Rugby World Cup 2011
OverviewPlatform: Xbox 360
Can the first rugby game in 4 years capture the drama and excitement of the Rugby World Cup? Ruck no!
The Rugby World cup tournament is almost upon us, and to go hand in hand with the on-field blood, sweat and tears is the official game of the tournament. Rugby football games are a rarity, so the release of a new game is always something of an occasion.
Leading development on the first rugby game since 2007 is Canadian development team HB Studios. Their pedigree in developing rugby games is undeniable, having worked with Electronic Arts on the last notable rugby game, Rugby ‘08 for the Playstation 2 and PC.
Rugby World Cup 2011 the official game of the tournament doesn’t set the greatest first impression. Despite being the official game of you only get some of the teams represented. Shockingly host nation and tournament favourites New Zealand are one of these ‘unofficial’ teams. Therefore you will find the all blacks kitted out in a generic black strip, while some of the smaller teams have even less attention garnished upon them. The majority of player names are correct but some players are listed in wrong positions and the default commentators, Stuart Barnes and Miles Harrison, don’t acknowledge large numbers of the players. Instead you will get various one-liners followed by the player’s position. In a game that only features twenty national teams this is simply unacceptable.
However the lack of complete licensing wouldn’t be as much of an issue if the actual gameplay was exceptional. Pro Evolution Soccer managed to withstand continual onslaughts from EA’s FIFA brand for years. With PES having only a limited number of licensed teams the games more authentic footballing experience was the games main impetus.
The biggest problem with a game based solely on a tournament competition is the lacking of game modes. Modes include, the actual tournament, an exhibition mode, a collection of warm-up tours and a near pointless kicking mini game. It really is a minimalist affair, just the small ability to create on the fly tournaments would have been a welcome addition. As a result the limited modes get old quickly.
Sadly, RWC 2011 is a game riddled with problems. The game across all difficulty levels doesn’t put up sufficient challenge, thanks mainly due to the downright ridiculous Artificial Intelligence of opposition teams. Defenders will gladly step aside and allow attackers to jog past or simply turn around and run away from the ball carrier. The same level of intelligence is found in non controlled players in your own team. Players aren’t supported with overlapping run, defensive players will drift away from their logical position in defensive circumstances and illegal infringements will occur with annoying frequency with little in the way of explanation or replays showing what exactly happened.
The AI problems are less noticeable when playing with friends as local multiplayer is by far the game’s best element and where the most enjoyment with be found.
That is if you can come to terms with the biggest obstacle and main complaint for RWC 2011, an overly complex and poorly arranged controls system. Shoulder buttons are always used for passing the ball, which is simple enough, however face buttons differ depending on whether or not you’re in control of the ball. For the most part attacking controls are pain free however once you’re tackled you need to quickly tap A to retain possession of the ball.
Ball possession is won by being the first team to fill a power meter. Standard game logic dictates this would result in a race of the fastest fingers. However the meter can be filled passed 100%, a detail that is not communicated at any point. The overfilling of the meter results in illegal play and ball possession granted to the opposition team.
But upon winning the possession of the ball if you press A one too many times you will punt the ball down field relinquishing all offensive control of the ball. The A button alone has four functions depending upon circumstances.
The moments of button mashing could be forgiven if they were few and far between, but with the nature of rugby the game can become very stop start. Free flowing, graceful cross field passing is broken up with crunching tackles that lead into button pounding rucks and mauls.
Sadly the control functions are only explained in the manual in regards as to what each button does but with the looming Rugby World cup the official game is going to attract new fans that aren’t au fait with the rules of rugby, so an in-depth tutorial detailing when to retain ball possession and when to hoof the ball long down the pitch would be a welcomed utility.
With its unresponsive poor controls, threadbare modes and broken AI, Rugby World Cup 2011 is a miserable game that is hard to recommend to even the most passionate rugby fan.