The designer's premise for TKO was simple: to break the mold of two-dimensional cartoony boxing simulations and put you, the player, inside the ring. TKO's first-person perspectives, simple mechanics, excellent joystick control, and realistic-looking boxers work together to create an exciting simulation of a real bout.
In TKO, you're eyeball-to-eye-ball with a big, mean contender. Clip him on the chin and his head snaps back; pound him on the head and his face turns black and blue; smash him hard on the nose, and he bleeds. Meanwhile, of course, he's trying to do the same (or worse) to you, so remember to keep those gloves up.
You start the game in the gym, where you select the face, name, style, and fighting strengths of your boxer. You can challenge the computer opponents in a one-player title quest, or slug it out with another human-controlled opponent. There's room for some basic boxing strategy in TKO (if your opponent tires quickly, work the body; if he bleeds easily, stay in his face, etc.), but the game is mainly a slugfest.
The animation in TKO is very good, and the joystick response is quick and accurate. The effects of fatigue and cumulative injury are simulated with considerable realism. The action is smoother, faster, and more true to life if you can make your moves with split-second timing, so a joystick is strongly recommended. Even so, the game plays decently under keyboard control, if your finger-jab is quick enough.
Those who find boxing too brutal or uncivilized should avoid TKO. Anybody who likes a good prize fight, however, should give it a try, for it's surely the most realistic fight simulation yet issued for the PC.