By Contributing Writer Jimmy Payne Rating: Good I'm not a huge fan of video game boxing, but ever since I played Mike Tysonís Punch-Out for the NES years ago, I canít help but be interested in every good looking boxing game I come across. Unfortunately, the last awesome boxing game I played was Super Punch-Out (the almost-as-good-as- the-original sequel to Punch-Out) and I was really hoping that Contender would end the terrible streak of average boxing games. Contender isn't a bad game by any means, but it's not exactly a must-have game, either. When I first turned on the game, I was greeted with a weak looking intro sequence (which isn't unusual nowadays). After watching this pointless sequence (with really crappy music, I might add), I moved on and found myself staring at the group of characters to choose from. One thing that took me by surprise was the fact that it looks exactly like the character select screen in Tekken 2. Hmm... coincidence? I think not. A lot of things in Contender are stolen (or borrowed if youíre one of those "let's not point the finger" people) from other games. For example, the replay interface is exactly like Madden NFL '99's and the camera angles are very similar to Knockout Kings. There really isnít anything too bad about this because most of the stolen stuff was stolen from good games, but it irks me that the makers of Contender couldnít come up with their own freakin' content. Something that might deceive a lot of people about Contender are the commercials. The commercials depict a regular area with people bustling back and forth minding their own business. Suddenly a bell rings somewhere and two people start swinging at each other like there's no tomorrow. I could see how this could deceive some people into thinking that the game might feature out-of-the-ring fights, but unfortunately it doesn't. Now, what about the gameplay? Well, if I had to sum it up in one word Iíd have to say "slow." After throwing a punch you want so badly to follow it up with an uppercut or some other combo, but it takes forever to re-position yourself. Furthermore, your opponent always seems to be much faster. Switching to the first-person camera angle is even more ridiculous. While youíre throwing about one or two punches every five seconds at this angle, your opponent is clocking you in the face like nobody's business, which builds up to a very frustrating experience. To its credit, the (fictional) characters in Contender are very balanced. All of the boxers have different attributes which make up for weaknesses and rely on their strengths. For instance, one character might be very slow, but he makes up for it in brute strength and stamina or vice versa. This is very cool to say the least because youíre forced to pick a character that suits you, not one that dominates over all the others. I think this is one thing that is missing from a lot of fighting/boxing games. Contender has a very realistic feel, while still retaining a "letís go out and kick some butt" attitude. What I mean by this is that itís more of an arcade-style boxing game then it is a life-like one (like Knockout Kings) but it doesnít come off as being for casual gamers, either. The slowness does get to me, but if youíve ever watched boxing on TV then you know that it's slow at times and is usually leading up to a climatic ending. Contender pulls this off very well. You have to work hard to weaken your opponent over the 12-round fight and the 12th round is always very intense. If you pull it off and win the match it can be very satisfying. The only downside is you have to go through 12 rounds (if you donít get your butt kicked by the CPU sooner) and it takes up a lot of time. It can be extremely frustrating to lose after spending 30 minutes trying to beat one opponent. Switching gears, something else thatís cool are the judge's scorecards. They are so accurate that itís almost scary. And unlike real life boxing, if one boxer completely dominates the other throughout the fight, the judge will give that boxer the victory instead of calling it a draw... Contender is a worthwhile weekend rental that any boxing game fan should take a look at. If youíre aching for some big punches, some minor strategy, and an all-around decent boxing game, check out Contender.
Back To Reviews
© 2001 email@example.com