If you’re a boxing fan, things have been a little dry for the last decade on the videogame front.
Sure, there have been some boxing games, but they’ve generally been light-hearted or over-the-top affairs. And so with the likes of EA seemingly not interested in reviving its once popular Fight Night series, a developer from Sheffield, UK, has stepped in to give boxing fans what they’ve been wanting. Undisputed by Steel City Interactive aims to be the most authentic boxing game to date, with deep mechanics, stunning visuals and an impressive assortment of licensed boxers. Having gone hands-on with the early access version prior to its launch, we can confirm that it might just be the game that boxing fans have been waiting for.
As soon as you jump into your first fight in Undisputed, it’s clear that a lot of effort has gone into presentation. With the graphical settings turned up, it pretty much looks real – certainly enough to convince a passer-by that you’re watching on TV, anyway. Great attention has been paid to all aspects of the sport, making sure that everything from ring entrances to the one minute rests between rounds are authentic as can be. In the ring, you’ll also see damage building up as boxers take blows; faces turning red and cuts welling up.
When it comes to the actual act of boxing, it feels familiar but fresh. You move with the left stick, and in conjunction with the left trigger or pushing in the left stick, you have an assortment of dodges and weaves available. You can even change your stance if you want, and go ‘loose’. This not only frees your movement up a little, but also increases your chances of knocking an opponent down with a powerful blow. Be careful, though, because it makes you more vulnerable to attack, too.
To throw punches multiple options are available. Some may prefer to use the face buttons on their controller, with jabs, straights and left and right hooks each mapped to individual buttons. Uppercuts, meanwhile, are performed by pressing two buttons together. Alternatively, the right analogue stick can be used, with movements in various directions performing punches instead. Add in modifiers to aim for the body and power up your punches and you have a lot of options available.
What’s truly impressive about Undisputed is how everything comes together. Combine the slick movement with the assortment of possible punches and you have the most accurate representation of boxing yet. When a powerful hook hits an opponent clean in the face you really feel it. On the flip side, if your opponent manages to move out of the way of your attack you’ll perhaps see it whiff, with your arm moving around them a little. Add in the fact that punches can sometimes break through or go around an opponent’s guard and you have a fighting system that truly looks and feels dynamic.
Of course, stamina plays an important role in Undisputed. Every punch and block requires some of it, with more powerful punches really needing some effort. Throw punches wildly, then, and you’ll soon find yourself out of breath, which will then limit your attacking capabilities. Manage to put your opponent in a danger state, however, and you gain a burst of adrenaline, allowing you to go all-out for a short while in the hopes of scoring a knockout.
Aside from some camera woes that can be sorted by visiting the setting menu, stamina is perhaps our only issue with Undisputed so far. At least when playing against the CPU, anyway. Basically, the CPU is a monster, often managing to pretty much conserve all of its stamina even when going a full 12 rounds. Perhaps it’s because the AI is not particularly aggressive unless you crank the difficulty up? In any case, take the action online an you’re likely to have much more of a fulfilling experience.
That’s about all you can do in Undisputed at the moment though – engage in single matches either offline or online. Over time though, you’ll be able to create your own fighters and even undertake a career. Still, Undisputed already has an impressive line up of licensed boxers that you’ll no doubt enjoy pitting against each other. Alongside modern greats like Tyson Fury are legends such as Frank Bruno. There’s a women’s division, too, as well as some unexpected faces such as Eddie Hall, the strongman turned media personality.
Even at this early stage there’s a hell of a lot to like about Undisputed if you’re a boxing fan. And so, if you feel you’d be happy engaging in quick fights against the CPU and taking an all-comers online, we see no reason why you shouldn’t jump in. If you like your games to have exciting career modes, however, then you might want to wait to while. In any case, it looks like boxing fans are finally getting the game they deserve. And it can only get better as more modes, features and licensed boxers are made available.
Undisputed is available now via Steam Early Access on PC.