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Rocky (PlayStation 2) artwork

Rocky (PlayStation 2) review

"“Dead meat.”"

Apollo Creed doesn’t know it yet, but his face and Rocky’s fist are scheduled for a very long meeting.

Apollo had a simple plan: Give some chump-wannabe-champ a shot at the title, prep up the match and get the popularity soaring, take the bum down in the first round and smile for the spotlight. A couple of hard knocks to some no-name’s gut and he’s back in the mainstream.

But Rocky Balboa’s not just some smack-and-smile opponent. He’s trained. Become a very dangerous person. Eaten lightning and crapped thunder. This isn’t some joke fight to Rocky, this is his time; his one chance to prove he’s not a nobody to everybody. He’s for real, and Apollo Creed’s about to find it out in three…

”Come on, man, come on! Hit me!”


“Whatcha waiting for? Come on, come on!”


“Come on, hit-“


Rocky hits Apollo once. One uppercut. Apollo falls. The crowd rises. And me, sitting on my bed with a bag of popcorn in hand…I can’t stop laughing.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I love Rocky. The movie, anyway. The game, though…let me put it out plain:

If you don’t like Rocky the movie, you won’t like Rocky the game. Guaranteed. Hell, you probably won’t like it if you do like the movie.

The thing is, as boxing games go, Rocky is average…at best. Oh, sure, the game lets you play as the five main brawlers from the films.

You’ve got the Rock himself…

”Yo Adrian! I love you!”

The Star Spangled Stud, Apollo Creed…

“I want you, chump! You!”

Mr. T, aka Clubber Lang, aka the Baddest Man on the Planet…

“Dead meat.”

The Raging Russian, Ivan Drago…

“I will break you.”

Even Tommy “Machine” Gunn…

[There’d be a quote here, but Tommy Gunn never said anything noteworthy. He just whined a lot. Rocky V was sort of a sucky movie, anyway.]

If there was any kind of movie game that could stand on just having five characters to play as, Rocky would qualify. Maybe throw in a create-a-character mode to let me even out the ranks as I saw fit, maybe a few hidden characters, and I would have been happy. Mick’s unlockable, so I can’t complain too much…though I was looking forward to slapping Paulie around a bit.

But instead, they filled the game with a bunch of no-name, one-note hacks that no one gives a flying fluke about. Do you know who Joe Chan is? Dipper Brown? Burt Judge? Probably not. At best, they made minor, five-seconds-and-gone appearances in the movies. At worst, they’re made up. They look like their designs were decided by coin tosses, they rarely speak, and in order to unlock all the characters and play as the guys you really want to play as, you’ve got to get through them first.

Not that getting through them is tough or anything. Not as long as you have the ALMIGHTY LEFT UPPERCUT OF DOOM.

You can do a whole host of punches. Jabs. Crosses. Straights. But you don’t need them. All you have to do is get in close and toss out the uppercut. The opponents in this game have yet to master tough boxing techniques like ‘blocking’ and ‘dodging’, so as long as you get in close and let fly with the uppercut, they’ll take it. You can practically knock their jaw off, and they'll just act like talkative punching bags. Over…and over…and over. While most boxing games give you a meter to keep the cheapness in check, Rocky just lets you wail away. They’re not real boxers, true. But they should at least fight like they are.

You’ve got boring fights against boring opponents, and it all looks ugly, too. Bruises look more like paint than pain. The audience is barely anything more than a random jumble of pixels, jumping up and down in a constant loop. The characters don’t look like their movie counterparts, they look like impersonators, stunt doubles, and bad stunt doubles at that. And while it could just be my imagination pulling overtime, I could swear that all the fighters are made out of plastic.

Actually, the plastic thing might be deliberate.

Punches just fly out in rapid succession; the same animation, the same movement. There’s no weight to any movement, no realism. They just move like…well…

Look kids! It’s Ready-to-Rumble Rocky! Now with Punching Action!

…like action figures. The ring girls aren't even hot. Unless you have a Barbie-doll fetish.

As bad as this game is, they could have gotten away with it. Rocky’s one of the best movies ever made, arguably the best sports movie. Subject material just doesn’t get much better than that. All they had to do was stick with it; get in enough to keep the fans happy and watch the cash flow.

They couldn’t even do that right.

Take the Movie Mode, Rocky’s main attraction. Now, the logical thing to do with this would be putting in a few movie clips, highlighting some key moments, then dropping you right into the fight.

But, instead, they did the illogical thing and turned some of movie history’s greatest moments into a series of poorly done, one minute cutscenes. The character’s look blocky, bringing the same plastic look from the main game. It only recreates a few random scenes from each movie, enough to give you a barebones understanding of what’s going down. They didn’t even have the common sense to cut and paste the voices from the original movie over to the game; the characters don’t just look like impersonators, they sound like them, too.

Half the time, the Movie Mode can’t even get its own facts straight. Unless my memory is off, Apollo Creed was very much dead for the bulk of Rocky IV. So how is he training you for the fight against Drago? They completely forgot about how Mr. T whipped Rocky the first time they fought. They don’t even show how Mick died. So if you never watched the movies and you played the game, you’d think Mick just magically disappeared. One of the biggest points in the entire series, and they just skipped over it.

What the hell?

Movie games usually get the game part wrong; that’s expected. But Rocky doesn’t even get the movie part right. It fails on both levels.

You want a good, arcade-style boxing game? Get Ready 2 Rumble Round 2. You want to engage in some pure pugilism? Get Fight Night Round 2. You want to play as Rocky Balboa and live the life of the ultimate underdog? Get Fight Night Round 2 and make a Rocky lookalike with the Create-A-Fighter mode. There’s just no reason to bother with Rocky.

Well, I take that back. One reason:

Mr. T vs. Dolph Lundgren

lasthero's avatar
Staff review by Zack Little (November 01, 2005)

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