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~~~Rugby World Cup 2011~~~
As a lot of you may or may not know, the 2011 Rugby World Cup is just around the corner! Specifically, 10 days away. So, you can imagine my excitement upon hearing the news that an official 2011 Rugby World Cup game was being released? Exactly! Being a keen rugby player (and fan) its been a long time since a rugby game has been released, Rugby 2008 was the last game of the EA sport franchise which as the name suggests, was released in 2008! Imagine my disappointment when i come to realise that the 2011 Rugby World Cup game, is in fact Rugby 2008 with different names and faces?
Before I start my long and tedious rant about how awful this game is, I suppose its only necessary to share what the game offers! The game offers 5 games modes, the Rugby World Cup itself, International tests, Warm-up matches, a place kick shoot-out and of course, online play! What the developers of this game have done, is essentially take Rugby 2008 the game, get rid of tournaments such as the 6-nations, the Tri-nations and the Guinness premiership and replace them all with the Rugby World Cup! Great idea guys,boy do I hope that the developers are getting payed healthily for such ingenious ideas!!
Furthermore, although it states that this game is the Official Rugby World Cup game, it doesn't even hold licenses for all the teams. Thus, meaning that half of the teams are made up of 'made-up' individuals. Teams like Russia and Japan have no real players, they are comprised of fictional individuals and fictional team strips. Also, house hold teams in the name of rugby such as Australia and New Zealand do not hold official licenses, this surely cannot be tolerated as a serious attempt to make a game. Continually, to rub salt in the wounds the developers have marketed the game to retail at competitive prices. Example, you pay £30-£35 for a game that essentially was released in 2008! Its just not acceptable.
The Warm-up Tour (a specific game mode) is essentially a string of international tests played one after an other. There is no real enthusiasm or diversity that makes this game stand out within the market place, literally absolute nothing would make this game appealing to a customer. Apart from the fact that the title involves the word 'Rugby', I can think of no reason why a sane individual would purchase this game. Which leads me to ask the question...'why did I?' !
The online game modes are dull and lack-lustered. The multiplayer function of the game can incorporate up to 4 players to play in a sort-of mini tournament, however even the online play offers a mere two player limit! There is nothing ground-breaking about this game, it just acts as a filler to whenever we get the next installment within the game franchise.
~~~Gameplay, Graphics and Realism~~~
So, like Ive already said, this game is an awful lot similar to Rugby 2008, and it differs not in this category either. Imagine Rugby 2008, now attach cardboard cut-out faces onto the old players, and there you have it...Rugby World Cup 2011. In a nutshell! The graphics are dreadful, Toby Flood for example seems to be made up of angular arms and legs, and he also seems to be competing in The Worlds Strongest man because he is buff (in the game anyway)! The graphics haven't improved at all from Rugby 2008, it is in fact like playing the exact same game. The only improvements to graphics are the HUD (heads-up display), polished place kick measures for example have been upgraded!
The gameplay, again, is very similar to that of Rugby 2008. The AI are very clumsy and seem to have no separate personality, for example if a player breaks the defensive line then all of defending team follow the man in single-file. Bizarre! The controls are fairly simple, L1 and L2 pass left and right respectively, R2 is sprint! The one tiny thing I like about this game is the ability to fend off an opponent. However, it's not groundbreaking development because of course it was available in Rugby 2008. You can push the right analog stick in a given direction to fend an opponent. Push the stick toward the defender to shoulder charge, away to hand off and perpendicular to side step! The set plays offer no real opportunity to feel involved in the game, a simple tap of a button and you win the ball!
This game is completely unrealistic, in a word! The last time I saw James Hook punt a ball from within his own in-goal to the opponents 22 was well, never. Why develop a game and involve aspects that would never happen in real life? I mean i know Jonny Wilkinson has a big boot, but he can't kick a goal 65 metres away from the posts! The players, their faces, their postures and builds are all completely unrealistic. By the size of Danny Care I would assume he could bench press about 250kg (which is alot). The game does have some realistic aspects, but all in all a poor attempt of a game!
This game is disastrous. Avoid it like the plague. Its completely disgraceful for a game developer to put a game on the market which essentially was released 3 years ago, and expect to sell it at a competitive price. The fact that they have the audacity to do such a thing is completely unacceptable! I mean yes, if your a rugby fan I can see you buying this game (I mean I did) but please don't! I know it's been a while since a Rugby game was released but please avoid this game, an official game that doesn't even have official licenses, poor graphics and the exact same game engine as Rugby 08, there is no need to buy this!
Another big tournament and another big sports game comes our way but finally not just for football! Rugby World Cup 2011 sees the next generation consoles with their first widely available and known title for rugby fans but does it meet the expectations?
