Everything hurts this morning. My arms are heavy, my sides are sore, and my feet aren't particularly happy with me. I feel it when I twist, I feel it when I sit still, and I absolutely feel it as I pick my Oculus Touch controllers back up to jump back into the game that did this to me.
This isn't the first time a VR game has left me feeling this way. In fact, when I see the name Survios flash before me in my headset, I already know I'm going to feel it the next day. The latest title from Survios is its first game featuring a story and characters it didn't create internally. Instead, you're stepping into the body of Adonis "Hollywood" Creed as he fights his way through the plot points of the first Creed movie. But like any good VR game, your success depends on your ability to successfully land an actual punch with your actual arm instead of how quickly you can press the right button on a controller.
I've sweat my way through dozens of fights on multiple platforms, and can safely say there's very little chance I'm going to be putting this game down any time soon. No matter how sore I am the next day.
About this Review
I'm writing this review after playing through the entire "Campaign" mode on Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR, but online gameplay only on Oculus Rift. My total gameplay time as of this writing is 11 hours.
Creed: Rise to Glory What I like
As a fan of Creed, and the Rocky movies which proceeded it, stepping into this world and being able to look around is a dream. You look down and see a full body beneath your chin. You can walk around each gym and take in the spectacular detail, from the artwork on the walls to the real feel of the punching bags as you swing at them. You walk up to Rocky, the man himself, and ask to be trained for the next fight. It's super cool, and exactly the kind of experience you expect to have in a VR game.
Each match in the "Campaign" mode starts with a training session. You have to prove you're ready for the fight by completing a series of workouts, and you're rated by how quickly you can complete those workouts. Sometimes you're lighting up a heavy bag with as many rapid punches as possible, other times you're running on a treadmill in front of you using the movement mechanic Survios perfected in Sprint Vector. These training sessions get your blood pumping, get you thinking about how to land a hit, and get you ready for a fight in the ring.
The best part this game is how good it is at making you want to keep playing it.
When the fight actually starts, it feels about as real as a VR boxing match can feel. You have to throw a punch hard to land a punch hard, and the announcers will call you out if you're not punching hard enough. You can't just throw wild punches, either, you need to be strategic. Dodging happens in the real space around you, so you need to duck and step to the left and right and follow up with blocks and punches off your own. If your VR environment is set up for a large open space, you can really move and react in real time.
There are some less realistic elements which make it feel like a game, but I think they help keep you focused instead of distracting you from the realism. If you dodge at just the right moment, time slows a bit so you can land that perfect punch. If you're just throwing wild punches left and right, Creed becomes exhausted and your arms fall out of sync with his until he recovers. Feeling your arms disconnect from his is just disorienting enough to make you pay attention to what happens next, which is great. Finally, if you're at risk of being knocked out, you get this zoomed out experience where you have to "run" back to your body before the countdown ends so you can get back in the fight. I thought these things would make the act of boxing feel less authentic, but the more I played the more I appreciated these focus points to keep me in the world.
Creed: Rise to Glory What I don't like
From your starting bout to the fight with Ricky Conlan towards the end of the "Campaign" it's clear you're reliving big moments from the film. Weirdly, there's no mention of the events in the new Creed movie due out in mere weeks, but it's cool to get these glimpses into the journey he takes through the first story. Unfortunately, like many VR games, this journey is terribly short. You can play through the Creed "Campaign" mode in 2-3 hours with no problem. That 2-3 hours is highly physical and you will absolutely be tired by the end, but from a story perspective, it's embarrassingly short. There's a lot about the Creed/Rocky universe you can have fun here, but it's clear the gameplay focus is in online competition.
Survios has done a great job maintaining its excellence in online gameplay in Creed, and with this title launching on all major VR platforms simultaneously, there will be plenty of people to play with, which is great as long as you enjoy online play. For those who want to share with friends or give them a glimpse of what the world is like, there's a free play mode where you can join specific fights or travel through the different training modes. It's great for sharing, but the lack of a global scoring system for free play fights means there's less chance of this game being used for VR Workouts. Not a huge deal, but it demonstrates the focus for Survios is having people play online and not much else.
My only other complaint about this game has less to do with the game itself and more the limitations of the PlayStation VR system. The tracking system on that platform makes dodging around your opponent without losing tracking very difficult, which means you're more likely to stand still for a lot of the fights. For Windows-based VR headsets, this means a nontrivial number of your online combatants are going to be far less physical in the way they move and react to you, which may make online gameplay less compelling. It's a difficult balance to strike with PSVR, and to Survios' credit when you're in that headset the gameplay is still a ton of fun, but the limitations become obvious when you step into a Vive or a Rift with three or more tracking sensors set up.
Creed: Rise to Glory Should you buy it?
The biggest takeaway from the game is fun. Where other VR boxing games focus on almost mini-game style boxing experiences you only want to play for a few minutes at a time, Creed delivers a complete boxing experience. I have never been so to be so sore. The best part of this game is how good it is at making you want to keep playing it, even when you're totally spent. That's an experience Survios has repeatedly demonstrated it does better than anyone, and after a couple of days in this world, all I can say is I want more. A lot more. Right now.
- Ridiculously fun boxing gameplay.
- Beautiful recreation of the movie.
- Very short story.