Developer / Publisher – Survios
Price – US $39.99 / CA $49.99 / EU €39.99 / UK £32.99
Release Date – April 04, 2023
Input – 2 x Sense Controllers
Play Area – Seated, Standing, Roomscale
Store Links – PlayStation
Reviewed on – PS5/PSVR 2
So right off the hop, I really enjoyed the original Creed VR game as it brought something entirely new to my VR gaming in multiplayer boxing with an arcade spin that made it easy to pick up and play with a few nuances that allowed for some boxing strategy. For those familiar with the films, Rise to Glory contains 2 short campaigns that take you through the trilogy or you can play in single sparring matches, an endurance mode to see how long you can fight against foe after foe or take to the gym for some mini-games or even a VR workout session. Toss on the cross-platform multiplayer and, on paper, the package here is a solid one depending upon what you want out of your boxing titles as the arcade nature of this game might not quite be what you are looking for…let me explain.
When it comes to the combat, punching, blocking, and dodging should be fairly obvious as each of those is entirely reliant upon your hand positions and body movements. Where things get a little less simulation is the stamina system which tracks just how often you move your arms so if you’re swinging with reckless abandon, soon enough 1 or both of your arms will fatigue, causing them to move slower and deliver less impact until you keep them still, resting them for a few seconds until they stop glowing and recharge. It’s a system that works to keep players from going to nuts, but I found it to be way to restrictive, forcing much more rest periods than even my out of shape body required and while I found it to be relatively fair mechanic when playing on or offline, an option to remove it completely would go a long way to increasing the realism happening here though I will say the recovery time does feel like it’s been lessened in this version. Other “gaming” mechanics that pop up are when you can perform flurry’s on near defenceless opponents which will be indicated by a fist icon you can punch while your opponent is flailing in slow motion, which lets you move in and strike specific spots highlighted on their body that will knock them down should you hit them all. If you are on the receiving end of these flurry’s, all you can do is weather the storm, only being able to block as you try and regain your stamina. Should you get hit hard, you’ll visually leave your body and need to move your hands into the same positions as your fighters to regain composure with knockdowns doing the same thing but placing you much further from the ring and forcing you to swing your arms to run back to your body and the more times your knocked down, the further you have to run. I really like that last mechanic as it is a fun way to try and recover from a knockdown while still testing my cardio with the other more arcadey moments being fun, but less realistic then I prefer from my boxing games though whether playing single or multiplayer they never feel unfair, they just sometimes get in the way of making this feel like actual boxing.
Playing on medium difficulty, I breezed through the campaign, never losing a single fight minus 1 that I don’t think is winnable as it’s part of the story, typically finishing my opponents in a few rounds or less so for those looking for a lengthy campaign, it’s not really here as this does little more than pick some key moments from the movies while filling it all in with some fights against boxers not seen outside of this game. Each bout is broken up by a training montage that has you playing through mini games like running on a treadmill for a few seconds, hitting and dodging punch bags or your striking coach and yes, punching some frozen meat just like Rocky. The better you do during these sections, the better your stamina will be during your next fight and while they don’t take very long, they do get a little annoying, repeat too often and aren’t too challenging unless I played sitting. On that note, yes this can be played sitting and does work well enough though I did find it harder to block body shots and dodging became near impossible so for those that want or need to play sitting, it’s doable, but that comes with some sacrifice. Additionally, when facing AI players, you can also dodge heavier strikes which could trigger a slow-motion moment letting you deliver an unanswered blow so there are a few other mechanics to look out for.
Outside of the story stuff, you can disable the stamina system but as far as I can tell, that only works against AI foes which is probably my largest issue here as I really do just want to beat up friends and strangers without artificial stamina getting in the way. With that said, I still can’t deny the fun I had hopping online, and trading blows with others as, like I said, despite my misgivings, it still feels like a fair system and even a few rounds did get tiring. I’m not one to whine about being tethered in VR and you can use thumbsticks to move and turn in the ring, but given the competitive intensity that can be involved here, I often found it way easier to move in the real world causing a little bit of cord tangling and reaching the limits of my play area thanks to me physically moving around though as of this review, nothing has been destroyed by my hands just yet. That issue is made somewhat worse by the AI often moving in too close and staying there and while I could back up using thumbsticks, you can only move at one set, slow speed, so I just found it easier to take a step back. At the time of this review, I haven’t been able to beat the game as the final encounter keeps crashing at the same cinematic moment and I also experienced one crash earlier in the story as well as a bout loaded so hopefully this issue is remedied by launch.
