Boxing games have come and gone, usually sporting a license from a top-of-the-line boxer in order to give the title more recognition. Rage's Rocky falls in that category as its license will undoubtedly please hordes of gamers; however, Rocky is far from a mere boxing match, and Ubi Soft's intentions are not to just bring you a boxing game with Rocky as a selectable character, but rather, to bring the whole Rocky experience right to your PlayStation 2.
The roster that makes up Rocky's competitors includes basically every fighter he's stepped in the ring with in regards to the Rocky series. Such fighters as Dipper Brown, Spider Rico, and Mr. T will all be amongst the 20 some-odd competitors, and impressively, they all resemble their real life counterparts quite convincingly in addition to their aural-likenesses, as well.
While the game is a boxing title at heart, it's actually a lot more evolved, and in Movie Mode you'll venture into the rigorous quest Rocky endured throughout the whole series. One by one, you'll fight and ultimately take down the competitors in the same order as in the movies. As an opponent falls to the mighty Balboa gloves, that character will then be unlocked to use in the other modes. Additionally, each event will take place in the appropriate setting; so your fight against Creed will take place in Liberty Hall, so on and so forth.
Movie Mode is touchingly split up with cut-scenes and bits to better represent a story instead of merely an arrangement of fights. Many prominent scenes and pieces, classics to the series, will be shown amidst and in-between fights. Furthermore, many classic sayings and words have been recorded straight from the films and implemented into the single-player experience. All in all, it shapes up and rounds out quite nicely.
An integral part of boxing is training, training, and more training. As you train in Rocky, it'll augment your player's abilities, similar to a created player-type skill set. Rated in the categories of stamina, speed, strength, movement, and determination, you can gain points and build until you get to 100, which is the apex of each category. Your boxer starts out with 15 initially, and competing in quick training gives your boxer 5 points automatically; up to 10 points in conventional training, which is a individual mini game for each. While it may seem easy to build up to the 100 points initially, the mini games' difficulty will increase steadily as your player's skill in that particular category increases.
Actually boxing is where the game gets quite fun. There are different variations in techniques, and you'll even have to change your techniques and primary game plan at times according to what your opponent's is. Some players are quick and their advantages let them move around quickly and throw lighting fast punches, but at the same time, the bigger player can usually endure more punishment as well as being able to throw those bricks at your head. But either way, each game-style has its weaknesses and advantages, which is why you'll have to plan ahead to see how you'll need to box against certain players.
The pace of the game is somewhat arcadish, but at the same time, a lot more thought process is required in order to defeat the tougher competitors. Button mashing just won't get the job done here, thankfully, as too many games these days let you get away with that cheap play-style. Each boxer also has a special punch or move, too, which is executed with the right combination of buttons. The number of punches you can execute is quite impressive, totaling to eight basic punches: low and high punches with the right and left and four different uppercuts. Landing sequential blows will sometimes open the other player up. In such cases, they'll take more damage and get hurt more excessively with any further punches that are landed.
While the expensive licenses usually hint that the final product will be quite mediocre, Rocky seems somewhat different. If Rocky stays on track the game will seemingly be one to experience.
9/25/2002 Joseph Comunale