As gamers, were no strangers when it comes to fighting our way off of alien spaceships. Find a way to get free, kill everything in your path, and save the day. In Boxing Apocalypse, we once again find ourselves awakening to this very situation. Only this time, we have to use our fists instead of chainsaws and shotguns.
If you haven’t guessed by now, Boxing Apocalypse is a VR boxing game. Your objective is to fight, hand to hand, with your alien captors. If you fail, all of mankind will be doomed. A workout and knocking the blocks off alien scum? Sounds too good to be true. Let’s take a look at what Boxing Apocalypse, from Mario Simone, has to offer.
At the start of your game, you’re going to find yourself in arena surrounded by aliens. You don’t know why you are here, but it’s pretty clear that you’re in for a fight. That is about the extent of the setup you’re going to get in this game. You won’t find any compelling characters or explanations. Not even a cut-scene.
As a boxing game, I never really expected much story. After all, this is all about the combat and feeling good at the end of a round. It is clear who the enemy will be and I need no further explanation. All I need is my first target in front of me, and my fists.
You Have No Fists
One of the first things that I noticed when I jumped into this game was that I didn’t have any hands. Immediately, this struck me as an odd design decision for a boxing game. Instead of hands, you have two spinning balls at the end of what appear to be gauntlets. I really expected some sort of info as to why my hands became balls, but found none.
Luckily, floating in front of me where three orbs, one of which was labeled controls. I hit it, and it showed me how to preform basic attacks as well as how to check score, health, and trigger your special attack. You don’t actually move around in the game so no teleportation to speak of. As for hitting, you can pretty much swing from any angle and a hit will register if you connect. Hitting with an uppercut knocked enemies back and a downward strike knocked them forward. My new balls actually turned out to be pretty useful, once I got the hang of them.
You can find your health and a power meter displayed on your right gauntlet, score on the left. If you hold down the triggers you will activate a shield that blocks incoming blows. Oh, and the A and X buttons turned my balls into fly swatters. Why fly swatters? I have no flipping clue.
Once I figured out what my new balls where capable of, it was then time to figure out how to swing them. I was really hoping for some sort of tutorial that showed combo punches, how to use my power up, or what the hell to do with my fly swatters. Nope, nothing. You really have to just jump in and start swinging. After an hour of swinging, I came away about as confused, but I managed to pick up a few things.
Combos are any series of consecutive hits that go unblocked, head or gut. The more you get, the more your power meter builds. Once its full, your balls will glow. Hit an alien with that and its and instant frag. During combat, your opponent will try to hit you and that is when you use your shield. I still have no clue as to why or when you need to use your fly slappers, but they are funny as hell to use in the middle of a fight.
Your opponents will spawn in waves. The total number of opponents, and their skill, will increase depending on the difficulty level you selected at the start of the round. Once you kill all the spawned aliens, one or two at a time, the next round starts. After three waves, you will face off against a boss.
Okay, your opponents are fairly basic. They will punch and block with very little reaction to what you are actually doing. At higher levels of difficulty, they will do all of this faster, but not smarter. The boss, an out of place looking black alien, is only different in that you need to punch his gut before his head.
The AI is basic at best, with the aliens just carrying out their routines despite what you are doing. If this is somehow wrong, it at no point felt like it during my gameplay. They didn’t have any super abilities of their own, and even two at a time proved to be very little challenge. The fights really came down to just flinging your balls around as fast as possible.
You have two levels to choose from in Boxing Apocalypse. A prison arena being one, or a blueish room called the matrix. Both are fairly bland and, seeing as how you don’t actually use them in any way, forgettable. Nothing changes depending on location, same aliens, same boss, just different backdrops.
The aliens themselves look decent. My real gripe is with the boss that pops up at the end of each level. It, in no way, fits with the rest of the art style being used in the game. At first, I thought it was some sort of joke and figured I would be putting my fly swatter hand to work. This was not the case and it ended up playing out like a bad version of the King Hippo fight.
The music and sound effects are generic at best. The feedback you get from punching is good sounding except when you pull off a combo. When you do this, you get a weak party popper sound and some little confetti pops out. Mixed with the alien bodies falling to bits after you punch their health bars down, it just feels strange. Like the entire game is stuck between trying to be funny bad or just badly serious.
End of the Line
I respect everyone who attempts to make a game. Some are good, some are bad, but they freaking did it and that is amazing. That said, I have a job to do. Boxing Apocalypse, in concept, is a good idea but it needs a ton of work. The artwork looks hashed together and bland. The aliens feel as though they have no real reactions to how you play, due to nonexistent AI. Worst of all, you have no real feeling of accomplishment at the end of a round. On top of all that, why do I have balls for hands and why the hell do they turn into fly swatters?
While boxing is a definite fit for VR gaming, delivery is everything when it comes to making it a fun experience. Boxing Apocalypse shows us that you don’t need a compelling story line, or any story for that matter. What you do need is natural feeling movement, satisfying feedback, and a feeling of accomplishment at the end of the round. Without that, the game just feels awkward and unrewarding. Ultimately, that is what this game felt like to me.
Boxing Apocalypse is available, now, on the Oculus store for $19.99. The developer is looking for a future release on the PlayStation 4, but no release date as of now. Be sure and let us know what you think in the comments below.
Title: Boxing Apocalypse
Publisher: Gotham City Films, LLC
Release Date: January 18, 2018