There's something about beating the living the hell out of an opponent that really excites a man. Never mind that the two combatants are half-naked and sweaty, the blood and bruises is more than enough to counteract any homosexual overtones that the image may provide. So it's no surprise that Ubi Soft's recently released Rocky will instantly garner the interest of any full-blooded male who is looking for some brutal boxing action.
Yes it has a movie license but there's a twist, it doesn't suck! That's right, not even the Minority Reports of gaming can bring this puppy down. Why's that exactly? Because even if you take away the major motion picture license you still have a title that manages to succeed due to its excellent core gameplay.
The game is (you guessed it) about boxing and more specifically, about boxing other combatants from Rocky I-V (in case you're keeping track at home that's 1-5). This means that you'll get to take on series mainstays like Apollo Creed I and II and more importantly Mr. T. That's right, Mr. T is in the game, complete in all his pre-1-800-collect glory. You can do combat with Rocky's foes via the main single-player aspect, the movie mode. In it you'll take control of Rocky as he progresses through all five of his movies, taking on all comers and culminating in the final street fight from Rocky V. Each of them retain the same look and feel of their movie counterparts and more importantly, their fighting styles.
The fighting is actually pretty simple to get in to, yet difficult to master. Learning how to combine and chain together combos is the order of the day here. If you want to be succesful in the latter stages you'll have to learn how to fight obediently and patiently. It's all about waiting for an opening and then capitalizing on your opponent's mistakes. Did he just throw an arrant uppercut? Then lead with the left jab and follow up with a right hook. You can fight in many different styles, from the straight up brawler to the speedy jabber, it's all here. Four areas are mapped out to the buttons on the face of the controller, left jab, left body jab, right straight, and right body straight. The R1 button and up and down on the control pad act as modifiers, allowing you to pull off hooks and uppercuts. Combos are performed via logic, for instance you'll most likely want to lead with the jab and then link from there. You won't want to start with an uppercut and head to the jab from there, it's just illogical.
For the most part the game is pretty fun to play, I found the brand of action to be much more realistic than what Knockout Kings can provide. Most of the fighting is much more strategic here than in other games. While you can very well button-mash your way to victory but it's not well suited for this game. Learning the various combos proves to be vital to your success.
You can build up your character in the Movie Mode via training sessions that take place between bouts. I'm not really a big fan of these as they boil down to be nothing more than a group of thinly disguised mini-games. Some of them are much more difficult than they need be, especially the jump roping excercise that resembles a game of Britney's Dance Beat. In a nice move you'll be allowed to auto train, although you'll see a far less significant increase in ability.
In terms of graphics appeal the game doesn't look too bad, Rocky and the rest of the crew look more or less like their movie counterparts. The builds of the characters are far too similar though as it seems like you're always fighting the same guy, just with a different head. The arenas look very nice though as the variety if quite prevalent. There are excellent locales such as a local gym and of course, the Las Vegas-esque outdoor arena. All of them feature nice touches, especially the huge-indoor arena with the jumbo tron that showcases the current action.
The audio in the game is pretty nice too, featuring some rather competant voice acting. I can't remember any of the movies (they did come out in the 80s after all) but from what I can tell it appears that the voices were performed by the real life actors. What's strange is that the voice acting comes in during the pre-rendered cutscenes, couldn't they just lift the scenes from the movies?
This game's Achilles' Heel lies in its repetitiveness. It's really lacking in variety and features. The Movie Mode goes by far too quickly and most of the time, your opponents are nothing more than fodder. The lack of a create-a-boxer option really hurts this game's value immensely, wouldn't it have been great to have been able to put yourself into the movies? Of course the fact that the boxers are mainly cookie-cutter carbon copies with different names brings this game down a few notches as well.
In the end this is a nice little title that provides a little something for Rocky fans as well as boxing fans. You don't have to be a fan of Rocky to enjoy this game nor do you have to be a huge fan of boxing. It's a fun little game that allows you to do what you've always wanted to do, beat your opponents into submission.
This movie-licensed video game is actually a better boxing title than EA Sports' Knockout Kings, and while it's far from perfect, it's a great boxing title in its own right.
Rating: 8.3 Good
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I can still recall many a lost nights spent playing Gyromite with that stupid robot contraption for the old NES. While I'm not as old as the rest of the crew around these parts, I still have a solid understanding of the heritage and the history of the video gaming industry.
It's funny, when I see other people reference games like Doom as "old-school" I almost begin to cringe. I bet that half of these supposed "old-school" gamers don't even remember classic games like Rise of the Triad and Commander Keen. How about Halloween Harry? Does anyone even remember the term "shareware" anymore? If you want to know "old-school" just talk to John. He'll tell you all about his favorite Atari game, Custer's Revenge.
It's okay though, ignorance is bliss and what the kids don't know won't hurt them. I'll just simply smile and nod the next time someone tells me that the best entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was Final Fantasy VII.
When I'm not playing games I'm usually busy sleeping through classes at a boring college in Southern Oregon. My current hobbies are: writing songs for punk rock bands that never quite make it, and teasing Bart about... well just teasing Bart in general. I swear the material writes itself when you're around this guy. He gives new meaning to the term "moving punching bag."
As for games, I enjoy all types except those long-winded turn-based strategy games. I send those games to my good pal Tyler, I hear he has a thing for those games that none of us actually have the time to play.
When I'm not busy plowing through a massive pile of video games I spend all of my time trying to keep my cute little girl fed. She eats a ton but damn she's so hot. Does anyone understand the Asian girl weight principal? Like they'll clean out your fridge yet still weigh less than 110 pounds.
Currently I'm playing: THUG, True Crime, Prince of Persia, Project Gotham 2 and Beyond Good & Evil. View Profile