Knockout League PlayStation VR Review

Publisher: Grab Games  Developer: Grab Games  Genre: Action/Sports  Players: 1  

Age Rating: 12+  Other console/handheld formats: N/A

Knockout League is the first boxing game to be released for the PlayStation VR, but in no way is it the first boxing simulator. Yes, Knockout League isn’t really a simulator at all and has much more in common with the likes of Nintendo’s Punchout series, and with that said if you are waiting for a more realistic game that simulates boxing, then you’ll just have to hope that one will come along soon, but in the meantime you could always give Knockout League a try. This is one fine game in its own right.

Like Punchout, Knockout League is a cartoon-style boxing game, and it’s all about studying the attack patterns of your opponents, and looking for openings in order to attack them, or making your own. This is all part of the fun, and it makes the game feel less like a boxing game and somewhat more like a puzzle game as you find yourself judging the best way to deal with your opponent.

The cartoon violence is bloodless but still hard-hitting.

The game has a useful tutorial which talks you through the different punching and dodging mechanics. It’s here where you also learn that the game has more depth than you might expect, with well timed blocks giving you the chance to go on the attack. Health can also be replenished if you do well enough, and the game also has a momentum system, and when things really are going your way your gloves will glow yellow, leading to even stronger punches.

In the main mode, you take on nine distinct opponents, and you must knock each of them down three times in order to beat them. Each time you knock an opponent down, he or she will get back to their feet with some new attacks and patterns for you to learn, which should certainly all be enough to hold your attention during each fight. Your opponent’s styles are all so different from one another that each and every match against a new opponent feels completely fresh. You start off against rather ordinary looking pugilists, but they soon start becoming all the more outlandish, and finding out who you are up against next is also part of the fun. With opponents introduced by attractive cartoon sequences that also reveals their back stories, this just adds to the personality of the game.

Speaking of personality, Knockout League has it in spades. The cartoon-style boxers look fantastic when you are faced against them in the PSVR headset, and their over the top designs are memorable. This is thanks in part to how very expressive that each of the characters are, and when they leave themselves open to attack you’ll know by their stunned expressions as well as vocal cues. Your cartoon opponents are also very well animated, and their individual animations really do set them apart from one another.

Some may find that the game is a little too much about trial and error, as you really do have to take on some of your opponents multiple times to understand how you should tackle them, but it’s also very satisfying in the way that it means that this is a thinking man’s boxing game.

Believe it or not, this octopus guy really is one of your opponents.

Other than the main mode, there’s also a training mode. The best mode here is Reflex Alley in which colour coordinated objects are fired at you, and your task is to punch, block and dodge them. Like much of the rest of the game, it’s a mode that will cause you to break a sweat, and it also has return appeal in the way that you’ll likely want to come back and better any previous scores. The training options also include Speed Bag and Focus Mitts, with the former allowing you to of course batter a speed bag, while the latter has you being instructed as to what type of punch to throw at your sparring partner, and also dodging his attacks.

Knockout League doesn’t have any multiplayer options to speak of, which does seem strange for a boxing game, but it makes a lot more sense when you realise what kind of boxing game it is. As the game is all about patterns and looking for openings, this would very likely be difficult to translate to multiplayer.

Knockout League might not be the VR boxing game that some have been waiting for, but it’s definitely a very well made game all the same, and one that requires you to meticulously study it to get the most out of it. The game is trial and error in nature and might cause your body to get sore and your PSVR to get soaked in sweat, but there’s much satisfaction to be found in this high quality cartoon boxing game.