A lot has changed since Title Bout Championship Boxing 2.5 released in 2008. At times, it seemed there would never be a new incarnation of the professional boxing simulator. Developer Out of the Park Developments decided to give the popular Out of the Park Baseball franchise full-time attention, leaving Title Bout Championship Boxing behind. However, the developer sold the rights to the boxing franchise to collaborating studio P.I.S.D. in May. With the release of Title Bout Championship Boxing 2013 (TBCB), the developer finally delivered a boxing sim five years in the making.
TBCB is an extensive boxing sim that ditches the stick-flicking and button-mashing gameplay of modern boxing games for a more realistic approach. Players can simulate matches between more than 6,000 professional boxers throughout history during any stage of their career. A slick new look combined with endless possibilities in TBCB provides boxing junkies with hours of entertainment. However, the game may be best served as a tool for gamblers. Upcoming matches, right down to the location, referees and judges, can be simulated countless times to offer a realistic guess on which boxer will win. Unfortunately, TBCB falls short beyond an extremely extensive gambling tool.
The latest installment of the Title Bout Championship Boxing franchise is the best looking thus far. Players will be immersed immediately into the game world upon seeing the main menu set at the entrance to a gym. Upon entering Title Bout Boxing Gym, users are taken into a locker room-style setting menu system used to perform tasks such as setting up matches or tournaments, organizing groups, scheduling fights and looking at stats. As players will be spending a lot of time navigating through menus, the gym setting is a nice touch that makes the game less mundane.
TBCB shines during simulated matches with effective animations, smooth text commentary and well-timed crowd sounds. Boxers who are occasionally animated take center stage in the ring. The stand-in fighters are always the same generic characters and are not created in the likeness of pro boxers. Characters will move throughout the fight to simulate a jab, uppercut or knockdown. While the animations are too simple to be considered graphics, the improved movements are a nice step forward for the franchise.
Surprisingly detailed text commentary will scroll along the screen to keep players aware when a blow is landed, a fighter looks winded or a visible wound appears. The crowd will react in accordance with the commentary. Hearing the roar of the crowd when fighters take a hit adds to the immersion but listening to the crowd explode when a devastating blow lands is extremely satisfying. It all sounds very simple, and it is. But it keeps players engaged and brings the experience to life.
TBCB is a text-based experience that follows in the footsteps of the board game originally created in 1976. Despite the text gameplay, the game offers plenty of ways to keep gamers entertained. Players will not find the typical career or franchise modes normally offered in a sports sim. Instead, TBCB is based on setting up fight cards or tournaments and pitting fighters from throughout boxing history against each other. Without the career mode, the game lacks a sense of accomplishment but the ability to quickly and easily simulate matches like Floyd Mayweather, Jr. versus Manny Pacquiao more than makes up for it.
The lack of gameplay depth affects the replay value of TBCB. The novelty of simulating matches between famous fighters throughout history wears off quickly. However, gamblers can use the game as an entertaining way to predict upcoming matches through realistic stats and scenarios. TBCB is equipped with an enhanced auto-scheduling tool that allows users to simulate the same match hundreds of times, providing a more accurate prediction. Players do have the option of placing in-game wagers on fights but it only places a slightly heavier weight on the drama.
All of pro boxing’s major titles are represented in TBCB. Users will have access to top 20 rankings lists for each title, making more successful fighters easier to find. However, hardcore fans will be able to find even the most obscure pro boxers from different eras.
Aside from the excessive amount of fighters included in the game, TBCB offers an impressive amount of real-life venues, refs, announcers, commentators, judges and even ring girls. While this information is fun to explore, it has little use on actual gameplay. Refs and judges only slightly affect matches but the venue is always generic during gameplay.
While the plethora of options offered is the game’s best feature, it can be quite overwhelming for casual players or newcomers to set up a match. Selecting refs and commentators can be a chore to players who lack extensive knowledge of pro boxing. Combined with a lack of a tutorial for the game, players without Title Bout experience will have to overcome a steep learning curve. Fortunately, TBCB includes the option of selecting a trainer, ref or judge randomly.
Overall, TBCB is a labor of love from P.I.S.D. that will entertain the most hardcore boxing fans. A steep learning curve and overwhelming amount of fighters and options will scare away new players. However, the latest installment of the boxing sim franchise is sure to entertain the fans who have been waiting years for Title Bout Championship Boxing to get a well-needed facelift. Improved visuals and immersive crowd sounds provide players with a rewarding experience. A huge amount of customizable options and gameplay that can be started quickly makes TBCB a must-have for boxing junkies and gamblers.