Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy
Oct 11th 2004
Introduction:Ubi Soft is back for another round and has published their second Rocky videogame. Rocky: Legends is an improvement over the original and boasts more punching power in the expanded career mode. Does Rocky: Legends hold up to the legend of the movies? read on to find out.
The Game:The Rocky movies are a great series which will never be forgotten, even though last time I tried to watch the Rocky marathon I only made it to Rocky III... I still love them all. The series was the best thing ever to happen to Mr. Stallone. No matter how many movies Sylvester Stallone makes he will always be remembered as the Italian Stallion. UbiSoft has chosen to immortalize the Rocky persona in the second boxing game released under the UbiSoft name. Don't worry, Rocky: Legends is better than their first attempt.
I was excited to hear about the development of Rocky: Legends and even though I had my doubts, I couldn't help to be excited. As soon as Rocky loads up in your console you will see an improvement in the overall design, mainly because of the new developer Venom Games. As I delved further into the game, I came to the conclusion that the best thing about Rocky: Legends is that you don't have to play Rocky! I know it sounds strange, but UbiSoft did something new with the Rocky franchise which hasn't been done in the past... you can use the other famous characters. Rocky's movie rivals are available in Legends in their own story mode, complete with back stories. That means a whole bunch of "Pity the Fool" is coming my way as I started the career mode off as Mr. T's character Clubber Lang. The other characters include Apollo Creed and the Russian Ivan Drago. Unfortunately Tommy "the machine" Gunn was left out of the story mode, which is very strange considering the other characters are involved. I know the general public wasn't too enthusiastic about his appearance in Rocky V, but common does Tommy have to live in Rocky's shadow even in videogame land?!
Career mode is basically a bunch of boxing matches strung together with the occasional cut-scene thrown in. Like Fight Night 2004 which was released early this year, you have the opportunity to build up your fighter in-between matches. The fighter's ability is broken down into five statistics which are Strength, Speed, Stamina, Determination and Movement. When you train you have the possibility of rising an attribute by 10 points or you can use the auto train function and gain 5 points. In the beginning you will be the underdog, but as time progresses you stats will raise. I found the game moderately difficult until I found my groove, then it became fairly simple. There are three difficulty levels, so players of all skill levels can enjoy the game.
Besides Career mode there are a few different gameplay options in Rocky: Legends. They included a Tournament mode where you can compete under three difficulty ratings and battle your way through a tournament. It's really up to you on difficult you want it, but it offers some nice quick boxing action which is always fun. An Exhibition mode is included, and a neat little Survival mode also. Just like in fighting games, in survival mode you will see how long you can go boxing one opponent after another with no saves from the bell. The also have the training modes available if you want to particle before the career mode, you can also try and beat friends times and so on. although its more fun just beating on them in exhibition mode.
Rocky: Legends is an arcade styled boxing game where which borrows some simulated gameplay ideas. The simulated aspect blended into with arcade action is perfect for a Rocky game, considering the movies are more fantasy than reality. No Boxer in the world could take as many straight shots in the head as Balboa received. Rocky was more like a human punching bag! Overall the gameplay is fairly solid, but it falters in a few areas. The action isn't as fluid as I would have liked, but it works well enough. When you're in the ring your players stats will influencing their performance, you will start to notice an improvement when your players stats rise. To gauge everything in the ring on how fatigued the boxer is there are few meters you should note. The main meter is the standard stamina meter and an equally important meter located in blue below that is the punch meter. The punch meter is sensual to winning fights because it helps you visualize how tired your boxer is and how it affects the power behind his punches. Even if you throw the best combination of your life when your meter is down, it will have no effect. So it's better to time your attacks and ware down your opponent. then go in for the kill.
My major grip with the boxing in Rocky: Legends is the the 'Auto Block' feature! Auto block in boxing, are you for real! To me that is the equivalent to an auto score in hockey. The auto block doesn't save you from harms way and catch every punch, but it does strop the majority. I would have liked a system where you could at least block up and down, if not right and left also. The auto block really takes the dangerous feeling out of boxing, holding down one button and letting it do all the work isn't to exciting. They didn't totally botch the defensive aspect of boxing because there isn't an auto doge in Rocky; you'll have to do that manually which is great. The 'Auto Block' feature wouldn't be so horrible if you could turn it off and use another block scheme, but as far I noticed you are stuck with it.