The game is the officially licensed product of the tournament and so the teams and statiums are all the official ones.
Now unfortunately we move onto the negatives which is very soon but I am here to give an honest opinion.
The game has been developed for a big tournament and so you would hope that with this would come a big budget presentation with great graphics, sound quality, commentary and just all around feel but unfortunatly not with this game. The graphics are only just of a level high enough that you can see that this is not still on the PS2 and with the amount of years that these games would have had to be developed then it makes you feel like they rushed it out at the last moment. The commentary is again a big letdown with the game proclaiming to me that we were in Glasgow when playing at Murrayfield which is based in Edinburgh, this is really poor as you would hope that the people developing the game and commentators would at least be rugby fans and so these kind of erros should not be in the final version of a game of this magnitude.
The control system is ok. This in itself though is something I found frustrating as the game feels like it has the same basic setup as the old Rugby games from EA Sports making it feel like another producer trying to rehash an old game with little in the way of their own development touches or thoughts put in.
The computer AI level is again only ok and it just feels like a game of this size has been let down by people trying to use a lower budget than needed.
Overall I can't recommend this and whilst I do understand how much is invested into games development and so how difficult the market is I think this game shows you only get out what you put in. Low budget and so low quality end product.
With ever major sporting event comes a licensed game these days and one of the games that every era of consoles never seems to have got right is the sport of Rugby Union. Could this game be the one that changes all that? With the power of the PS3 behind it could this effort be a game that does justice to the sport? Whilst all the players descend on New Zealand the arm chair hookers amongst us will be heading to the couch to try and take our nations to glory. But just how much fun will it be??
Rugby Union is, as any fans know, quite a complicated sport with it being difficult for even the keenest arm chair fans to notice fouls and breaches of the law. Thus it's hard to turn it into an effective game. What you get therefore is a more arcade style of play. There is an element of realism in there do not get me wrong but never will you get games ending 9-6 with no tries as you do often in reality. The gameplay is fast and fluid and takes a lot of reactions.
In possession is much more fun! Using the triggers to pass does get annoying the stick can feel overly responsive for direction but within a few games you will be creating good passing streams and breaking through defences. All the hand offs and side steps are on the right stick which is very tricky but the game moves so fast that you will barely have the time to be able to use this.
The one confusing part about being in possession is the random nature of rucks and malls. Whacking the X and hoping for the best really doesn't give much satisfaction and the mystery behind why one move results in a turn over and the exact move two seconds later doesn't will remain. It all feels random and the fact that you seem to foul when you don't do anything is rather daft. The whole ruck and mall system is badly designed but in terms of the fact that the developers have such a hard issue to deal with some credit must be given for a system that flows.
Kicking is tricky as each of the main buttons does some form of kick with the ball...grubber, up and under, punt and drop goal so remembering which is which takes times. The direction is hard to master as you press in the button and direct with a very twitchy left stick. The kicking from hands could have been way better and needed time. The kicking to goal is fine though with a simple two stop, wind based directional system that anyone will be able to master in no time. Think mega drive golf games with the two stop system for shots!
In defence though the game lets itself down. Tackling is hard, there is no auto player switch and by the time you have switched your players to the right one using a very poor system they have scored. Dive tackling is poor, its hard to direct tackles and line outs and scrums are dull, based on luck and unsatisfying.
Nevertheless as the game runs so fast and smooth casual gamers and rugby fans who want a quick game here and there may enjoy it more than those wanting to invest time in it. It's a quick fix and there's bags of fun to be had with mates and the odd try fest!
Graphics and presentation
In HD the game looks very good indeed in terms of the menus, the pitches, the arenas and the presentation is spot on. Everything is colourful and vibrant with good looking rain effects and animations in game. Whilst the players are not incredibly detailed, and from distance the graphics disappoint when compared to other sporting titles, it is forgivable. The graphics are passable for this day and age and perhaps as with all tie-ins, having to be out by a certain date restricted what the developers could do. Either way the graphics are above average but far short of what has been seen in other sports titles.
The commentary is decent with a mix of options to choose from and the sound effects add to the experience.
The game's main mode is the World Cup tournament and you can play the accurate draw, a mixed one, three difficulty levels, play as any of the teams in the contest with any duration of game. Plenty of fun and the AI is a good solid test so to win on Hard will take time. There are options to play warm up tours and friendlies although I really wish a classic mode was in there to replay classic world cup encounters.
Online play is smooth and busy and the game comes to live with mates round!
All in all although this is by no means a benchmark game in Rugby hopefully it is a solid start to a progression of great games of the Sport. It's fun to play in small doses, with mates and for fans but it does have gameplay flaws which ruin it a bit!
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