You know the way your body feels after exercising for the first time in a long time? Or if you’re not the exercising type (I get it), the way you feel after a long day of helping someone move furniture out of their place? That’s exactly how I felt the day after my first time playing Creed: Rise to Glory – Championship Edition on PlayStation VR2. My legs felt like noodles and I hurt in places that I didn’t know I could. Of course, I’m not the spry lad I once was, but wow, I did not expect this game to be such a workout. And I don’t say that as a knock by any means, because while Creed: Rise to Glory establishes itself as killer VR fitness app, it’s also a really fun boxing game.
Story-wise, Creed has two career paths. The Rise to Glory narrative follows Adonis “Hollywood” Creed from the new run of films on his journey as an up-and-coming boxer. It’s extremely brief, taking an hour or two at the most to complete, but the main event here is the boxing itself, which is quite good. The second narrative arc, called Legacy, appears to be tied to events of the recently-released third film in the reboot/sequel series, a movie I haven’t seen, which would explain why I was so lost narratively while playing it.
Once you polish off the career mode, there is a freeplay mode, and online multiplayer to keep you busy. Freeplay lets you engage in one-off fights against opponents of your choice, including some of the legends of Rocky lore like Ivan Drago and the Italian Stallion himself. You can also take part in fitness challenges (which are even more of workout), or brush up on your skills at the various training stations. Multiplayer is a one-to-one of the core gameplay, but I wasn’t able to consistently find matches despite it boasting cross-platform play. Though I did have a cool experience where I fought another player for several rounds, they beat me, and at the end we fist bumped out of mutual respect. Sportsmanship, am I right?
Back in career mode, before heading to the ring for a fight, you’ll first complete training challenges at the gym, which determine how much stamina you’ll have for the upcoming bout. Successfully completing challenges awards stamina on a scale of one to five stars, with stamina affecting how much of a beating you can take during the fight. Training is a series of ultra-fast minigames where you’ll do things like punch a slab of meat (seriously) as rapidly as you can, punch the heavy bag in certain spots in sequence like Whack-A-Mole, or string together a combo as your trainer holds the practice gloves. Training felt inconsistent at times for no real reason, with some sessions seeing you complete more exercises than others, giving you an arbitrary amount of chances to improve your stamina rating.
Once you’re in the ring, you’ll touch gloves with your opponent and get to rumbling – and the rumbling is the best part. The controls are pretty intuitive, as you will move your hands and arms in the same corresponding motion you would in real life to throw a punch. Quickly stick your arm straight out to throw a jab, swing it out wide and back in to throw a hook, or dig from low to high to throw an uppercut. Just watch out for those pesky ceiling fans. You’ll also have to move your hands and arms to block incoming punches accordingly, moving from your torso to your face as needed. It’s probably as close as you’re going to get to boxing in real life without actually doing it. Punches register accurately most of the time, although I did run into some controller tracking issues which would leave my hands out of place occasionally on-screen. But landing a properly placed combo of punches never got old, which was enhanced by the Sense controllers’ haptics on PS VR2.
Creed became a bit too challenging for me on the standard difficulty, but that is probably just a me problem. I’ve documented before here on Gaming Nexus how my reflexes simply aren’t what they used to be in games, which has stymied my skill level in titles that require quick twitch reactions. Not to mention, Creed is the most physical experience I’ve had thus far in VR, so I may have been getting fatigued to boot. No matter what difficulty you’re on, you’ll be relying on learning an opponent’s attack patterns to know when and where to block. Each boxer seemed to have their own style and go-to strikes, which keeps you on your toes. Watching their body movements for cues, using your hands to block while simultaneously using your legs and torso to duck and dodge is why the game is such a workout. Properly timing a dodge triggers a brief moment of slow motion that allows you to counter with a walloping blow, which is extremely satisfying. Regardless of who I was fighting, and no matter their fighting style, a strong left hook proved to be my Achilles heel time and time again. Hey, we all have our weaknesses!
As you wear down your opponent, you can trigger what I’m going to call a “rubber duck sequence” (I think the game calls it a swarm) where time slows and you can land a quick flurry of strikes in highlighted spots. But be on guard, because your opponent can do the same to you, especially if you burn up stamina throwing too many punches at one time. If you fail to block their barrage, you’ll be knocked down, which requires you to rapidly shake the controllers like you’re running for your life to get back up. Get knocked down too many times and you run the risk of getting knocked out altogether, with each time you get knocked down becoming more difficult to run back towards the light.
If everything I’ve described so far sounds like exercise, that’s because it is. Boxing is a high-intensity sport in real life of course, but as I said earlier, I definitely underestimated how much of a workout Creed would be. That’s not a negative in my book, as I could certainly use the exercise, and I’d much rather be whipping up on virtual dudes than running around my neighborhood (yuck!). In fact, I can see myself popping the game on for a quick 30-minute workout a few times a week. My Apple Watch told me I burned 534 calories during my first play session, in which I was dripping sweat, huffing, puffing, the whole nine yards. That night in bed my shoulders were sore, and the next day at work my legs hated me. Despite the workout it gives you, Creed is an extremely comfortable VR game to play. There is not a lot of free movement, which helps; you do move your character with the left stick, but it’s pretty infrequent. You’re mainly standing in front of your opponent, bobbing and weaving while mixing in your punches. I never felt ill or nauseous, which is amazing for a game that requires this much physical exertion.
Outside of hopping into the real life ring, Creed: Rise to Glory is probably as close as you’re going to get to duking it out for a heavyweight title. It’s a physically-taxing experience that some won’t be able to handle, and there’s also some minor frustrations with training and controller tracking on PS VR2. Still, when the punches start flying and you feel like a movie star boxer, you can’t help but have fun. If you’re looking for good boxing, a decent workout, or both, you won’t be disappointed with Creed: Rise to Glory.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
Hello! I'm Jason, the newest member of Gaming Nexus. My favorite genres of games are strategy, management, city-builders, sports games, RPGs, and shooters, but I don't limit myself to those. My favorite game of all-time is Red Dead Redemption 2 and I have somehow played it for nearly 1,000 hours. I also co-host a weekly PlayStation news podcast called The Dual Sense Podcast, so I stay pretty well versed in that ecosystem. Before that, I co-hosted a basketball podcast.View Profile