Throughout the past several years, the Rocky movie saga has always remained one of my all-time favorites. Thanks to our friends over at Rage and Ubi Soft, the legend of Rocky continues - only this time it finds itself on all three next-generation game consoles, including my beloved GameCube. With exceptional graphics, a memorable musical score and boxing action like you've never seen before, this game rocks (no pun intended) and becomes an instant classic.
At the main menu, you'll find four game-play modes including Exhibition Match, Sparring Mode, Knockout Tournament and Movie Mode. But before I say anything else, I gotta tell ya, the action in this game is fast, smooth, and downright realistic. It captures the essence of the 'sweet science'? better than any boxing game before it' tenfold! The reason for this is quite simple. Unlike previous boxing games (Does Knockout Kings mean anything to you?), which consists of in-your-face, mano-a-mano slugfests, Rocky features real boxing strategy. And while this game can trade punches with the best of 'em, to succeed, you must fight with smarts. That means bobbin', weavin', blockin' punches, counter-punchin' and staying away from your opponent when you're in trouble. And if you don't do all of these things at the right time, well, you're in trouble. No question, going all-out on the offensive can work at times. But, as you face increasingly challenging opponents, this all-out approach will get you to the canvas in a hurry (Don't say I didn't warn ya!).
You can warm up with the Sparring and Exhibition Modes, but the real meat and potatoes of the game lies within the Movie Mode. And I dare say that this is where you'll probably be most entertained. The Rocky movie saga consists of five movies. Playing as Rocky Balboa, you'll start out with the first movie, facing all of the same fighters as in the actual movie. Progress your way through each movie, until you've mastered all five. In between, you'll be able to train with five different minigames in order to increase your strength, stamina, heart' etc. The controls take a bit of getting used to, but that's only because there are so many different types of punches that you can throw at your opponent. No worries though, the GameCube controller is up to the task.
The game offers some serious audio/visuals. Each fighter (including our hero) is modeled to near perfection with super smooth textures and realistic shading. The various boxing venues are equally impressive with clean and colorful ringside accoutrements. The fans in the stands look way cool and they even throw bottles and other nasties into the ring when the action slows down. Overall, the sound effects do a nice job of capturing the monumental task at hand - which, of course, is to pulverize your opponent. You'll hear the familiar Rocky theme bellow out from the rafters, setting the tone before each fight.
If you haven't yet seen at least one or two of the Rocky movies, I strongly urge you to do so. It's not a prerequisite for enjoying the game, but I think it'll help. Alas, there's not enough room here to tell ya about everything this game has to offer, like the slew of unlockable fighters waiting in their dressing rooms, for example. Nonetheless, Apollo Creed, Clubber Lang, and Ivan Drago are all lookin' to knock your block off. You have a date with destiny. Don't blow it, get this game, now!