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A.P.I Review: Knockout Kings
Developer: EA Sports OPTIONS: S.SHOT
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: Electronic Arts 1-2 Player
Game Type: Boxing Memory Card
Review Date: January 1999 Dual Shock Compatible

Setting the Scene

Many a debate has raged over the years as to who is the greatest boxing champion of all time. Would the toughness of Joe Louis have been enough to help him survive the speed of Muhammad Ali? Would Rocky Marciano have been able to get past Larry Holmes' jab to work the body as only "The Rock" could?

I recall back in the seventies when some boffin actually programmed a computer with the attributes of Muhammad Ali and Rocky Marciano. Not only was their entire boxing history fed into this gigantic crate of electronic gadgetry, but info was input concerning their diet, hobbies, likes and dislikes... The computers version of the fight was then screened on TV to the viewing millions. It was a total farce to watch. I think the outcome was a draw. Huh, even the most accurate computer in the world couldn't settle that one.

Two decades later and the disputation still rages. It seems that EA Sports in their wisdom have ported this idea onto the Playstation which should allow these questions to be put to rest once and for all (believe that and you'll believe anything!). Each boxer's style, strength, weight, height, speed, reach, stamina, ring savvy and experience are factored into the artificial intelligence. One thing is for sure, boxing fanatics are going to have a lot of fun pitting legends against one another in Knockout Kings.

Ladies and Gentlemen. It's Showtime so let's get ready to rumble!


Featuring an impressive array of 38 famous boxers, Knockout Kings '99 includes the exclusive rights for Muhammad Ali, Evander Holyfield, Sugar Ray Leonard and Oscar De La Hoya. Fight enthusiasts can compete as or against these legends as they vie for the championship belt in light, middle and heavy-weight classes. In addition to these exclusive fighters, other headliners include Lennox Lewis, Floyd Patterson, Sonny Liston, Ken Norton, Roberto Duran, Leon Spinks, Larry Holmes and Marvin Hagler.


After two bouts of JVC's Victory Boxing I was eager to witness how those sporting giants of EA would pulverize their Japanese opponents. Of course the contest would surely be a mismatch and a knockout blow was expected in the first round. Well... not quite!

Sugar Ray Leonard, Oscar De La Hoya and Shane Mosley worked closely with EA Sports as consultants on the game to ensure the authenticity of the fighting action. All three were motion captured as they executed hundreds of moves that would be used in a real fight. The movements of the boxers were then digitized into the game to bring the cyber boxers to life. For example, Leonard's famous extended chin taunt and bolo punch and De La Hoya's brutal left hook and lightning fast jabs are all in Knockout Kings. Famous referee Mills Lane was the model for the game's official and before each round begins you are treated to a selection of shapely bikini-clad babes who you would think were modelled for motion capture by Lara Croft.

My first reaction to the graphics in Knockout Kings was that of slight disappointment. We seem to have reached a crossroads in gaming and it is becoming difficult to determine which road is the best to take. EA Sports have gone for the really smooth, hi-res, 3D polygon appearance, similar to that present in WWF Warzone. The fighters bare a striking resemblance to their real-life counterparts but tend to look a little alien to the environment, especially when moving against a harsher textured background, such as the canvas. If you want real-life visuals then you virtually have it here.

Don't get me wrong... it is the correct way forward and will eventually lead to photo-realistic graphics... it's just that at this current stage of transition I would prefer to see a little more exaggeration to my game characters... real life is boring. I want my champion fighter to become seven foot tall, muscles growing on his muscles, a fearsome character... not a chunky Evander Holyfield that looks like some fat kid at school with some fluff over his top lip. Many will disagree, but I prefer the graphics in Victory Boxing 2.

Sounds and Effects

The sound effects are straight out of the top drawer. The atmosphere is electric as the constant murmur of the crowd is suddenly ignited by a bone crunching connection. Each blow to the fighters body is realistic enough to take wind out of your sails, while a drop to the canvas sounds like a six foot wall has fallen down.

The Knockout Kings music soundtrack plays a significant role in setting the mood for the fight as each boxer comes into the ring to a selection that reflects his personality, including hip-hop and rock. Old-time fighters from the 40's and 50's have big band and swing music to reflect the time period in which they competed. There's a little scratch music between the action but the best sounds have been saved for the commentary.

