Creed: Rise to Glory Tests Real Boxers at Front Street Gym

We visited Philly's world famous Front Street Gym from the movie, Creed, to see if real boxers can score knockouts in the new Creed: Rise to Glory VR game.

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Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love. Home to the Eagles, cheesesteaks, and most importantly, Rocky! Sylvestor Stallone’s iconic movie franchise gave us some of the most memorable moments in cinematic history, from the intense battle against Apollo Creed in the original Rocky to the epic 80s training montage in Rocky 4.

Now it’s Adonis Creed’s turn to shine. The original 2015 Creed film was a smash hit that expanded the Rocky universe, and the sequel, Creed II, will pit Adonis (played again by Michael B. Jordan) against new adversaries, including Ivan Dragon’s son, Viktor!

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The appearance of Michael B. Jordan.

There’s also the new Creed: Rise to Glory video game from Survios, the studio that endeared itself to virtual reality fans with such hits as the action packed Raw Data and racer, Sprint Vector. These talented developers drew on their experience with virtual reality to create this incredibly immersive boxing game, where players become Adonis and shape his quest to become champ. But instead of rapidly pressing buttons on a standard controller, you physically punch to bring the pain. You can even choose where to throw punches, going for the knockout to the jaw or peppering your VR opponent with body shots.

While the game’s been available since September, Survios has no intention of letting it collect virtual ring rust. The studio will release the free Creed II update on November 27, a week after Creed II hits theaters on November 21. The content pack includes two new characters straight from the Creed II movie, Danny “Stuntman” Wheeler and Viktor Drago; both of these characters will be available in single-player FreePlay and online PvP modes. The Creed II Update is the perfect way to extend the good vibes that you’ll feel after seeing the movie.

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Updates bring fresh new content to the game.

Unlike other boxing video games that rely on fantasy elements and characters, Creed: Rise to Glory is grounded in realism. The harder you punch in the real world, the more intensity your virtual punches will have in the ring, while physically throwing up your hands lets you block incoming strikes. Additionally, Survios brought over the movement from Sprint Vector and used it in an interesting way, where after being knocked down, you rapidly swing your arms so that your boxer runs back into his body; the further away you are, the faster you’ll need to swing. It’s part of what Survios refers to as Phantom Melee Technology, where you feel the desperation of needing to get back into the fight.

“When we started conceptualizing Creed: Rise to Glory’s gameplay,” said Lead Engineer, Eugene Elkin, “the first question we had was, ‘How do you bring impact to melee combat in VR?’ Melee in VR is really fun and intense because it’s so active and in-your-face, but the temptation is to fight without thinking of the repercussions. We wanted to increase the immersion—and, by extension, the cinematic feel of the game—by adding consequences like fatigue, staggering, and getting knocked out. We accomplished this by stacking two player avatars on top of each other and using triggered desynchronization. That ghostly avatar tracking your movements while Creed is punching slower, staggered, or laid out? That’s the ‘phantom’ of Phantom Melee.”

To see Creed: Rise to Glory in action, we drove to Philly to visit the world famous Front Street Gym that appeared in the original Creed movie to see how real boxers fared against the game’s virtual opponents. These talented gymgoers spend countless hours hitting punching bags, sparring, and bench pressing. How would they do against Creed: Rise to Glory’s virtual boxers? We couldn’t wait to find out.

Before throwing a single punch, we spent some time wandering around the gym to take in the nostalgia. Front Street Gym is a boxing fan’s paradise, where every wall features posters with such faces as Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, and Roberto Duran; we also spied an original Super Punch-Out poster tucked away in a corner.

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Paying respects to proper boxing game legends.

In addition to having one of the best poster collections, Front Street Gym also produced some of the best fighters in the sport’s history.

“You have Meldrick Taylor, Tony Thorton, Jesse Ferguson… I could go on and on,” said Front Street Gym’s owner, Frank Kubach.

It’s also a gym rat’s sanctuary. You won’t find high tech machines at Front Street Gym. The lone flat bench is like something you’d see in a garage… old, strong, and worn. Punching bags with years of use hang from walls, and there are rickety-looking wooden bleachers close to the ring, for when fighters watch people spar with each other.

Air conditioning? What’s that? You might have fans to cool off on a hot summer day, while the door with a sign that says “Women” (suggesting it leads to a bathroom) actually takes you to a storage closet. Every inch of this place oozes character; you can’t walk up the long staircase leading into the gym without thinking of the hundreds (maybe even thousands) of boxers who made the same climb over the years.

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An inside look at the Front Street Gym.

That said, Front Street Gym is more than a historical landmark. It’s a place for people of all walks of life united under the common thread of boxing. Frank charges $20 per month to use the gym, and unlike in most places, people don’t stand around socializing. They are expected to work out the majority of the time, with the gym’s trainer, Dallas, keeping a close eye on who is burning calories or chit-chatting. During our time there, Dallas routinely went up to people and told them to do 150 push-ups or sit-ups, while other boxers ran up and down the stairs, hit the bags hanging from the ceiling, or engaged in one of the more tiring exercises… throwing a large medicine ball at a mini trampoline, catching the ball, and then repeating the process for a considerable period of time.

“I don’t like a lot of people walking around. You have to be a member of the gym.” Said Frank.

With this in mind, how did these warriors do against Creed’s virtual competition? Surprisingly well! Among the 12 people who stepped up to the challenge, there were only two losses, and Dallas achieved the highest score. On top of that, all of the boxers were impressed with how Creed: Rise to Glory is so realistic that it allowed them to use their personal fighting styles in the virtual ring.

“My style was pretty close to identical to how I spar.” said Juan Marrero. Byron Ricks then said, “It helped me utilize my skills to push more and throw more punches from certain angles.”

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Connection and impact are at the heart of Creed 2's realistic boxing experience.

How did Survios feel about the boxers’ individual performances?

“I think as a studio, it was really humbling to hear the overwhelming positive feedback from the members of Front Street Gym,” said Amy Pantea. “Creed: Rise to Glory isn't a true boxing simulator, but it really encapsulates the essence and heart of what boxing feels like. These are trainers, new boxers, and aspiring professionals who dedicate so much of their time to the sport, trying our game and applying real boxing technique to land a knockout. And of course, bringing the game to the heart of Philly where Rocky and Creed are household names makes for a very passionate group of testers.”

What about Creed II, the sequel that arrives in theaters on November 21? Most of the people in the gym knew the movie was coming out but didn’t know much about the plot. When we told them that Adonis fights Ivan Drago’s son, their interest levels shot up considerably.

“That’s going to be interesting right there,” said Andre Hickson. “I’m more hyped now to see it more than ever.”

We enjoy playing Creed: Rise to Glory, both for the graphics, immersion, and intense workout that it provides. On that note, the game is available for the PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, and the HTC Vive; you can also find the game at VR arcades nationwide. You can learn more about this superb virtual reality boxing game at the Creed: Rise to Glory official website.

As for Creed 2, we have it marked on our November calendar. Not a bad way to kick off Thanksgiving 2018!