shouting encouragement or taunts at the fighters. Even your corner man is silent, with word balloons conveying his messages to you. The announcer sounds as if he wish he were somewhere else – his tired “Stop” when each match ends conveys our frustration.

Bob and Weave and Stop

So with so-so graphics and no sound to speak of, it’s left to the game’s controls to pick up the slack. The controls are very realistic, with the left analog stick doing the king’s share of the work. The analog stick lets you bob, weave, duck, and sway – and you can even come out of these defensive moves with a punch or two. Not a flurry, mind you – anything more than a one-two combination is too much to hope for. Instead, you have to really box – bob and weave and pick your punches carefully. Because there is no health indicator, you have to depend on the reaction of your opponent to determine how well you’re doing, which means that if he staggers, you should wade in and take him down. But the AI of the opponents is cheap – they seem to connect all the time, while you have to really work for you victory. There’s also the annoying way that your fighter is always to the left or right of the opponent. While you jockey to get back in front of the fighter, they unleash a flurry of punches – they get the flurry, you get knocked down.

Victorious Boxers tried hard to be an excellent boxing game, and they score major points on style, definition, and realism in movement. But points get taken away for the sparse look and sound effects. The unanimous decision on the controls will be that they have major learning curve attached to them, and only those boxing hardcore gamers with the heart of gold and the patience of a saint will be able to secure a boxing title in this game.

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