In the gameplay department I think Rocky: Legends did a great job making you feel like you could be apart of the movie series. Venom Games included a great career mode beyond my imagination and added some other cool game modes. The actual boxing isn't perfect, but either was Rocky style. Rocky: Legends never set out to be a replica of real life boxing, and gets a close as anyone could desire to Hollywood boxing.
Graphics & Sound:In the graphics department Rocky: Legends does a satisfactory job. The strong point of the graphics would be the presentation, character design and the boxing environments. The weak points would be the boxer's animations; although not horrible they have some mechanical overtones. I really dug some of the detail they persisted upon in the game, including the facial damage, small logos on clothing, blood flying on the screen, and Apollo's Afro! The other positive points are attributed to the different locations you can box in, from a Russian military base, back street brawls, prison cells, and a traveling carnival, its all covered. Rocky: Legends isn't robust in polish, but they are strong in design.
The sound is good in Rocky: Legends and I love the funk-inspired menu tune. The in-game sound effects are in check although they could have used a little more pizzazz. Musically, Rocky is classily remade to be like the movies. They included most of the themes from the movies which is fantastic, and much needed. Another aspect which would have been nice would have been the real talent on the voice-overs; unfortunately we have to settle people sounding like actors characters. They do a satisfactory job, but of course it's not the real deal.
Innovation:Rocky: Legends isn't going to regenerate boxing games like Fight Night's "total punch control", but there are some memorable achievements. One surprisingly cool part in Legends is that each fighter has some different techniques to raising their similar stats. In the Training section Rocky uses punch mitts to add more strength, but Clubber Lang uses chin-ups, or instead of Clubber's sit-up routine, Apollo Creed goes on one and sparing to gain determination skill points. A number of the training exercises are simply button mashers, but I the do offer some switch ups and work on offensive and defensive skills.
The crowd meter is another great idea in Rocky: Legends, with points awarded to the most liked boxer in the matches. The crowd meter is located in your HUD but you most likely won't need to keep your eyes on it because the crowd verbal interacts with the matches. The audience will chant the name of the boxer they are rooting and if they really despise a boxer they will litter the stage with broken bottles. Popularity can't win or loose a fight, but it's a nice little touch which can be funny at times.
The last innovative feature I want to touch base on in Rocky: Legends is the player's ability to switch up characters in the story mode. It's a little touch which goes a long way, and helps keep the game fresh. I used this function allot and I was playing the careers of all the boxers at once instead of throwing all my time into one boxer. It would be great if other sports games included this feature instead of loading up a different saved game for every character.
Mojo:We all make fun of the Rocky call of "Adrian", but even though we make fun of Rocky he still has the mojo. Fighting the odds and overcoming them, there is no greater hero. Even cooler than Rocky in some peoples minds would be his rivals. In Rocky: Legends you can be whoever you wish (-Tommy Gunn), which guarantees mojo-satisfaction. But playing Rocky, Ivan, Apollo or Clubber isn't the only cool moments.
Rocky: Legends also has some cool mojo modes like the ability to save knockouts from exhibition mode, or going through an army or knocking out other Rocky characters with your favorite. The mojo continues with the classic licensed themes from the movies, and the historical look at the characters past. Try and tell me that being in the prison knocking out teeth with Mr. T isn't cool, or Apollo's massive afro isn't the pinnacle of mojo. Rocky: Legends is made for the fans, and supplies a TKO of mojo.
Lowdown:Rocky: Legends should prove to be more than enough to satisfy and Rocky fan. If you into Legends just for the boxing you could be a bit disappointed. Like I mentioned early, Rocky: Legends makes you feel like you could be a part of the movies with its fast paced action and retrospective story mode. Rocky fans should defiantly pick this game up, and curious boxing fans. rent it and check it out, you might just be surprised.
Gameplay: 7, Graphics/Sound: 7, Innovation: 7, Mojo: 8. Final: 7