Rocky (PS2)

Review

posted 1/6/2003 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: PS2
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.
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