Review – Creed: Rise to Glory

Ever since the launch of the PSVR, I’ve been waiting for a good boxing experience. I used to spend time in Rec Room’s Rec Center boxing the training dummy until I began to attract a crowd of others joining in, placing a trashcan over its head, and throwing darts at it. I had high hopes for Knockout League until I read that it mostly consisted of pattern memorization like Punch-Out, which is fine on my flat TV screen but wouldn’t scratch that itch the way that I wanted in VR. To my eager anticipation, along came Creed: Rise to Glory.

Why can’t you be Mike Tyson?

The best way to describe Creed: Rise to Glory would be to call it a “cinematic boxing experience”, as I’ve heard it being described on multiple occasions. It’s not a “boss fight memorization” type of game, nor is it a full-fledged boxing simulator. You take on the roll of Apollo Creed’s son, Adonis, during his climb through the ranks, running somewhat parallel to the events of the 2015 cinematic release. Unfortunately, if you want to understand any context of the narrative, which is very lightly and sloppily sprinkled into the game,  such as an awkwardly placed segment loosely related to events that took place in the movie with no in-game explanation of its existence, you’ll need to watch the movie. It almost seems as if elements of the story were thrown in as an afterthought to somewhat tie the game to the property. You can still experience the gameplay without any knowledge of the game, though.

This was like my BEST screenshot and mind you, I got punched in the face for it.

For the most part, the visuals during the fights are well done. The arenas are very distinct and active with fans cheering from the audience. The fighters are very well rendered and reactive to your punches, even showing damage as the fights progresses. However, the first trainer did have a “no eyeballs” problem that I’ve seen a few times in VR so, try not to stare too heavily into the darkness of his soul. Some of the lip movements didn’t sync well with the audio as well. There were moments where Rocky Balboa was speaking to me, waving his arms and nodding his head without moving his lips which threw me back to the days of conversations with NPCs in various PS1 titles. There’s something to be said about the derpy leg movements when you move your head from side to side but for once, no floating hands. You look to the sides and see your arms and shoulders and look down to witness the EIGHT pack that you may never have, but it’s great to see your gut not making the leap into your virtual space.

“I haven’t had a carb since 2004. See these, boys? This is what I live with.”

The audio design was pretty good. Stepping into the ring, as the announcer introduces the two fighters while spotlights swirl from the rafters and the crowd cheers in response, it takes you out of your living room and into the shoes of an up and coming champion. Hearing the “meat pounding” sound with each punch during the fight was irrationally satisfying. As a long time veteran of the Rocky franchise, hearing some of the music from the series’ soundtrack, even at the beginning title screen, gave me chills. How can you hear the trumpet introduction from the Rocky theme (“Gonna Fly Now”) artistically weaved into another Rocky classic (“Going the Distance”) and not conjure up the motivation to truly duke it out on the canvas? I’m listening to it now! I might fight my coworker in the parking lot!

The boxing was impressively responsive and captivating. I never had a problem with the camera tracking my head movements or move wands thanks to Survios’ Phantom Melee Technology which helps with the immersion between your on-screen avatar and real-time bodily movements. Expect to see more of this in future melee-related titles. It also featured a Fluid Locomotion System that they originally displayed in Sprint Vector. It’s been cleverly implemented into your training sessions on the treadmill, as well as the moments where your opponent knocks you out into an out-of-body experience. You’re given the duty of having to “sprint” back to the ring to regain the consciousness of your avatar before the referee counts to ten. The more you’ve been knocked to the canvas, the harder it is to run back to your body, and that makes it even more difficult for your real body to endure the remainder of the match. Talk about clever immersion.

Can’t mess with these hands, “champ”!

I came into the game with a bit of fighting experience but there’s quite a bit that a beginner can legitimately learn from the training mode, even if proficiency isn’t necessarily required to advance. Although I’m a regular gym attendee myself, this game provided a decent workout and even made me sweat heavily after over half an hour of gameplay. It’s got a nice variety of fighters, some even from the 2015 movie, but the game is only about one to two hours long, and that’s including me spending some additional time trying to beat my high scores in the training exercises.

Receive hands-on training from the OG himself, Rocky Balboa

Creed: Rise to Glory is far from a perfect game, and despite my enjoyment of the experience, I do have to be honest and objective with my final verdict. Although the campaign is short, this isn’t a game that most will complete in a single sitting and even if you did, there’s a Free Mode and a PVP mode that gives plenty of reason to come back. Considering the cost of a new blu-ray, I feel that at $29.99 USD ($26.99 with a PS+ membership), the purchase is well justified. I’d gladly spend more for a bonus DLC containing additional venues, fighters, and maybe a cohesive story worth remembering. Maybe I’m just hoping for a sequel. So grab a towel, some bottled water, some petroleum jelly, and lace up those move wands fight fans because the main event is about to begin!!!

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Confucius

Graphics: 6.5

Brilliantly rendered fighters and arenas, but the game features awkward avatar leg movements. Some NPCs feature downright soulless eyes

Gameplay: 7.0

There are some very interesting mechanics implemented in the game, but it could have had a bit more overall polish.

Sound: 7.5

Great sound and music. There are instances of NPCs talking without their mouths opening.

Fun Factor: 8.5

A great workout and tons of fun to the point I couldn’t get enough of, but hindered by the fact that there isn’t much more to be had.

Final Verdict: 7.5

Reviewed on PS4.
Creed: Rise to Glory is available now on PSVR and PC.
A copy of Creed: Rise to Glory was provided by the publisher.