Originally released on mobile devices, boxing simulation Real Boxing took a few punches at a curiously empty market. With few decent boxing games available for phones and tablets, it brought the depth of a console brawler to our portable devices. Now receiving a significant upgrade, it's looking to do the same on the PS Vita. But what's it like? We entered the ring for some hands on time!

Blending causal gameplay with a surprising level of depth, Real Boxing was an immediate hit on the Apple app store. Later released on Android, it quickly became a bestselling app. What’s more, through its integration of the Unreal engine, Real Boxing brought a console level of grit to mobile devices – with each bloodied punch rendered in surprisingly realistic detail. However, it crucially remained a game designed for causal play, with basic touch controls and some middling presentation. Its app origins were also reflected in its limited play modes with no multiplayer functionality.

Real Boxing might have been an above average casual game, but the jump to Vita clearly deserves a fuller and more complex experience. As such, developer Vivid has strived to revamp the game to create something that’s akin to a console Boxing simulation. Whilst previous versions of the game focused on simplistic touch screen prompts, the Vita version utilises physical controls. The difference in how the game plays is significant, and now for the first time you’ll actually move your boxer around the ring and directly control every punch, jab and evade. The result is a new level of depth, transforming the game from a causal experience to a Fight Night style simulation.

Moving around the ring with the left analogue stick, you’ll need to remain light on your feet and think carefully about your opponents. Punches can be blocked and evaded, with the latter allowing for a crucial strike back. Combos also play a big part of Real Boxing, and landing repeated hooks, jabs and uppercuts is crucial to winning each fight. While the new control scheme results in a more strategic experience, fans of the original will be pleased to find that traditional touch controls can be turned on at any time. Vivid have also made use of the Vita’s motion sensor, and you’ll tilt the console to gain an advantage during clinches.

 

As before, players are given a variety of options including quick matches, but it’s the Career mode that still offers the bulk of the experience. Spanning three different tournaments, you’ll go from zero to hero as you rise the ranks. As you complete matches, you’ll also earn XP to improve your stats along with points which can be used to customise your boxer with new items – from gloves to tattoos. Whilst the career mode remains largely unchanged, perhaps the most exciting addition is a fully fledged multiplayer mode. Playable both online and via local connection, two players can now go head to head on the go.

Along with multiplayer, Real Boxing also features integration of the PS Vita’s Near system, allowing fighters to share items. Mini games have also been revamped, and boxers can train to improve stats through rhythm game style challenges. Through its use of the Unreal Engine, Real Boxing also still impresses visually. With strong animations and some slick detail, the game exceeded expectations for mobile devices and looks just as good on Sony’s Vita. It’s fair to say that the lack of any genuine fighters and basic presentation might turn some away, but with its reasonable pricing and fun multiplayer, it’s hard to imagine a more promising download only boxing sim.

Coming to PS Vita at the end of August, Real Boxing could be exactly what dedicated fans of the sport are looking for on Sony’s Handheld. While it remains to be seen if the new additions and refinements will result in an experience that truly feels like a whole new game, the revised control system and multiplayer modes certainly make a knock-out first impression.

  • Developer: Vivid Games
    Publisher: Vivid Games