Title: Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions
Release Date: September 3, 2021
Reviewed On: PS4
Publisher: Deep Silver
Video games set in the Rocky cinematic universe are few and far between. Still, despite being average-at-best boxing games, they’re made by fans for fans and serve as a virtual recreation of iconic moments from the legendary films. As Creed carries the torch to continue the cinematic boxing legacy, so will the video game adaptations.
It wasn’t long ago when Creed: Rise to Glory transported players a pretty cool VR boxing experience, and following its positive reception is this new game, Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions. The second official Creed video game is a little more traditional, opting for a controller instead of having you swing fists with a VR headset on.
Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions is less Fight Night and more Ready 2 Rumble Boxing, the latter being a nostalgic classic in the SEGA Dreamcast library. Creed Champions is an arcade slugger and takes after the forgotten Dreamcast launch title in many ways, which is honestly a good thing. It may not have all the elements that make up boxing a sport, but it uses enough of them to create an enjoyable fighting game anyone can pick up and have fun with. While it may be quite straightforward on the surface, some surprising nuances to the fighting system add variety to the gameplay.
The controls are uncomplicated, with dedicated buttons for quick jabs, strong punches, grapples, dodges, blocks, and of course, the super move. These moves become second nature quickly, especially when the basic combo conventions resemble Tekken rather than a typical boxing video game. If you’ve ever played as Steve Fox in the Tekken games, the basic flow of combat will feel quite familiar in Creed Champions.
Mixing up quick and strong punches allows you to chain up combination punches that usually end on a critical strike. Executing punches while dodging can allow you to land some blindsiding hits. Fill up the special meter, and you can land an impressive special attack, which can be dodged or blocked if timed right. There are other nuances, such as staggering opponents, bouncing them off the ropes, or even trapping them into the corner.
The main objective of each fight is to knock your opponent down for the ten count after depleting their health, and each knockdown scores you a point. Between rounds, you recover a little health too. Deplete all four health meters, and you can score a total knockout. If anything, it will almost always inevitably come down to fully depleting a health meter. When on the receiving end of a knockdown, answering the ten count involves tapping a button to fill up a meter. It’s all pretty straightforward in execution, but the more you get into it, the more you can appreciate the creativity involved in dishing out an offensive flurry.
What helps with the gameplay variety is how each of the 20 boxers featured actually play differently, so it’s worth diving into their move set. The main objective to chase in the game is unlocking new characters and costumes, and this can be done by completing fights in versus mode until you’re able to challenge a new fighter to unlock, sort of like in Smash Bros., or you can complete the arcade story mode to unlock new characters and costumes.
The arcade mode serves as a story mode, and each playable character has their own path. This game is set as a side story following the events of the movie Creed II, and to be honest, the material here isn’t all that great or interesting. The most interesting story mode is probably that of Rocky, as he takes a trip down memory lane and relives some of his most iconic battles. The cut scenes are presented in visual novel style, but the writing and delivery are just so dry and boring.
Between story mode, fights are occasional montage mini-games, and these don’t do anything for character progression, as they’re simply about chasing a high score. Instead, these mini-games are simple rhythm-based distractions and offer a brief amusement to add some filler and variety between fights. At least you get to punch some beef in the process.
Creed Champions offers solid and entertaining boxing gameplay, so not having online multiplayer is disappointing, but this was obviously planned and intended. The enemy AI can be fun as you progress through arcade mode and engage new challengers to unlock. If you happen to have the right company, the game can be quite a blast in couch multiplayer. In terms of other features, there’s a training mode to practice your moves and some written tutorials, which basically serve as the instruction manual.
Complementing the arcade-style gameplay are vibrant, colorful visuals, and for the most part, this is an entertaining game to watch. Still, as evident in the dry story mode presentation, Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions just doesn’t use enough of its rich source material to bolster its presentation.
Where past Rocky video game adaptations would make use of clips and assets from the movies, Creed Champions barely scratches the surface. At most, it captures the iconic soundtrack from the movie franchise, and yes, of course, it has Eye of the Tiger.
Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions is one for the movie fans, but it’s also a fun arcade boxing game for anyone who happens to be looking for one. The core boxing action is entertaining, with a wide cast of characters to try out. While the game falls short in its presentation and gameplay modes, there is still enough here to provide a satisfying boxing challenge as you unlock new content and relive your favorite moments from the movies.
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