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Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions Review

The arcade-sports gaming marketplace is open for taking, with little competition and unrealized potential. Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions enters as an arcade-boxer and the first platform title from the Silicon Valley-backed studio, Survios, Inc. 

Creed Champions takes its cues from Ready 2 Rumble Boxing, a SEGA Dreamcast arcade boxer. It may even elicit memories of the street brawler, Def Jam Vendetta. Although it is a graphical achievement in its own right, Creed Champions lacks the depth and a balanced fight engine to make a lasting name for itself.

Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions Review

Gameplay

Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions takes place within the Rocky universe, full of characters and history from the iconic fight franchise. Survios, Inc. designed the arcade gameplay with simplified controls in mind to pair with an intended deep fight-game engine.

Creed Champions offers two move sets, Basic and Power, that pair with a Super. Simple and clean. The game is undoubtedly welcoming to pick-up-and-play individuals, but the overall feel lacks tempo and balance.

Animations

Firstly, the gameplay in Creed Champions is ultimately too stiff and lacks precision and tact. The character models are too rigid and need more bounce – fighters cannot bob and weave. Ready 2 Rumble offered more fluid motion, and it was developed over 20 years ago. 

Furthermore, the animation frames take far too long to process, negatively impacting precision-timing windows and combination execution. Also, the game does not feature quality animation branching. You are locked in once you throw a combo, largely uninterrupted by your opponent’s moves or animations. The game’s “armored throws” are protected from interruption, a questionable design decision.

Due to the robotic fighters and long-winded animations, players will find it difficult to chain together basic punches with lengthy power throws. It follows that fight tempos are a bit off.

Balancing the Fight Engine

Creed Champions too often becomes a haymaker slugfest. I would 100 percent welcome this, but ultimately, the execution misses its mark. For starters, there is no stamina meter for boxers. Naturally, power punches and supers are going to be overused. Next, tactical dodges rarely avoid damage. The dodges are ineffective due to the poor collision detection when dodging power punches (which connect fairly often) further encouraging their use. As a result, chaining together power punches, which are the majority of the punches thrown, can feel choppy and occasionally unresponsive due to frame traps.

In all, power throws require many frames, and the resulting slugfests lack technicality. The flow of the fights can suffer. Counter-based fighting in the mold of Floyd Mayweather is not a viable option to win bouts.

Responsiveness

The basic, scripted-combos are the most polished gameplay mechanic. You can find these in the move list of each fighter. Basic combos finish with a mini-power throw. It is rewarding to pull off a combo, and these quick punches feel the most snappy and responsive. These quick strikes require the least amount of frames to animate. 

The visuals of throwing basic combos are also pleasing. Combos culminate with a mini-power throw that features neon colors trailing your fists like a jetstream. Basic combos are easiest to land and require fewer frames as well as time to chain together, granting them the most utility. Feel-wise, these combos snap and pop upon impact. They are the bread and butter of Creed Champions and are the most satisfying way to score points. The execution of these moves is fun, rewarding, and shows promise for the franchise.

Summarizing Gameplay

The idea of an arcade boxer is exciting, and I want this title to be an experience that we cannot find elsewhere. The insane haymakers can be an absolute joy, but the fights can grow stale. Survios has a foundation here, and it might be special one day, but the fighting engine is underdeveloped for now. Long-animations create issues with executing organic combinations and the game features no stamina meter.

Presentation & Art Direction

The art direction outpaces the gameplay with exciting arenas and environments. The chosen art style by Survios studios is fundamentally sound. The game features 20 action hero-style models from the Rocky universe, and this graphic style can be ported across many gaming platforms by Survios. Each character archetype has its own feel, and I see potential in developing each fighter’s animated move sets and personas in future installments.

Secondly, Creed Champions features many arenas, each with a distinct feel. Each canvas adds a layer of personality to each venue. The ring graphics are more reminiscent of THQ’s wrestling titles than the Fight Night series, which works well. 

Survios’ environment artists beautifully built the lighting in each arena. Light beams cast dynamic shadows across rings and canvases; boxing rings are cinematically showcased front and center, with dimly lit crowds in the backdrops. Lastly, the wide-angle camera creates a sense of space and openness to explore with my boxer. 

Creed Champions deserves high marks on intriguing character art, environment design, and camera work. The game builds a form of contextual awareness in the ring with dynamic wide-angles and explorable canvases.

Damage System

The one flaw in the game’s presentation ties back to gameplay. Creed Champions character models lack progressive bruising or sweat. The lack of progressive bruising detracts from gameplay strategy, which brings up the issue that the game lacks damage zones on the boxer’s bodies. In all, these subtle “sim” details have the potential to elevate the game, even if this is an arcade boxer. Creed Champions lacks these more refined points that add character and lasting appeal.

Sound Design

The sound design in Creed Champions is also satisfactory. The voice acting is minimal but powerful, featuring soundbites from the stars from the Rocky saga. The cuts from Stallone and Michael B. Jordan are a joy. I want more to bring the characters to life.

Continuing, the music selection and gameplay occasionally come together, evoking intense emotional moments in the ring. These are the moments I play for, and it was a pleasant surprise to experience goosebumps with this arcade fighter. The soundtrack to Creed Champions is highlighted by “Eye of the Tiger”, The Roots, Meek Mill and Jhene Aiko. The themes occasionally come together and achieve a Philly-boxing vibe as portrayed in the Creed films.

Story mode

The career mode wasted development time and assets at Survios studios. The story mode, a staple in most fight games, is barebones. The main benefit is that you will meet new and zany characters from the Rocky universe along the way, serving its primary purpose. The training mini-games do not improve stick skills and unfortunately become an afterthought. 

Survios could have used its resources to develop a more balanced fight-game engine. Instead, story mode provides an avenue to unlock characters and skins, but not much else. In all, the game lacks a strategic progression and rewards system.

Conclusion

Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions delivers an uninspired boxing engine. The gameplay, and more specifically the boxer locomotion, fails to compete with games created over 20 years ago. 

I do not think Creed Champions was given the proper development time. The lack of online play indicates how little time and investment Survios put into building a fresh, competitive boxing experience. I do not blame the developers alone. The financial backers in Palo Alto and the publishers are also responsible.

Final Word

In summary, Creed Champions fails to capture the rawness of Michael B. Jordan’s against-all-odds energy in the Creed films. Consequently, the game lacks competitive online play and lacks a competitive spirit.

Creed Champions does deserve praise for its artistic style. It is a gorgeous illustration of the Creed universe that comes to life. Just be aware that the excellent graphics will not overcome its mediocre fight engine in the long run.

I do believe the framework of Creed Champions is certainly something to build upon. Survios has the digital assets, the IP, the financial backing, and the star athlete to work with. It even hypes me up at the thought of what this franchise can become. Until then, Creed Champions is an underwhelming entry into arcade sports gaming.

Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions Review
Overall
5.5/10

Summary

Creed Champions fails to capture the rawness of Michael B. Jordan’s against-all-odds energy in the Creed films. While the game has its pitfalls, I do believe the framework of Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions is certainly something to build upon.

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