There has been a bizarre lack of boxing games in recent years. In fact, the genre has been non-existent with the last title coming in the form of Fight Night Champion over a decade ago. This is a little unusual as boxing is still a hugely popular sport with a massive following worldwide. With the UFC titles becoming increasingly popular, it surely is a no-brainer for the sport of boxing to make a return at some stage.
The wait is finally over as Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions enters the ring in the first entry to the genre since the Xbox 360 era. Developed and published by Survios, this isn’t your general boxing experience. There is a huge load of history to gloss over and stories to tell as we relive moments from the Rocky and Creed movies.
Everyone has seen Rocky, right?
I am not going to go through the entire timeline of the Rocky films, but the 1976 first entry blossomed an entire series spanning over 40 years. Amazingly the incredibly talented Sylvester Stallone penned the idea of Rocky Balboa on scraps of paper in just three and a half days. This was shortly after watching a championship match between Muhammad Ali and Chuck Wepner in 1975. Stallone denied that there was any inspiration from Wepner and was subsequently sued, Sylvester settled for an undisclosed amount.
The film went onto become the highest-grossing movie of 1976 despite being produced and shot on a budget of just short of a million dollars. 225 million dollars later, Stallone’s career was solidified and this paved the way for many sequels and a satisfying storyline with believable characters and an exciting future. Spawning fictional boxers such as Clubber Lang, Ivan Drago, Tommy Gunn, Spider Rico, Apollo Creed, and Rocky Balboa himself, this game will cover most of the roster off with a story for each individual.
Lets get ready to rumble!
There are a few options to start you off, arcade or versus. Arcade mode allows you to select one of ten available boxers which will then trigger their story. I won’t spoil things too much for you, but Rocky Balboa’s storyline involves a conversation with Adonis Creed and revisiting specific moments from the iconic films. It was surprising to see how much effort and detail had gone into the dialogue and accuracy of the moments of the past. What was even more pleasing is how every boxer’s history was different but often intertwined with someone else’s story. You will quickly learn that this isn’t about a deep realistic version of the sport itself, but more of a nostalgic dip back into the excellent series of Hollywood blockbusters.
Versus mode is simply an opportunity to invite your friends to glove up and step in the ring. Here you’ll be able to flex those muscles and engage in competitive head-to-head matches. It was disappointing not to see any online multiplayer but admittedly I did not expect it. A layer of being able to compete with human players on the fly with Rocky Balboa seems an exciting prospect. I do urge you to play this against someone if you can as it really does add an extra level of enjoyment on top of everything on offer in the arcade side of the game.
A trip down memory lane!
Now if you’ve watched any of the Rocky movies, then immediately everything you see in the game you will find an instant connection with. Fear not though. the development team has done a fantastic job at echoing the links between characters by a conversation between fights. Whilst you’ll only hear slight glimmers of Stallone saying the odd word, the rest is text-based so you’ll have to stick your reading glasses on. Working through each fighter took approximately 45 minutes to finish, so you’re looking at around 9-10 hours to finish unlocking the missing ten boxers. These are rewarded with finishing each story along with cosmetics to add some different clothing options.
Enough about the storyline, what’s the gameplay like?
The boxing fanatics out there may be wondering how the game plays when it actually comes to stepping through the ropes. The answer may be disappointing to some as I’d compare how it all handles to titles like Ready 2 Rumble boxing way back in 1999 on Sega Dreamcast. This is not a realistic simulation of the sport by any means. There is an element of tactics and duck and weave, especially in the more challenging fights. If you find things a breeze you can notch the difficulty up which I found more enjoyable as it was less predictable. For example, on the easiest difficulty, it is possible to button mash your way through and win with ease. Also, you saw your opponent getting up after the same number of seconds with each knockdown. I would have liked these moments to be more spontaneous and different each time. Playing in a harder setting makes you think about your next move when to dodge, block and clinch and creates more tense moments.
The control system is simple enough for casual and hardcore players alike. The X button launches into a flurry of light punches whilst Y converts into harder blows. There are health bar indicators that deplete similar to games like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. When these turn from green to red, you will want to be cautious as you won’t be getting back up off the canvas after losing your red bar. Landing successful hits will build up a special power meter in the bottom corner of the screen. Once this is full you will want to pick the right moment to unleash this with the left trigger. Each boxer has a unique animation for this where he will deal devastating blows, these have to be unleashed at the correct moment as they can be dodged or blocked. You will find that a KO will be granted at the third time of flooring someone or when the conventional ten-second countdown is up.
Graphics and Sound
Visually, Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions is pleasing enough. It isn’t winning any awards in the graphics department anytime soon but everything displayed is warm and colourful. The arcade-style gameplay emits sparks when landing hits and flushes of blue or red when throwing punches. Probably their best achievement is the character likeness is real close to the mark with most of the boxers. The dialogue is presented neatly and clear and easy to read, although sometimes the reading became a bit mundane. With no voice acting it does impact the game a little.
The audio is excellent with a mixture of hip-hop music and the original hits from the Rocky films like “Eye of the Tiger” ringing out during the game. Sound effects were as you’d expect them to be in a game of this genre. Whilst some voice acting would have been welcomed, this would be difficult unless you called upon the original actors.
I went in blind with Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions not knowing quite what to expect. This is a game that takes you on a journey of the Rocky and Creed films rather than offers a true boxing simulation experience. This is fine if you are a big fan of the movies, but those expecting some real competition will more than likely be disappointed. There is fun to be had by listening to each story and unlocking all the characters. Beyond this though, there appears to be no reason to revisit unless you want some fun with family and friends from the comfort of your own home. Online multiplayer would have been an absolute blast here with some minor stat tracking elements. It isn’t quite the knockout game I expected but I was glad to have relived memories of Stallone and friends once more.