* Prices may differ from that shown
I can't say I'm a huge fan of sports games; I've dabbled in the Fifa series and fought in the WWE, but it's never really caught my imagination enough to proclaim that I'm really a 'fan'. After recently purchasing an iPad Mini I was excited to see what apps I could download and one that seemed to have glowing reviews on the app store was Real Boxing.
Real Boxing truly does look the part on the app store. The fantastic graphics and realism stand out from the word go and even with the somewhat pricey £2.99 download price, I had to see what all the fuss was about and eagerly hit the download button.
The app, as you can imagine isn't for children and is rated a 12. It will take up 201MB of your memory which is about average for an iPad game. Although I've downloaded this onto my iPad, it's also available for the iPhone 4 and up, although is optimised for the iPhone 5 and is also playable on the 4th Generation iPod Touch and above. Through the magic of iCloud, upon downloading onto my iPad, as if by magic, this appeared on my iPhone 5 as well so I've been able to experience the best of both worlds.
What first strikes you like a right hook from Tyson are the stunning graphics on this app. Infact, calling it an app doesn't really do it justice, so from now on I will refer to this as a game because with console like graphics this game really does justify the £2.99 that you've spent. The vivid colours and shocking realism of the fighters really makes this game stand out amongst the crowd.
After a quick sequence, you're then greeted with the main menu, which is preset to the quick fight option. Two boxers will stand before you, their stats on show and if you so wish you're able to participate in a fight straight away. The menu is incredibly simple to navigate and on the top of the screen (landscape mode is enabled for this game) are all your other game play modes. These include a career and multiplayer, but lets start off with the basics first.
To participate in a 'Quick Fight' simply choose your boxer, your opponent and your stadium and you're away. At the bottom of the screen is an option which says 'controls' and you're able to select touch or motion. I would recommend using the touch controls until you're a lot more comfortable with the game. Hitting the fight button in the middle of the screen will load up the fight and you'll see the entrance and the stats of your boxer. What you're likely to do first (which is what I did) will be to try and move your boxer either towards or away from your opponent and you'll quickly realise that you're unable to do so. You see, this game has been simplified somewhat and evokes memories of old arcade games where your fighter would stand still while you control his fists. Actually, that's quite an accurate summary of this game, but before I put you off straight away, it's not quite that simple. Simply touch the screen to control your boxer, touch the right or left side of the screen for a jab with the corresponding fist, swipe left or right for a hook and swipe up for an uppercut. It all sounds pretty simple right?
This is where it starts to get complicated. Real Boxing lulls you into a false sense of security with the apparent simplicity of this game, however, there's much more to it than just going hell for leather on your opponent. This is a game of tactics and skill and you'll soon discover this after hitting the canvas 3 or 4 times! Your boxer won't simply stand there looking mean, he will fight back and when I say he'll fight back I mean it. There are no difficulty settings on this game so you quickly have to get used to how to maintain a lead over your opponent, especially as you're not able to move around the ring. Towards the bottom of the screen are two buttons, block and dodge. Hold the block button to block your opponents punches, however, this only works for two punches before your opponent breaks your block and goes in for the kill. Tap the dodge button and your fighter will duck and weave, again this is only effective if your fighter is attempting head shots, body shots will hit their targets so you really need to be clever about what avoidance tactic you take and when to get your shots in. Dodging shots can be both a blessing and a curse, once you've avoided a shot, slow motion will take hold and any shot you land on your opponent will cause 3 times as much damage as normal. This is all well and good, but is easily capitalised on by your opponent and they can reverse this easily and the referee will be counting before you even know what's happened.
At the top of your screen is your health bar, along with your opponents and below is your stamina. This will deplete very quickly and to regain it you need to stop punching and block for a few seconds. When your stamina bar has depleted your punches will have little to no affect and this, again is where the tactics game comes into play.
The boxers themselves look very good and very realistic. The only problem being, they all look exactly the same! They all have the same bodies and faces, the only thing that changes is the hair, tattoos and attire. You'd think that for a game that focuses so highly on its realism you'd be able to differentiate between boxers, but this is where Real Boxing lets itself down. It would seem that a lot of effort has gone into it, but was rushed right at the end and it shows in some of the finer details.
There are other modes of play like career and multiplayer. Career consists of 3 tiers all consisting of 9 fights. There's no real story behind it unfortunately and you may as well be in the 'Quick Fight' mode. You fight, fight again and fight again. Upon winning a fight you're awarded money depending on what tier you're currently fighting in and after every 5 fights you're able to use the gym to train your fighter.
This consists of three different exercises; hitting a punch bag, skipping and using a speed bag. Just when the game seems like it might get a little more intense, up pops a dance mat similar game where you touch the screen when the icons hit the centre. Each training bit lasts 30 seconds and will take your stats up a couple of levels (from 70% to 72%) this becomes a very tiresome activity and with such little rewards does seem rather pointless. With the money you win from fights you can also improve your stats, this is a little less tiresome, however, with the money you win, coupled with the training sessions every 5 fights it's difficult to really improve your fighter and before long you'll be in a higher tier with better fighters and your stats will be way below theirs. This is where you begin to feel a little cheated. Upon clicking on the store option you'll notice that you're able to purchase money from the App Store to be used to improve your fighter, this ranges from 69p to £10.99 and after already paying £2.99 to download the game, which is much more than normal apps you feel a bit let down by the further money grabbing opportunities.
As an experiment I made a purchase of 69p on my iPad and before using the money I opened up the game on my iPhone, assuming that with the devices connected to each other through iCloud the money would appear on my iPhone, but no, nothing. You have to pay separately for each device which I think is a further con. Using two different devices to play the same game isn't possible either. If my battery was low on my iPad I couldn't then pick up where I left off on my iPhone. I would have to start a brand new career which is rather disappointing considering what capabilities Apple have at the moment using iCloud and multitasking.
Multiplayer is a bit of a waste of time to be honest. It needs to match you up with someone playing the game at the same time as you using WiFi and is hit and miss at the best of times. It tells you your normal waiting time should be 20 seconds, however, you can easily sit and stare at the screen for several minutes without being paired with someone. When you are paired with someone though, it does give the game a bit of a longer lifespan and brings in a slightly more competitive edge.
You may think that after all the negatives I've listed that this game isn't really worth the download price, however, truth be told it is. The graphics are fantastic and so is the game play. The game of tactics really keeps you interested and even after you've completed the career mode you'll still keep coming back for more. The game is difficult, but once you've mastered it you'll find it challenging and entertaining.