Review: Knockout League (PSVR)

Review: Knockout League (PSVR)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Oculus Rift
  • HTC Vive
  • Windows Mixed Reality

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • 4K HDR

Extras:

  • PlayStation VR Required
  • DualShock 4 None
  • Move Required (2)
  • PS VR Aim Controller None
Title: Knockout League
Format: PSN (2.71 GB)
Release Date: February 13, 2018
Publisher: Grab Games
Developer: Grab Games / Vive Studios
Original MSRP: $29.99 (US)
ESRB Rating: T
PEGI: TBD
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
For those PS VR headset owners itching to use your Move controllers to land some punches on an opponent, your time has come. Knockout League brings boxing to the PlayStation VR and it does so with a familiar formula.

This isn’t quite the simulator style boxing of Fight Night, rather the pattern centric gameplay of Punch-Out!! (Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! in the US). Regardless of this more streamlined form of video game boxing, one thing is certain… you will sweat.

The developers were so confident in this notion that they’ve even included an optional calorie counter to show how much you burn off while playing. I compared it to my watch’s readout after a match and it wasn’t too far off.

Much like Punch-Out!!, Knockout League is a fun game, and it’s well designed to slowly get you accustomed to its mechanics. First of all, you are given a short tutorial that walks you through dodging and combination punching.

This is pretty essential because the game isn’t really about just dodging the punch in what feels natural for that moment. Certain attacks have to be dodged in a certain way, otherwise you’ll get hit, even if you say “Wait a second! I dodged that!”

Successful dodges will leave your opponent open to attack, and that’s where you let loose. There is some 1:1 punching here and it feels pretty great to land hooks and see your opponent react appropriately. It’s not always spot on, but more often than not an uppercut will have them reeling backwards.

To further the comparison to one of my favorite NES classics, these challengers aren’t just other guys dressed in silk shorts. You will fight everything from a cybernetic scientist to an octopus with gloves on each tentacle. Every fighter has a pattern, and once you learn it and exploit it, you will have an easier time defeating them.

Naturally, much like Glass Joe in comparison to King Hippo, your opponents will gradually become faster and less predictable. This is not a walk in the park, and if you’re looking for a workout while playing a video game, Knockout League will give you just that.

Outside of the ring, there are various challenges and even a workout room that lets you achieve some extra scoring with the speed bag and some weights. I actually found myself enjoying the speed bag challenges, and it taught me quite a bit about pacing.

Visuals:
Despite using a more cartoony style with its characters, Knockout League is a pretty game, with very little aliasing on the characters themselves and barely noticeable shortcuts in the environment as well.

This is a great achievement on PS VR, but it’s also one that helps with the gameplay, because you really have to pay attention to your opponent’s movements, and the clearer the picture, the more likely you are to succeed in this.

Heck, even your own gloves look great up close, with clean and sharp textures and appropriate light reflections. I do wish I could see my character’s arms, but very few games have achieved great arm inverse kinematics in VR, so it’s understandable.

In between matches you are treated to comic book style cinematics narrating the origin story of the next combatant. Coupled with narration, these are done well and give more depth to the overall mythology of the game.

Audio:
Speaking of narration, your opponent’s talk trash and the announcer blares out reactions. Even your coach has that rugged “Mickey” voice like the manager in Rocky. Some great sound work has been done to engage you and it shows.

Several challengers compliment your achievements, while others will gloat when they knock you out. Overall this gives Knockout League a great personality that extends beyond its visuals.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is one player only with no online component.

Conclusion:
The month of February gave us Sprint Vector and Knockout League on PS VR, two games that will make you sweat under the headset. I personally run to “try” to stay in shape. So, while Sprint Vector gave me a workout, I wasn’t nearly as sore as I was after playing Knockout League.

The morning after starting the game, my upper body felt a bit sore, and it was a great feeling getting that from a video game that I was genuinely enjoying.

The first time playing it, the second opponent gave me a run for my money, but it also felt good to learn her pattern and do better the second and third time, and all the while, seeing those calories burn on the screen.

This game is not on the cheaper side of the VR offerings, but I feel it warrants the higher price with stronger production values, some great replayability, and optional challenges. For certain, if you enjoy the notion of burning calories while playing a video game, look no further than this.

Score:
8.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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