When I checked out Creed: Rise to Glory back during E3, I have one memory that stands out. This is of one of the developers telling me that her favorite part of the game was that, whenever you looked down, you have Michael B. Jordan’s abs. Naturally, the first thing I did was look and spot that, indeed, I had Michael B. Jordan’s abs. After spending time with Creed, I believe it’s possible to obtain a similar glorious body just by playing it. I came away from every match sweating, tired, aching, and feeling like I just went through a killer workout. Then I dove back in because it turns out that punching people in the face is pure fun.
The game’s career mode takes place over seven fights, with each fight having a training montage before it. These montages feel pulled straight out of a Rocky movie, even featuring the iconic theme song. You’ll be performing some simple minigames, such as running on a treadmill, speed punching a sandbag, or using precision punches on a dummy. There are twelve different minigames in all, and thankfully each one is actually fun.
It may seem strange to tire yourself out training right before a fight, but how well you do actually affects Donnie’s performance in the ring. You’re graded on how many minigames you manage to complete. The more you complete, the more stamina Donnie has as he goes into the next fight. It’s a good way to make it feel like the training montages actually matter, and that you need to train for the fights rather than lazily hop into the ring and swing away.
When you do hop into the ring, your task is to punch your opponent until they fall down. Sound easy? Well, don’t get too excited just yet. You can’t just flail your arms about and hope for the best. Each time you punch you’ll use up a bit of stamina, which in turn can make your punches slower and weaker. You only want to make a few jabs before putting your guard up by using the back of your fists to block attacks until your stamina recovers.
Just like the minigames outside the arena, there’s a few that happen in the middle of the fight depending on the conditions. Donnie has an “out of body” experience once he’s knocked down. Here you’ll need to run back to your body so you regain consciousness, a which is a cool mechanic that serves as a clever idea. If you dodge attacks at the right time then you can briefly enter into slow motion to get a few free shots on your enemy. Knock them down enough and there’s also a chance you can trigger a flurry attack, allowing you to dash in close and score some free rapid hit punches.
All of these make a fighting game that is, above everything else, fun. Creed: Rise to Glory‘s boxing is the glue that holds the game together, and it’s some tough stuff. The feeling of successfully blocking a few punches before countering and smacking a guy right in the face? It’s fantastic. Each fight did leave me physically tired though. A lot of swinging and punching needs to happen. Between matches, I need to go drink water to cool down or wipe away some sweat from my head. If you’re looking for a real workout, this is probably one of the first games I’d genuinely think of.
Between rounds, you can wander around the gym. Here you can freely play any of the game’s twelve minigames to compete for high scores, listen to a radio show that gives some in-game news on boxing events, or just explore. There’s not really much to see or interact with, but it’s a fun little way to pass the time and catch your breath after a match.
While the boxing is fun, one thing Creed: Rise to Glory fails to do is capture the actual rise to glory featured in the movie. The first half of the career mode doesn’t actually feature a story, just Donnie participating in random fights. The second half tries a super bare-bones retelling of Creed, but this reduced down to a few random lines and a single flashback. It hits none of the drama notes that the movie did, and ends with a totally random left field fight not actually in the movie. The only real saving grace is that Michael B. Jordan himself returned to voice Donnie. Even then, he often sounds bored and has very little dialogue. Before you get excited: there is no sign of Sylvester Stallone anywhere. Just a decent enough impersonator that, again, has very few lines to work with.
It took me about two hours to finish the career mode. After doing so I could access free play, which allowed me a chance to box with anyone in the game. I also could replay training montages from here, though in the end this is all just replaying things I’ve already played.
More interestingly, there’s an online boxing mode that allows you to fight another player. This is a cool way to extend the life of the game, especially since a VR fighting game has a ton of potential for entertainment. Getting to box with an actual human being is an interesting change, as I couldn’t rely on obvious tells or scripted movements to know where to block. On the other hand, I found it to be a bit wonky, as leaning backward and getting low makes it extremely difficult to take a punch. It feels like a way to cheaply cheese the game.
Despite this, I still had a great time with Creed: Rise to Glory. It’s nice to see a licensed game both take full advantage of VR and also bring something really interesting to the table. Fans of both the movie and boxing games should get a kick out of fighting virtual opponents, and those looking for a work out will probably come away sweating. Let’s just hope future license adaptions can be this good.
TechRaptor reviewed Creed: Rise to Glory on PlayStation VR using a copy provided by the publisher. The game is also available on HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.
Creed: Rise to Glory's boxing manages to hold the game together, and exceeds what I'd expect from a licensed VR game. This is well worth playing for anyone looking to punch a face or two in VR.
- Boxing is Pure Fun
- Great Training Montages Before Fights
- Neat Fighting Mechanics
- Rocky's Soundtrack
- Story Never Shows Up
- Online is Too Easy to Cheese
- Not Much Content