Knockout City is a lively mixture of deathmatch and dodgeball: Online players throw balls at each other in colorful arenas.
- Jul 05, 2021
Knockout City is only the second game by the still young Velan Studios (after Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit) - nevertheless, the title looks like it was made in one piece: The tutorials are professional, the menus are arranged, the matchmaking runs smoothly and all online games run smoothly and without any problems. The title seems polished all around - this also applies to the controls, which feel excellent and quickly become second nature.
Two teams of three players each run around medium-sized maps, collecting balls that appear at spawn points and using them to try to knock off the members of the other team. The basic mechanics of Knockout City are simple and quickly understood: You can run, throw, jump and dash - if you're in the air, a sustained press on the jump button will make your character unpack a paraglider and elegantly sail through the arena. In addition, there is the possibility to catch balls thrown by the opponent, to reach higher platforms via a jump roll, to only fake a throw, or to jostle opponents away. The latter action is not enough for an energy deduction, it can only be done with throws. A handy red screen border with a directional indicator shows when you are in a thrower's sights - then you should quickly turn a corner or at least face the enemy so that you have a chance to intercept the pill. The game speed is medium - you don't need superhuman reflexes to find your way around. By the way, you only have to aim in a very rudimentary way, because nearby enemies are automatically targeted and then also hit by your ball.
On the one hand, Knockout City runs technically spotless and the ball game mechanics work as intended. On the other hand, this rather simple online game sounds relatively complex - with its throwing variations, the different balls, and the advanced team techniques. The maps aren't particularly imaginative, nor are there spots on them that burn into your memory. And then there's the problem that hits never feel as satisfying as a good kill in a first-person shooter, a nice goal, or a fat ramming maneuver. Yes, there is something of the tension of a Western duel inherent in the element of facing each other and waiting for the throw. Other reasons that might make Knockout City last only slightly longer than EA's Rocket Arena are the very arbitrary art design, the lack of an offline bot mode, the unsurprising but still annoying inclusion of expensive cosmetic items, and the narrow scope of only six maps.