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Knockout Kings 2002

Developer: EA Sports | Publisher: Electronic Arts
Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Release Date: 03/04/02 | Genre: Sports

If there is one sport that would just simply be better to play on a video game rather than ever to attempt it in person, it would almost definitely be the sweet science of boxing. Listen, I'm a huge fight fan, but who would want to waste all that time training long hours for weeks and months, just to get in the ring for one night and have your promoter take all of your money after you've put in all the time? And second, who would want to have to stand in a ring and take shots at their own pretty mug? Well, thanks to the folks at EA Sports, makers of the Madden, Tiger Woods, and the hit NHL series, there's no need to get inside the ring because they bring you as close as you would ever want to be.

In the very recent past EA Sports has been criticized for being "too realistic" with their Knockout Kings franchise, some saying that it is more like a simulator then an actual boxing/fighting game. Well, Knockout King 2002 brings us a game that has been promised to be the best of the series. And if the cover of the game has anything to do with the level of gameplay expertise inside, this will truly be "the greatest of all time."

The gameplay for this year's Knockout Kings is unlike any of the previous Knockout King titles. Now, don't get me wrong, the objective is still to work over your competition and try to get the KO. But the 2002 title uses a different feel than we have been previously allowed to experience in this series. It offers an all-new game engine that provides the most fluid, responsive boxing action ever seen in any other boxing title.

Imagine, if you will, an arcade feel with a roster of some of the greatest fighters of all time. Whom, do you ask? How about dozens of current and historical greats, including Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Sugar Ray Leonard, Felix Trinidad, Oscar de la Hoya, and many more. But what would be the point of having all these great fighters if you didn't have anywhere to fight? Not to worry as Knockout Kings 2002 offers ten different fight venues including Wembley Arena and my personal favorite, Caesar's Palace!

Another thing that made the previous titles so successful was the opportunity to make your own fighter and have him face the other known greats in the history of boxing. Well, this year's version also permits the same option. The coolest thing about creating your own fighter in this year's game is not only can you pick a very important nickname (like Joe "the KO KID" Smith), but you can also select the style of fighter you want to be. If you always pictured yourself as a slugger with a devastating right hook, you can be that guy. And what good would being able to pick your fighter be without the option to select your own personal taunt? Fear not, because now you may taunt in style with a bunch of choices (You, brain-dead loser! No, that's not one of them, I just always wanted to call somebody that...).

As you can see from the screen shots of this game, Knockout Kings 2002 is a very good-looking game. This is even more true when you get the close-ups or "the dramatic views" when experiencing a knockdown. But let's be honest, the game truly shines when the ring card girls run around your screen! There is nothing like (after a good round of knocking each other around the ring) being rewarded with a hot, very curvy, ring babe!

The game features audio commentary by ESPN's boxing analyst Max Kellerman who is entertaining and very knowledgeable in the game of boxing. His comments are humorous and add a great deal to the game. This, along with the audio of the punches, grunts, groans, and the ref asking you if you know where you are, make for great audio bytes! Also the music in the game fits very nicely!

For me, after playing the series of Knockout Kings over the years, there is one thing I very much miss and that is the ring entrances. The game just doesn't seem the same without them. And, yes, when the game did have them it seemed like they took forever, but without them it just seems like something is missing. And for me personally, being the boxing fan I am, I wish I could see more realistic boxing "sim" features like training, money, managers, rankings, belts, and popularity issues. Now, I realize the previous games had some of these features and folks thought they were "too realistic," but that's what boxing is about (well, and the occasional paying off of the judges!) If you go for this game you will like it. It is a fun, one- or two-person game. And don't misunderstand my wish list for the game. I don't want it to seem like I am picking on it, but I'd just like to see more. Will the average person enjoy the game? Without a doubt! It's rated T for teen by the ERSB for Blood, Mild Lyrics, and violence.

By Chris "Hoss" Neupert - 06/18/02
ESRB Details: Blood, Mild Lyrics, Violence
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Screenshots for Knockout Kings 2002

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