Knockout League Review (HTC Vive)
For the purposes of transparency, this review was created using a code provided by the company or their respective PR company. The use of a review code does not affect my judgement of the game.
When motion gaming first hit the scene back in 2006, we had a flurry of boxing/fighting games which is something VR has been missing. This is where Knockout League has entered the ring, but how does it translate into the medium?
Knockout League does not really come with a story, but the game does introduce each opponent you are going to face. It does this by giving you an animated/comic book style back story and information how they are going to fight – all this narrated by your personal trainer.
The gameplay is really what you are going to expect from a game in this ilk. You are going to use a dodge or block and attack mechanic. This means when first facing your chose opponent you are going to start the match learning their attack pattern, as you only strike them when there is an opening – it not a punch out.
There is sometimes an indicator of the action you are going to have to take, this is done by an outline appearing around your opponent. These are indicated by a red outline which are attacks you will have to dodge, and then a blue outline if you can only use block – luckily these outlines standout enough to notice even in the heat of the moment of the fight. The last part of the fighting mechanic is a risk based attack, your opponent might leave themselves open for an attack as they wind-up to attack you, which is indicated by a white circle. What is the risk you take? If you do not time this perfectly you miss the opportunity and leave yourself open to barrage of attacks – massively reducing your health.
The game offers the incentive to always be on your toes, and to make sure you building a good combination of dodges and blocks. It does this by activating golden gloves, which in turn gives you more points/score for the end of fight ranking and leaderboards and makes you deal more damage.
As previously mentioned you can lose a large number of health if you take a flurry of punches from your opponent. You can keep and eye on your health in the corner left to your opponent, with theirs being in the one on the right. As you go through the rounds not taking damage from getting in your dodges and blocks it will also recover your heath. Again giving you the incentive to learn your opponents attack pattern.
Overall you are going to be taking on nine different boxers, and what I love is they all come with their own move sets and attacks – all that completely match their characteristics. Giving you plenty to learn as you first start with the game, but after a few fights with each of them it gets easy to start hitting decent scores on the leaderboards and ranking.
Does the game offer you more reasons to go back, once you have taken on and mastered each boxer? The answer to that is yes, it does this in multiple ways. Firstly there is a Grudge Match mode, where all the boxers get new moves, increased speed and are stronger. Bringing more into the fights with them and a certain improvement in your reactions as a person.
Secondly it offers mini games, two of which people could jump into for some daily fitness. These modes are;
Reflex Ally, which will colour one glove blue and one red. You will then get coloured objects fired at you, and you have to hit the corresponding coloured object with that glove. It will also throw items at you that you will need to dodge.
The other that could be a little work out is Speed Bags. As you would expect this all about punching a speed bag. Your coach will shout out when you need to do slow down or speed up, and trying to set that pacing really does it take it out of you.
The final mini game being Focus Mitts, which your coach will get you hit the training mitts in set positions. This can come in useful for learning striking positions for the matches, but doesn’t really give you a work out like the others.
All of these mini games come with a number of different difficulty settings as well, allowing you to choose how much of work out you get really – if you want to use it that way.
When it comes to presentation the comes with a very cartoon-esc style, which was really required considering the designs of the boxers you are taking on – which could be a pirate or an octopus. Given the close up nature of the boxers you will be facing, it was important that the game brought with it a well finished look and I am glad to say the team have done that. One thing I really liked about the character design is the opponents eyes will follow you about, which really adds some immersion into the game. Finally the depth is very well done, and although the crowd area is silhouetted and sort of empty looking it’s still tempted to look around after the fight or during knock downs.
Previously I mentioned that the each character has their own unique move sets and this is continued in the designs and personality. This is all brought to life by some fantastic voice acting and animation bring them all to life in their own separate ways.
Add to this the noise it makes as you land a punch after avoiding a number of attacks, and it really does make a thump and makes you want to feel the impact. Unfortunately the little feedback given from the controllers, it takes away some of the immersion they’ve done a great job in bringing.
One area I found they’d made a great use if the sound is how the music picks up in the final round of the match. This really makes for a more intense finish, especially if you have little health left and the opponents speeds and number of attacks have also increased.
When it comes to controls there is nothing to the game at all. Firstly given the dodge mechanic it is essential this game is played standing position and can use room-scale. This is static on the spot game, it does not involve any movement around the ring. So, your only real job is the dodge the attacks or bring the controls up to your face when being defensive, and swing your hands for the punches when on the offensive – there is no pressing of any buttons required. However, be ready to have to switch side to side and some times get down low as you dodge attacks.
When it comes to length the original fights are not going to last you too long, but if you really want to master them and become good within the Grudge Match mode it is going to last you a good while. I would like to mention it offers no multiplayer to extend additional playtime, but I really can not see given the mechanic of the gameplay how multiplayer would work. But, as previously mentioned this could be used for a daily workout, be in completing a number of fights or jumping in to the mini games, if this sounds like you it will last you a good length of time.
Knockout League brings a much wanted boxing simulator to your VR medium across most of the available platforms. The game does not give the option to move around the ring and is static, but the dodging, blocking and punching it is certainly a workout and fun. If you are going to want to master this game, it is going to last you a very long time, but even if not it can be very addicting. However, the presentation is certainly the stand out part of Knockout League due to every character being totally unique in the way they look, act, are animated and voiced, it’s all done really well. Basically if you are looking for fun while having a workout at the same time, certainly take Knockout League into consideration.
Also available on Oculus Rift, Playstation VR and Windows Mixed Reality
Developer: Grab Games