Real Boxing review for PS Vita

Platform: PlayStation Vita
Publisher: Vivid Games
Developer: Vivid Games
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-2
Online: Yes

If I didn’t know that Real Boxing had gotten its start in the mobile realm, I probably would never have guessed it.

This is, of course, both a blessing and a curse for the game. On the plus side, it’s a statement about how great Real Boxing looks, and how surprisingly deep it is. The former is a testament to the power of the Unreal Engine on the PS Vita; between this, Jacob Jones and Smarts As…, I don’t know why more developers don’t make use of that engine, because the end results are generally excellent. (Heck, even that awful Doctor Who game looked pretty good, and it was a terrible game otherwise.)

Real Boxing 1

Likewise, Real Boxing has much more content than you’d think from first glance. While the (sadly unlicensed) career mode only has three belts to fight for, it doesn’t take long before the difficulty level in them ramps up, and you’re forced to figure out the strengths and weaknesses of each opposing boxer. On top of that, the game has online tournaments, which means that even after you’ve finished up your career, there’s still plenty to do — though, admittedly, hoping for a long-lasting online community for a download-only game may be a little foolhardy. Nonetheless, it is there, and, for the time being at least, it adds to the overall package.

All that said, however, there’s a downside to not coming off as a quick mobile refugee cash-in: it means that a couple of things that you might forgive or ignore on an iOS game seem like a much bigger deal. I mean, repetitive announcers for a $3.99 game? Whatever, it’s just impressive they included them. Repetitive announcers on a $9.99 game? Huge annoyance after the second or third bout. Similarly, imprecise controls are easy to overlook if you’re just flicking your fingers around on a screen; when you have actual buttons at your disposal, by contrast, it’s much harder to think that the game simply didn’t register the odd punch here and there. Sure, punches are effective about 90% of the time, but when you have buttons and you’re paying 2.5 times more than you are on your iDevice, that’s harder to accept.

Real Boxing 2

Still, it’s hard to get too worked up about minor annoyances like those. All things considered, Real Boxing is probably the best boxing game on the Vita — a title that loses some of its lustre when you consider it’s also the only boxing game on the Vita. Nonetheless, it’s still a fun, well-made game that will meet the needs of any boxing enthusiasts who are in the mood for a little on-the-go pugilism.

Grade: B