I love boxing. Weird in a post-mixed martial arts world I know, but I am a huge fan of the Marquess of Queensberry rules and would rather see a good boxing match than almost any other sport, blood or no. I also love boxing games. From Fight Night to Muhammad Ali Boxing on MegaDrive or even 4D boxing on PC (no time travel involved) I love to see polyganal pugilists punch each other senseless. With a decent (albeit painfully difficult) version of EA’s Fight Night already on iOS devices, David Hayes Knockout has some serious competition for the heavyweight boxing crown. So how does Mr Haye do?
David Haye’s Knockout is out of its depth from the first round. With some seriously basic graphics, glaring gameplay faults and paper thin design, there’s little to interest boxing fans here. Even fans of David Haye will struggle to find much entertainment value here except for the occasional, bizarre and unintentionally hilarious moments, like the huge spurts of kethcup-like blood that spew from the enemy after each punch.
The game plays a lot like Punch Out. Viewed from behind Mr Haye, you have four on-screen buttons for punches to the head and body with your left and right, while sliding your finger around the screen allows you to dodge. You’re viewpoint never moves and the graphics are basic, chunky sprites. All in, the presentation looks like a basic web based flash game. The animations are limited and you will be saying the same knock downs, taunts and punches over and over and over again.
As well as the basic visuals there are presentation issues throughout. When you knock an enemy down, there is no count. Instead they either get up or they don’t. When your little David Haye wins he turns round and smiles at you. It may be a little cartoon David Haye that tries to be cheeky, but it manages to be creepy somehow.
Strangest of all though is the aforementioned blood and gore. Every punch results in spurts of crimson far more egregious than anything in Mortal Kombat. You genuinely worry about how much of the stuff the little enemy boxers shed before collapsing as empty, bloodless husks. The whole time you watch the fight, you feel like shouting, “Stop David! You’re killing him!”. Worst of all, when you manage to dodge a set number of punches from the enemy you can activate a “Haymaker”. This may sound like a power punch, but as I experienced this it involved David Haye pulling some red pole out of somewhere and smashing the opponents head off their shoulders. I’m sorry that explanation is terrible, but that’s all I could make of the strange visuals on my screen. Whatever happened, it created one very headless, very dead opponent. Is this something you want to see happen to an opponent in a boxing match? It DOES NOT make you feel victorious or courageous.
Progression is confusing too. After each fight you are put back to the start screen. Sometimes you can play again against a different opponent, other times you need to grind it out against the same opponent a set number of times. Before each fight a countdown tells you how many trophies you need to collect before you are allowed a title shot. This number will depress you.
I could go on at length about David Haye’s Knockout but it seems unfair. David Haye is a great British boxer and deserves a good game to put his name to. This is not that game. Grubby Hands made the charming little indie title “Boy Loves Girl”, so they are clearly not a studio that should be written off. They can make great games in the future. Although David Haye’s Knockout has some engagingly insane moments, its not even a good game never mind a great one. As entertaining as an Audley Harrison fight, avoid avoid.
3 punchy, could-have-been contenders out of 10