As far as the multiplayer goes, you can choose quickmatch which of course pairs you up with a random opponent or you can host a room to invite a friend with both of you appearing in a boxing gym where you can select your fighters and the arena. The only customization option is turn rounds on or off, so you’ll have to test your skills with the in-game stamina on. In my experience the multiplayer worked fine without and notable delay or lag with the largest issue here being that, in my testing, there was no in-game chat working so we had to party up to talk to each other so unless there’s some funny business happening, this is a huge omission from the multiplayer.
Rise to Glory shines with its presentation with a few characters looking great, like Adonis, while others look close, but not quite right like Clubber Lang & Ivan Drago, though their slightly cartoonish representations and outfits still get the job done as far as bringing these characters to VR. For the PSVR 2 release, lighting effects seem to have been overhauled offering a substantial boost in shadows and reflections with Creed never looking better in VR. You’ll fight in a few gyms, arena’s and even some outdoor settings from the movies and each of these has been rendered with a fair bit of detail including full crowds with models that look suspiciously like they came the Saints & Sinners franchise. AI animations are all on point and look fantastic with some slow-mo moments always looking slick and when training in the gym, you’ll be talking to your coach or a few other NPC’s giving this a little more personality. When playing online, animations can look a little more awkward, especially in the leg movements, but given the erratic nature of punching styles, I thought the multiplayer stuff looked alright. My one issue with the presentation is the ring announcer who appears in ring to announce the fighters, but his mouth doesn’t move making him look unfinished considering every one who talks is animated. Fighters will show a little damage in the form of some light bruising and if they do show more than that, my fights ended well before it became visually abusive.
As this game does take place in the Rocky franchise, that classic theme is here in full force plaything throughout the game and while it is a little funny just how much you will hear it, I can’t deny that every time I did, it pumped me up. In between matches your trainers will talk to you and about halfway through the relatively short campaign Rocky shows up to assist you and while he’s not voiced by Stallone, the actor does a good enough job to have me thinking Sly himself played the character, only maybe had a few drinks and a lack of sleep the night before he recorded. A few more characters from the movies show up with the quality of their performances varying but overall, I really can’t find any significant faults when it comes to the presentation.
One of the biggest improvements I expected over the previous version is the haptics so needless to say that what’s here is nothing short of disappointing. When I connected with my punches, the vibrations were so light that I honestly had a hard time telling if I was just making up vibrations in my head. When a punch hit me…anywhere, my head and hands did shake a little, but I’ve felt more powerful shocks from damn near every other game that uses the sense haptics making this area of the game easily the moist disappointing one when it comes to “next gen” upgrades and out of all my issues, this should be fixed as soon as possible.
Bottom line here really is that, if you played any version of this game before, this is the same game with some additional content, cleaned up presentation and underutilized haptics but still has all the limitations from the original release from 5 years ago and that kind of sucks. I’m not saying it’s bad, it just doesn’t really feel like any significant leap outside of the fact that PSVR users now have thumbsticks. The $40 price tag on this feels hefty considering how easy you can cruise through the campaign plus the additional content really is just more of the same stuff, just broken up into 1-off experiences with attached leader boards or workout regimes. Toss in the lack of multiplayer fight options and this has me leery to recommend this to new users as I just don’t think there’s a lot here. I’m told that there is a $20 upgrade path for those that own the PSVR 1 version which is a much easier pill to swallow but unless you’re just dying to box in VR, I’d wait for a sale on this one.
Survios provided The VR Grid with a press code for this title and, regardless of this review, we thank them for that!