The whole boxing match becomes an event as soon as Jimmy Lennon, Jr. does the ring announcing, and Sean O'Grady and Al Albert provide accurate play-by-play commentary. As the two fighters stare each other out before the first bell referee Mills Lane offers his fight instructions and issues warnings for foul punches. He won't be seen again until the fight is over but his presence is surely felt. Throughout each boxing match your corner can be heard barking out instructions such as "Watch out for those uppercuts!" Unfortunately this advice usually arrives a split-second after the blow has already scrambled your fighters brain, but acts as a future warning.


There are three modes of playing Knockout Kings beginning with a one, or two player Exhibition match. These particular bouts must be played strictly by the rules. Should the referee catch you fouling then he will warn you once. Further flouting of the regulations results in a deduction of points and finally disqualification. This mode may be adjusted to accommodate number of rounds, three knockdown rule, saved by the bell and the option to speed the clock up.

Choose one of three divisions which are light, middle and heavyweight. Now simply select your favorite boxer from past or present and guide him to victory. Muhammad Ali, Evander Holyfield, Sugar Ray Leonard, Oscar De La Hoya, Lennox Lewis, Floyd Patterson, Sonny Liston, Ken Norton, Shane Mosley, Jack Dempsey, Rocky Marciano, Joe Louis, Ray Mercer, Pernell Whitaker, Roberto Duran, Leon Spinks, Aaron Pryor, Larry Holmes, Marvin Hagler, Alexis Arguello, Ray Mancini and many more. Surely somebody from everyone's era.

One thing that Victory Boxing lacked was the opportunity to really let go and enjoy a rough, tough scrap. Knockout Kings includes a Slugfest mode where you can forget about weight, ref's and rules. Just select any two boxers and go for it using your wide range of punches, taunts and illegal blows.

Career mode is the real meat and two veg. Imagine being able to develope your very own boxer and groom him through the ranks. Building him into a champion fighter capable of the skill, speed, stamina and special moves to make it to the top. He sets out at the bottom of the ladder but as he wins, experience is gained. This provides the satisfaction and lastability that keeps you playing Knockout Kings.

Creating a boxer requires you to follow a simple series of steps. Will your champion be a boxer or slugger? Light, middle or heavyweight? Right handed or southpaw? Adjust his height, weight, hairstyle, skin tone, features, facial hair and kit design. With a little care you could actually make him look similar to yourself. Scary.

Before each fight you must first decide on your next opponent who must be within two ranking positions of yourself. It's then time to head off to the gym to train hard for the battle ahead. The control pad is fairly basic with face buttons providing body punches, uppercuts, left and right hooks. Combinations of shoulder buttons accommodate high and low guard, weaving, holding on for your life and a range of illegal shots including a shove, taunt and kidney smash.

Controlling your fighter will seem strange to those brought up on a diet of Tekken and Soul Blade. This is boxing therefore if you expect to pick up the control pad and perform a ten move unblockable then you are going to be disappointed. This is not martial arts, it is old school fighting. You won't get very far by thrashing limbs in all directions as combos are definitely out, but a jab.....jab, jab.....jab, punch is in.

Value for Money

You can recreate some of the ring's greatest battles, set up dream bouts, or try to move up the ranks with a custom fighter that you create. With 38 high profile boxers and three game modes K.O Kings proves a knockout in terms of value but with a serious lack of challenge once at the top it soon becomes a little repetitive.

GRAPHICS: 16/20 I found Knockout Kings to be a little sluggish and ran at a much slower pace than Victory Boxing 2, especially when moving forward.

I also quickly discovered the best way to win each fight was to simply connect with more punches that your opponent. This allowed me to become an undefeated world champion within a few hours of play by moving in, throwing a few hooks and then getting out before your opponent had time to react. After a few mandatory defences I retired my boxer to more pleasant pastures only to return for the occasional two player Slugfest.

Overall Knockout Kings will be a fairly good introduction to Playstation gamers who cannot get their hands on the superior Victory Boxing 2, but don't expect too much depth in gameplay.

I wonder if there's a combo that will allow you to bite Holyfields ear off?
SOUND: 8/10
VALUE: 15/20


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