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Between these matches, the tedium is broken up by a series of mini-games that can increase Rocky's stats, including the classic exercise of punching slabs in the meat locker. The player can choose any two of these and depending upon their success, increase Rocky's corresponding stat by anywhere from 1 to 10 points (out of 100 total). The difficulty of these is uniform, with the exception of the particularly easy strength exercise, and it takes a few tries before players can start garnering higher points. Fortunately, an auto-train mode is also offered, automatically allotting 5 points to the selected category.
The developers have also taken a number of steps to keep the game close to its source material, particularly in the audio department. This includes not only the classic Rocky theme "Gonna Fly Now", which is used throughout the game, but the appropriate 70/80's guitar chords in both training sessions and character intros. Voices, too, play a key role, with crowds chanting the name of the winning boxer. The announcer mentions each character's clothing, as well as their nickname. Rocky's trainer Mick also makes an appearance, alternating between praise and criticism depending upon Rocky's performance during both the matches and training sessions. Subtle touches like these go a long way to giving the game a distinct sense of time and place, so the game feels like Rocky rather than another generic boxer.
However, the cut scenes are an odd batch. Directly before and after each boss (the climatic fight from each movie), players are treated to poor CG footage emulating scenes from each movie, scenes that employ the original, unrestored audio from each movie. While it's nice that there's been some attempt to flesh out the plot of Rocky the game, it would have made more sense for Rage Software to take advantage of the game's DVD format and restore footage from the movie(s) instead of employing CG models that actually look worse than than those in-game.
Rounding out the whole package is a two-player mode, allowing wannabe pugilists to fight their buddies as any one of Rocky's opponents or any one of the five versions of the Italian Stallion himself. Providing more incentive to progress through the career mode is the fact that almost all of these boxers and arenas must be unlocked by playing through the career mode, with each new opponent and new arena defeated adding to the multiplayer arsenal.
Not unlike the boxer himself, Rocky overcomes the odds and succeeds as no one expected it to. It represents a marriage of form and content that works surprisingly well because unlike Minority Report (also reviewed this issue - include link), the gameplay is built around its source material. A must have for Rocky and boxing fans alike, although its level of realism may turn off the casual gamer.