Since the demise of EA's Fight Night Chicago studio, the videogame boxing genre has been left wide open for a knock-out blow to the chops. Could Don King's Prizefighter be it?
Prizefighter is a unique take on the genre in that the career mode is completely story driven, practically drowning in cut-scenes and live-action video featuring Don himself. Fighting mechanics are 3D and based on the pad's facing buttons, a far cry from EA's series.
Exec producer Matthew Seymour says it makes for a faster, more realistic experience.
Cut scenes in a boxing game that's not based on the Rocky movies? Tell us more.
Seymour: As you progress through your career you unlock real fight footage from Don King's vast library.
Nigel Benn vs. Chris Eubank judgement day rematch - you'll see that; Ken Norton vs. Larry Holmes in 1978. You'll see interview with Joe Calzaghe, Samuel Peter, Larry Holmes, Ken Norton, Ken Norton talking about fighting Larry Holmes, Larry Holmes talking about fighting Ken Norton... so there's lots of rich stuff to look at, especially for boxing fans.
And what if I'm not a hardcore boxing fan?
Seymour: For those who aren't boxing fans we broaden their horizon by offering a career mode told in an interesting way. The more famous you are, the more money you'll take.
Hardcore gamers - the completists - can win by getting everything perfect, getting the most money, building the best media profile and growing the best win/loss record. A casual gamer can go through the career, finish the story and go, 'hey, I feel great'.
Getting to the actual meat of the game... how do the fighting controls work?
Seymour: Obviously our big competition is Fight Night and the 'Total Punch Control TM'. We based our controls on the Street Fighter mechanics, so everything's on the face buttons, shoulders and triggers. The reason we do that is because our game plays much faster like real boxing.
So when you throw a jab, we want you to throw a jab, not searching to click left on the analogue, spin it around...
We wanted that when you threw a punch, you knew it was coming. A big signature punch is this game is pretty easy; it's a shoulder button and maybe A and B. So it's Street Fighter, but not crazy Street Fighter like A, B, B, X, Y, B, B Y and so on.
Fight Night is a lot slower, and they do that because they think you need to see every punch land. But they also a cheat a little bit because if it's really slow, you see the opening, where as we think the speed and giving these immediate buttons works as well.
You've got all this HD video footage pushing along the story - does that mean it's going to be a fairly linear experience?
Seymour: It doesn't branch, no. Where we do the branching is this whole idea of balancing the media and training. That's where you really change your character and where you go in different routes.
You can be a more Ali guy who's great inside the ring and outside the ring, or you can be a more Tyson guy who's hated outside but a really powerful fighter. That's where we do the changes. The story documentary footage is about have you succeeded to this point, and covers what you've done.
I guarantee you a lot more publishers are going to go down this live-action route, and we're one of the first to do it.
A prime example is EA's SKATE game - the opening is all live action. Command & Conquer 3 on the PC has live-action, but I think we've done the best to integrate it all the way through with the story.