Review: IRB Rugby World Cup 2011
Does this eagerly awaited Rugby World Cup game convert or fall short of the try line?
- Worth The Time?For a die hard rugby fan, probably. For anyone else, not at all.
- Things LovedEasy to pick up and play, fun multiplayer, licensed teams, very smart and slick menu system, simple control scheme.
- Things HatedBoring and easy single-player, only five modes, only 10 teams are actually licensed, recycled stadiums, occasionally weird animations, poor character models, dumb AI, limited strategic options, odd team editor.
- RecommendationYou should only pick this up if the game of rugby is your life, and if you absolutly cannot wait for a decent rugby game to release. Other than that, I would not advise a purchase at all.
- Name: Rugby World Cup 2011
- Genre: Sports
- Players: 1-4
- Multiplayer: Online, 1v1
- Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3
- Developer: HB Studios
- Publisher: 505 Games
- Price: R529.00 (Bt games), R499.00 (Kalahari)
- Reviewed On: Xbox 360
The last time gamers around the world were graced with a rugby game was around 3 years ago, with HB Studio’s EA published Rugby 08. Three years on and not a single rugby game, while EA pumps out other sports titles like FIFA every single year. That’s not fair, right. What is worse is that after 3 whole years of patient waiting by fans around the globe, the first rugby game to grace shelves was IRB Rugby World Cup 2011. Take Rugby 08, remove all the extra tournaments, give a minimal graphical upgrade, don’t touch the AI and that is what you’ll receive if you decide to fork out good money for this game.
By now should have realised that this game is based on the upcoming IRB Rugby World Cup taking place in New Zealand. As history shows us, these types of games aren’t usually all that good and extremely limited. This game is no exception to that rule. This first thing you will notice is one of the games redeeming qualities, that being the main menu, and the menu system in general. It’s beautiful, dynamic and really catches your eye. Everything is presented in an easy to understand manner, and you will never be confused as to where certain features are. Things were looking up at this point, until I realised how limited my options were.
It won’t take you long to notice that there are only 5 modes in which you can participate. First is the obvious RWC Tournament, where you are able to play the actual groups that have been drawn, or simply shuffle the teams around to your desires. Secondly, there are various warm-up tournaments, which are basically just various single matches strung together. Then, you are able to just play a single international test, choosing from twenty of the available teams and various stadiums. There’s a place-kick shootout mode, allowing you to hone your skills when it comes to those all important conversions and penalties, and lastly a very basic online mode, allowing you to take on players from around the world.
The very first problem comes with the teams themselves. If you have a keen eye, before even hitting the main menu, you will notice all the emblems of the licensed teams in the game. There’s only ten, out of the twenty teams that are participating in the World Cup. Sure, Australia and New Zealand were secured for Jonah Lomu Rugby Challenge, but what about the others? What happened to Fiji, or Japan for that matter. What is the point of an official RWC game if literally half the teams are not even accurately represented? It just seems cheap, and a really sloppy attempt at making the game seem like a true representation of the tournament it is named after.
There is a team editor available for you to use, so if you really want you can rename each player in unlicensed teams, making the team just a bit more realistic than a bunch of generic names. You can also tweak players’ attributes, however there are no limits to points you can put in each attribute, allowing you to max out a team all the way to 100. Not too sure if that is a good thing, but it sure takes balance right out of the game. There is no way for you to edit player appearances though, which is disappointing because all of the character models are not very well done at all. You may be able to make out resemblances of popular players, but player builds and body types all seem the same, and there is no sense of individuality. I even get the feeling that the developers knew this, as during small cutscenes during games, you are often shown the back of a player, rather than his face.
All of this may have been easier to accept if the gameplay was exceptionally good. Not the case. One thing can be said for the control scheme though; it’s incredibly simple and user friendly, allowing anyone to pick up the controller and get up to speed quickly. The shoulder buttons are used for passing, while the face buttons deal with all the different kicks. Holding the right trigger will get your player to sprint, while the right stick can be used to shoulder charge or dodge defenders. Strategic options are mapped to the d-pad, though it is a bit disappointing that you are only able to pick from four at a time, with only a total of eight being available.
Its too bad that a tight control scheme like this is wasted on tedious and repetitive gameplay. Basically, everything comes down to the AI; it’s really stupid, performing the same mistake again and again. It is very easy to win a match by simply slogging it out, passing all the way to the right, entering a ruck, then passing all the way to the left. The AI just doesn’t seem to have an answer to this simple form of play. On top of that it leaves massive gaps for you to constantly take advantage of, leaving you with just one opposing team member as the last line of defense, which can easily be conquered with a quick flick of the right stick. That means advanced gameplay strategies like drop goals and chip kicks really don’t need to be used, even on the harder difficulties, making gameplay exceptionally bland and boring.
This is the main reason why playing against another human is the only real fun part of this game. With the AI and its stupid tenancies gone, gameplay suddenly becomes a challenge, with the opposing member being (hopefully) a lot smarter than the computer. This is where your true knowledge of rugby and tactics can be tested, and the result is often frantic and extremely fun matches. You are able to have 4 people playing on the same console, though oddly with online play you are restricted to only having one player per team. That’s a bit odd when you consider other sports games, with FIFA even boasting 11v11 matches.
I know many of you are probably wondering how this game does alongside Jonah Lomu Rugby Challenge, and despite getting to see it in action a few weeks ago, it is still too early to call it. What I can say is that the gameplay elements seemed very similar, though I can’t comment on visuals at this time. Rugby Challenge certainly does have more tournaments and match options, but only two licensed teams. So, in the end it should come down to personal preference, but I would wait for our full review before passing any defining judgements.