STAFF REVIEW of Rocky (Xbox)

Saturday, February 22, 2003.
by Flood

Rocky Box art "And in the blue corner... RRRRRRRRROOCKYYYYYY BALLLBBBOOOO
. Fans of the Rocky movie's can finally be a part of the movies and fight as the Italian Stallion in all of his memorable matches. I honestly wasn't expecting this game to be that great before I played it. I've never played a decent boxing game before, and I definitely haven't ever played a tolerable game that was based on a movie. But this game changed my opinion on both of those issues. The intro to the game is a nice clip reel from all 5 movies. I have never seen any of the Rocky movies in their entirety, but after playing this game I want to go out and buy them all.

I was really hoping that this wasn't going to be a button masher like so many other boxing games have been. Luckily, it has a better fighting system then most, but not perfect. There isn't a whole lot of variety of punches, but it's enough to make each fight different. Dodging punches is well done. Holding the L trigger and pressing the direction you want to sway works pretty well when you're getting a beating from your opponent. After each round, they show a chart of number of punches thrown and landed, knockdowns, and points earned in the round. While this is shown, each coach gives their respective boxers pep talks, which become quite old after a while. Matches overall are fun, but some might find them to be repetitive. I played through the first 2/5ths of the game and I didn?t encounter any opponents with a unique fighting style or patterns in their punches.
After each match, you are given the ability to increase your stats by exercising in different ways such as jumping rope, speed bag, sit ups, or punch a slab of meat. Doing these tasks manually requires lots of button mashing and/or good timing and will leave your hands sore before the next match. Luckily, there is the option to auto train for each attribute so you can go into the next fight without having to take a 15 minute break. But choose wisely because you only get 2 training sessions before each match.
There are 4 playable modes in the game: story, sparring, exhibition, and knockout tournament. Story mode is where you play as Rocky and fight all the fights he did in the movies in order. Sparring is a practice mode where you can try out new moves on a stationary or fighting opponent. Exhibition is 1-2 players in a single match, where any boxer you have unlocked in story mode is playable. Knockout Tournament is a tournament mode where up to 16 players can fight for the belt. Knockout isn't accessible to start; you have to unlock it by finishing Story mode.

The graphics no where near show Xbox's capabilities. Although not bad, they could definitely be better. The character models look a lot like the actors they are based on from the movies, but have a sort of cartoony/caricature look to them as well. In story mode, Rocky changes to the way he looked in each movie as you progress, including hair style and truck colors. The arenas you fight in aren't that amazing either, but they do its job. Simple crowd movements and the occasional beer can thrown into the ring is the most you get as far as action outside the ring. Before the last match of every movie in story mode, there is a nicely done cut scene about the upcoming fight.

If you like the Rocky Theme ("Gonna Fly Now" by DeEtta Little), then you're in luck because it's played ad nausaum in the game. Every time Rocky comes out and wins a fight, the song is played. Thankfully, for those like me who get annoyed easily by songs played over and over, it can be easily skipped. There isn?t much music besides that song, other than a few bad midi-quality entrances for other boxers.
Punches sound pretty realistic, as do the boxers' grunts.

Develop a little more sophisticated fighting system, don't play the Rocky theme every 10 seconds, and make some new game play modes.

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 6.0 / 10
Sound: 4.0 / 10


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