XBOX REVIEW: RUGBY 2005

Why the hell is soccer so popular? If I had to pick a popular European sport to watch it would be rugby. It's fast paced and violent, not to mention that it's fairly easy to understand. If American football were chess, rugby would be checkers - with fisticuffs.

Rugby may appear to be a simple game on the surface but there are some detailed rules. You can learn all about the finer points of the game with the tutorial included with Rugby 2005 called Rugby 101. Rugby was designed to be a continuous moving sport with very few interruptions. It's played like North American football to a certain degree but the fundamental differences are that you can only pass the ball behind you. There are no forward passes. You use your feet and hands to pass, throw, knock, kick and drop kick the ball as you run with it. Opposing players can tackle and otherwise crush you if they can get a hold of you.

Unlike last year's Rugby game which was only available on the PS2, this 2005 version has been overhauled from tip to stern and the results are one of, if not the best, Rugby game available. The controls are responsive and the animation has been smoothed out with motion-captured animations and virtually seamless transitions. The Xbox version is much better looking than the PS2 although there are some traces of slowdown, flicker and online lag.

For the most part there are no serious issues with the controls. The only problem is with the camera angle which displays the action from a default side-view which is a difficult perspective to perform a drop kick with. Other than that, the field perspective is good and you can see a fair distance which makes you feel less claustrophobic than some sports games. The opposing team doesn't always come at you like one big wave as in North American football. You'll often have several tough lines to break through to reach your goal even if you're on fire. You can fake out some of your opponents and side step charges. Teammates will even come to your aid and there always seems to be someone, somewhere, to pass to but the AI is good and can snatch that ball at any time.

With licensed teams, players and tournaments, rugby fans will have a heyday playing as their favorite star in The World Championship. There are lots of tournaments to take part in including the Super 12, the Lions Tour, Heineken/European Cup and World League. Don't be impatient. It may take a while to get totally comfortable with the controls and rules of the game, so don't get frustrated if you get your ass kicked in the tournament modes. Practice in the quick game and training modes first. More advanced strategies will be required to compete in the tournaments. You may be able to find players of your skill level online or at least pick up some pointers from better players. It's only a disgrace to get beat if you don't learn anything from it.

For a change, the commentary doesn't make me want to hit someone. The announcer is natural sounding and doesn't start repeating himself after fifteen minutes of play. You'll also be able to hear some chatter from the officials on the fields as well as the crowd noise as they cheer on the home team and break into various songs and chants. There's some generic rock music but it's confined to the main interface.

Rugby 2005 fails to even acknowledge that there was a Rugby 2004 version. This game rocks and is highly recommended for football and soccer fans that want a little more bite in their ball game. The excellent training mode ensures that beginners will get a fair shake at getting in on the ground floor of one of the world's fastest-growing sports.

Preview By Chris

Rugby is a fast growing sport among colleges and private clubs here in the North America market. While the sport is not really popular as others it is an exciting sport. It is also one of the toughest sports to play. If you have never seen a Rugby match think of a football only harder and wearing no pads while getting the living crap beat out of you as you try and score. Of course the ball while in play can be handed off to any of your teammates if you have the chance. Even after the pile up begins the ball is still in play. The game was once called barbaric and it can be. Until you learn the game that is and find out the finer points of the game.

EA is releasing their second version of the series and trying to draw sports fans to the game. It's not been an easy market since the game is played by a select few. EA has revamped the controls to make it easier and added some new features. See the list below for the complete list.

While it looks better than the last game they still have decided to pull the camera view way back. Sort of like the first few FIFA games. The result causes the game to seem distant and the players smaller.

 

Can EA make Rugby a popular game? I think in time they can and it does look realistic. We have the newest screenshots of the game slated for a March release on the Xbox, PS2 and PC. I think EA would have benefited from an online mode while trying to introduce the game to the North American market. Sadly this one will not feature any online play. It will feature the chance to create your own player and also feature the now signature EA Trax. If getting dirty and bashing people sounds you may want to keep an eye out for this one when it is released. So check out the screen shots and features.

Press:

EA Sports Rugby 2005, which features a host of gameplay and graphical upgrades, will deliver an authentic rugby experience!

Rugby 2005 incorporates all the major Rugby teams, players, and tournaments, including the Tri-Nations, Super 12 and many more authentic and prestigious events from the world of Rugby. The game incorporates a completely upgraded graphical engine with individually differentiated players, realistic motion-captured player animations, dramatic lighting and cameras, and stadiums that are accurate with details such as crowd reactions, songs, and chants. EA Sports Rugby 2005 plays realistically with on-the-fly play-calling, right analog stick controls for fakes and crushing hits and improved kicking control. The game also features a 'Rugby 101' training mode outlining the rules, controls, and tactics of the sport through videos and interactive challenges.

Features:

  • True Rugby Realism - New player models of varying height and weight and realistic animations bring the tackles, high emotions, and player actions on the pitch to life.
  • Learn it. Play it. Live it. - Training mode outlines the eight main rugby gameplay elements including rules, controls, and advanced tactics. After you've learned the game, take your skills to the Training Pitch for challenge-based drills using advanced controls.
  • Unprecedented Control Over Every Aspect of the Sport - Set plays on the fly, dive when tackling, sidestep big hits, build momentum with a shoulder charge, or confuse the defense with complex fakes and dummies -- the entire game is in your hands.
  • All New Creation Zone - Create customized players based on your own likeness, your favorite rugby star, classic players of the game, or any other characters that come to mind.
  • New Teams and Tournaments - More teams and leagues added for the upcoming season, plus the addition of the Heineken/European Cup and customizable, user-designed knockout tournaments.
  • Enhanced Broadcast Presentation - New camera angles, sound effects, crowd noise, commentators, and replay controls provide better feel for what is happening on the pitch.
  • Team Songs and Chants - Team songs and crowd chants from the major stadiums around the world capture the spirit and excitement of rugby.
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System: XBOX
Dev: HB Studios
Pub: EA
Released: March 2005
Players: 1 - Multi Online
Review by Dean
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4.5
GRAPHICS
4.0
CONTROL
4.0
MUSIC/FX
4.5
VALUE
4.0