If there’s one sport that destined to benefit from virtual reality, it’s boxing. Swinging punches, blocking, and weaving as you attempt to beat the pulp out of an opponent was made for VR. The question is, does Creed: Rise to Glory meet expectations now that the technology exists?
Creed is a video game tie-in to the rebooted Rocky franchise. If you haven’t seen the movie, or any Rocky movie (how dare you), don’t worry; it loosely follows some plot points, but is easy to enjoy with little or no knowledge of the franchise. This is a game that is all about the quality of its gameplay.
In the campaign mode, players control Adonis Creed, son of Apollo Creed, as he attempts to earn a shot at – and win – the championship belt. It spans seven fights, with workout mini-games between bouts, and can be beaten inside of a few hours.
I say it can be beaten inside of a few hours, but not being a regular gym-goer (unless Pokemon counts?), it took me three evenings to finally lift the championship title. I didn’t have the stamina to fight each bout one after the other all in one evening – three fights was my limit, especially when losing and having to repeat fights. Your mileage will vary depending on your physical fitness.
That is the key difference with VR compared to playing games with a gamepad on a chair – you are the boxer. You are swinging. You are stepping out of harm’s way and trying to connect with a hook before your opponent recovers. It is all on you. Not only is it incredibly immersive, but it is also a decent workout. Your arms will grow heavy and your muscles will have a slight burn in the morning.
Each fight in the campaign mode starts with a training session. You complete a series of workouts to provide that you’re ready to fight your opponent, and you’re rewarded with more stamina in the ring if you perform well. While this gives you more of an advantage in the ring, it isn’t a necessity, at least not at lower difficulty settings.
When it comes to fights, you will feel like a real prizefighter. Fans surround the ring, their cheers and chants deafening as the ring announcer introduces you. Don’t feel bad for raising your arms to milk the applause. Creed’s presentation is superb and the level of immersion is incredible.
You’ll feel like you’re watching a pay-per-view event, only with a pair of boxing gloves and a job to do, rather than a bowl full of chips. But that’s okay, because the gameplay is just as excellent as the visuals. Not only do you have to dodge incoming attacks and wait for openings, but Creed tracks the amount of power that you’re putting on attacks. If you throw a soft, wild punch, it will do less damage than one powerful right hook to the jaw. Strategy and power go hand in hand.
Those concerned with Creed’s relatively short campaign need not worry. There are versus modes, single player bouts and increased difficulty levels to invest your time in. Sports games should rarely be judged on the length of their story modes because the real depth comes in mastering the gameplay, cranking up the difficulty settings and testing yourself. This becomes even more true when you’re wearing a VR headset and putting yourself through the challenge physically.
Creed: Rise to Glory is $29.99/£23.79 on Steam and at that value, it has to be considered a must-buy for those even remotely interested in the sport of boxing.
The sense of immersion is absolutely mind-blowing. You will feel like you are standing in a boxing ring in front of tens of thousands of paying fans, staring down a pumped-up opponent who wants to destroy you. That sensation alone is worth the price of admission, but the stellar gameplay and challenging campaign mode will keep you coming back for more on higher difficulty settings.
If you own a VR headset, this is an essential purchase.