Boxing seems like the perfect sport to be represented in virtual reality, right? We’ve seen titles like Knockout League offer a Punch Out-esque experience that feels like a fighting-puzzler, but it’s a surprise that no one has brought out a bona fide boxing title yet.

Enter Creed: Rise to Glory – a boxing sim from Survios, the team behind the brilliant virtual reality titles Raw Data and Sprint Vector. With an established virtual reality team on board and a great boxing licence, you’d think it’d make for an amazing title. However, whilst it certainly packs a punch in some areas, Creed: Rise to Glory also falters in others.

Despite being based on the movies, Creed: Rise to Glory isn’t really an overly cinematic title. You’re fighting to be champ and have to go through training and build-up fights, and sure, there are moments where a bit of a narrative twist is added to these showdowns. For the most part though there’s not a whole lot to be seen between each fight – it’ll only take around two hours to clear the story too, so it’s not a meaty experience on that front.

Given that the game is based around a boxing movie and not the sport itself I expected a little bit more on this front. There’s a lot of history to its characters and there’s a strong focus on the relationship that protagonist Adonis Creed shared with deceased father Apollo and current trainer Rocky, but it’s not something that’s explored in much depth during the game. It’s a little disappointing.

Creed: Rise to Glory

At least the gameplay delivers a bit more though, with it split between taking part in training mini-games and hitting the ring for fights against other competitors.

The mini-games consist of things like running on the treadmill and hitting the pads and bags – however, in Creed: Rise to Glory they’re presented in a montage-style, which anyone who’s seen the movies will be able to appreciate. They move across different surroundings too, which is a good thing since from a design standpoint they can get a little repetitive. Thankfully, the presentation is varied enough to ensure you don’t grow bored of them.

Creed: Rise to Glory

The fights themselves are great though and always provide plenty of excitement. It feels like a genuine boxing game, with the player having to throw an assortment of hooks, jabs and uppercuts at their opponents, whilst the power you throw them at is also recognised in-game. This is something I actually noticed a lot more of as I tired during fights – those later rounds definitely saw a lack of offence on my part thanks to my aching arms.

On the defensive side you’re able to move your head to avoid incoming attacks and then pull off a slick counter attack, or alternatively hold your hands up to your face to block incoming strikes whilst also recovering your stamina. Both methods work quite well, though blocking in virtual reality is undeniably cool since you can almost feel the incoming punches coming your way. Interestingly, when you’re knocked down you don’t have to try mashing a button to get up, but instead see yourself outside of the ring and having to run to your knocked down body. It’s a very unique take on getting up, but it works well in-game and adds some real tension to trying to find your way to your feet, especially when you start to feel the exhaustion that a prolonged fight brings.

Combine both together and you get a cracking boxing experience. There’s genuine strategy involved in each showdown, both with managing your offensive and defensive manoeuvres as well as working out how best to exploit your foe’s weaknesses. It’ll certainly tire you out though, and you can definitely expect to be aching after an hour or so playing the game. It’s worth it though, especially since it’s so much fun.

Creed: Rise to Glory

Outside of the story mode there’s online multiplayer and freeplay to take on AI opponents. Creed: Rise to Glory offers a genuinely competitive experience that works well in virtual reality, so the inclusion of multiplayer is great. I haven’t taken part in a ton of fights yet, but taking on friends online has been a blast – here’s hoping that there’s an active community for a long time because it’s something I can see myself coming back to.

Whilst the fighting itself is a lot of fun in Creed: Rise to Glory, it could have a few tracking problems during gameplay. You’re going to have to set up your camera perfectly whilst playing the game, whilst you’ll also want to ensure you keep yourself at the right distance. There were more than a few instances where the tracking would go all over the place for me, especially when defending, so it’s imperative you get it set up right from the get go. It’s a shame, but it’s something that’s been an issue on a few PlayStation VR titles.

Creed: Rise to Glory

I also can’t help but to feel that Creed: Rise to Glory could have been a lot more special than it is. Survios have put together a boxing title here that’s both exciting and fun to play, but unfortunately it has been held back a bit by the Creed licence. It would have been something if they actually made an in-depth cinematic experience to go with it, but even that isn’t particularly expanded on. I’d certainly be intrigued to see what Survios could do with an original boxing game with an in-depth career rather than one that’s mostly based upon movies…

Developer: Survios
Publisher: Survios
Platform(s): PlayStation VR (Reviewed), HTC Vive, Oculus Rift