I’ve always felt that boxing games have to be one of the hardest types of games to make. The developer has to walk a razor-thin line between a fighting game and a sports game. In Real Boxing, Vivid Games does their best to walk that line and at times is very successful at it.

Released exclusively on the PlayStation Vita, Real Boxing puts you in the ring to duke it out in beautiful detail. Visually, the game is stunning. Running on the Unreal Engine 3, all the stops are pulled out to give a dynamic, visceral experience in the ring. Vivid put a tremendous amount of time and energy to give Real Boxing the unique look it has.

To a certain extent, I feel like they spent almost too much time there. The game’s controls good, but feel incomplete. There are really three sets of controls. Using the left analog stick for movement, you can either use the d-pad and face buttons for the left and right fists, respectively, or use the right analog stick in certain directions to the left (for left fist) or right (for the right fist) to throw punches. The first way is too clumsy, and using the right analog stick felt inaccurate. The third way is using the touch screen, and sadly, that is trying to play on rails that involved more of me yelling at the game to close in for the knockout and less of me actually punching anyone.

When I first started playing, I was very excited to see some real role-playing aspects to the game. It gave me a sense that this “underdog boxer from Puerto Rico” (my imagined story, not theirs) could make a name for himself. Then I started in the lowest fighting group and I was knocking people out, I was completing challenges for extra skill points and hitting the gym to earn perks through mini-games. I won the title of this low group and wanted to up my game and join the next group of fighters. Right then, I hit a wall in the game so hard I thought I was playing a free-to-play game and I smashed into the pay wall. The game simply ramps up the difficulty way too fast.

Overall, Real Boxing does have a lot of positives going for it. The visuals are incredible and the sense of being in the ring cannot be understated. Unfortunately, you can easily get lost in the repetitiveness of the fights, controls that are good, but not great and a skill wall that is surmountable, assuming you are willing to grind the low levels to make it.

Real Boxing is out now on the PlayStation Vita for $9.99, $8.99 if you are a PS Plus member.

Real Boxing PS Vita Trailer