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September 22, 2003
Black & Bruised - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
17/7/2003VivendiDigital Fiction1-2M15+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen

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The effects do look nice.
Boxing games are never a fun game genre to review. In reality it's hard to change a persons opinion about the sport and if they don't like it there is little way to recommend a boxing game. When it comes to actual boxing games so many just seem like mashing the buttons and hoping for the best. Even EA's highly regarded Knockout Kings 2002 can seem like the winner is determined by who can mash the buttons the quickest, although EA's game also allows you to block and dodge which has some impact on the gameplay. Black & Bruised isn't a simulation like EA's title, but rather takes an arcade styled perspective on the sport. But is it any good?

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A crunch to the face.
The facts about this game are impressive. Black & Bruised includes 19 fighters each with their own story which unfolds during the game. 21 unique arenas are included in the game and while the backgrounds aren't overly detailed they are all animated with a variety of people and objects. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this game are the 18 power-up's including Armor, AutoSlip, Vamp, Fire Damage and the heavy 100t hitting which will knock your opponent flat.

Black & Bruised includes six different modes of play. These are Training to refine your fightin g skills and techniques, Single Fight which is a one-on-one fight with the computer, Trounament Fight which sees you fighting a list of opponents to go for the World Title, Survival Fight which is a continuous stram of boxers to see how well you go, Two Player Fight which is the 2-player mode and finally the Boxer's Life which shows the storylines with each boxer through in-game movies.

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Time for some heavy hitting.
Ultimately however, Black & Bruised fails due to the lack of strategy required during the bouts. While games such as Knockout Kings 2002 requires some strategy to knock out the opposition this game gives the impression that the person that lands the most punches quickly will win. The power-ups add some strategy to the game, and some interest, but unless you're playing in 2-player mode you'll tire of this game very quickly.

It must be said that while the gameplay is somewhat questionable the graphics are not. The cel-shaded characters look amazing both in still shots and when moving. The characters area all varied in their looks, and mannerisms while the effects when power-ups are in use are impressive. Facial damage also appears in the game with the developers including over 30 unique facial animations. Finally, the frame rate is also rock solid at 50fps and helps maintain the smooth action. There really is little to fault in the graphical department - well done Digital Fiction.

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The female fighters are sight!
Sound-wise Black & Bruised is a mixed bag. The biggest disappointment are the punches which lack any real brutal factor. You want to hear bones crunching, people in pain and suffering - but get none of it. The speech is also disappointing with many lines from the fighters, but lacking a lot of quality. It really is a case of quantity over quality while the taunts which entertaining at first become tiresome fairly quickly.

This is a disappointing title overall. While the graphics are nice the actual gameplay is lacking with the action degenerating to a button mashing fest. The inclusion of power-ups is a neat idea that works fairly well but with a lack of game modes there is little reason to visit this title. If you've got some mates over you may want to consider this as a rental.

Review By: David Warner

GRAPHICSVery nice cel-shaded characters with solid animation and frame rate.
SOUNDNot up to the graphical standard and taunts become annoying quickly.
GAMEPLAYNice power-ups but this is still an button mashing affair.
VALUEPlenty of fighters and multi-player is fun, but how much can you take?
OVERALLBoxing still can't hit the mark on the Playstation 2 and while the graphics in this title are impressive the overall gameplay becomes too repetitive too quickly. Black and Bruised can really only be recommended to die-hard fighting fans.

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