It’s been a little while since Sylvester Stallone graced our screens as one of his most memorable of characters – that of Rocky Balboa. The last time he appeared on the screen was in Creed II, way back in 2018, and although there is due to be a new Creed film (the imaginatively named Creed III) in 2022, Sly has announced he will not be appearing in the movie. With all this in mind, I guess the timing is just about right to bring out a game based on the Rocky movies, isn’t it? The wonderfully named Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions, coming from developers Survios, is that game, and it’s coming out swinging. Pull on your gloves and get in the ring!
Straight away, gamers of a certain vintage will feel right at home with Big Rumble Boxing. Hearing the classic songs from the films, such as Survivor’s seminal “Eye of the Tiger” begin to play as you start to win a fight while playing as Rocky, gives you that extra spur to go the distance. It is surprising how much the soundtrack of the game begins to draw you into the action, to make you care about how the fights are going and so on. It is good proof, were any required, that the right choice of music makes a big difference to a game. Big tick for the audio department here.
Graphically, Big Rumble Boxing is however a bit of an odd one. All the fighters from all the various eras of the Rocky films are drawn together and all look exactly as they did in the films, in their prime. It’s a bit jarring to see young Rocky, for instance, fighting Apollo Creed’s grown up son, when there must be 30 years between them. With a bit of suspension of disbelief, it’s possible to ignore it, but still…
The story of the game seems to be people reminiscing about the past, with Rocky (who of course you’ll want to play as first) relating the tale of his fighting career to Adonis Creed in the gym. Stepping into the ring as Rocky Balboa can never not feel special, and squaring off against classic film baddies like Clubber Lang and Ivan Drago has been a highlight of the game. In a nice touch, as you complete the story mode with each character, their boss character, for want of a better word, is unlocked for you to play with. So Rocky unlocks Apollo Creed and so on and so forth.
The gameplay is very much on the arcade end of whatever scale it is that fighting games are rated on. There is a bit of strategy, with dodges and slips, and even slip counters to use, alongside regular punches and even super attacks. Building up strategies is recommended, and learning the tells of wind up attacks from opponents will allow you to punish them when you block and counter the combos. Like any fighting game, learning the moves will pay dividends in the long run.
Again, taking Rocky as an example, his power attack gives him armour, allowing him to push through an enemy attack, making it a good combo opener. Apollo Creed, on the other hand, has a lot more speed than Rocky, so the style is different, with fast attacks overwhelming opponents. If the opponent blocks, they have a guard meter that can be depleted, and once it’s gone, they will be stunned briefly, allowing you to punish them. Keeping the punches flowing also fills up your Super meter, with these attacks unleashed once the meter is full. Again, these will power through a normal attack, even interrupting an enemy’s Super attack, so timing is vital.
The gameplay is interesting enough to keep you coming back to complete the various stories of different characters, rewarding you with new characters and outfits to unlock by finishing Arcade mode. These fights are interesting and do recreate some great fights from the movies, such as Apollo taking on Drago and actually winning this time, as Rocky is trying to spare Adonis’s feelings.
Another facet that is good is that a couch-based versus mode is included, although there is no online multiplayer, which seems like a bit of a missed opportunity. The multiplayer does work well though, and having roped in my co-reviewer for a few rounds, I soon discovered a universal truth about Rocky is as true as it is for a lot of fighting games: button mashing will always win out over strategy and attempting to play the game as it perhaps should be. Remember when Eddy appeared in Tekken? It’s as bad as that and if your opponent doesn’t know what attack they are going to use, what prayer do you have of countering them?
All in all though Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions is a pretty good representation of the Rocky universe. What it isn’t is as in-depth a game like Street Fighter, but it is very arcade-based, perfect for short blasts and easy to pick up and play for a few rounds. If you are a fan of the films, the chance to take part in some fights from the canon is great, and if you’re not, suffice it to say that this is a fun game. Longevity may be a little short, as each story mode is quite brief, but multiplayer is able to extend that – but only if you have a friend to sit next to you on the sofa.
Step into the shoes of Rocky Balboa in Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One