Resident rugby writer, Raffaele Rocca reviews, in detail, one of rugby’s main gaming experiences, Rugby 15.
As a sports fan and sometime gamer, there are two titles this writer looks forward to every year. FIFA comes out every October, and despite there being little variation in the game over the years, it remains extremely playable and has all the bases covered with league licences and official stadia.
Granted, if one were to be hyper critical, one could say that the play-off groups for the international competitions are a bit unrealistic as regards to the seedings but all in all EA Sports gets an awful lot more right than it does wrong.
The other game this writer anxiously awaited was this year’s Rugby 15 title from HB studios. Their last release came out in 2013 to coincide with the Lions’ tour of Australia.
You could play the Lions tour with official players and kit, play against the Australian test and Super 15 sides. There were fully licensed NPC, Super 15, Top14, Rabo and Aviva Premiership competitions.
As well as this, you could play a season mode and incorporate your International, domestic club and European competitions in line with the actual rugby calendar. The season mode also went on over years so you could improve your team etc.
While the game play was still a bit clunky and the players tended to have a mind of their own at times, this writer hoped that with almost two years between games that the newest edition would be much improved.
This writer was sorely mistaken. This game is not going to satisfy anyone who has a clue about Rugby. In fact it is a total disaster.
HB Studios have simplified the controls to the point of being ridiculous. Whereas before, L1 passed left and R1 passed right, now R2 passes in both directions, with the direction supposed to be decided by the left control stick.
Despite constant instruction to pass in one direction, the scrum half invariably disobeys the controller and passes to the blind side winger or worse still directly into touch.
If you decide you have had enough of your first choice number nine and replace him, don’t expect anything different. The replacement will be just as incompetent.
As a FIFA player, the whole R2 thing is a mess due to the fact that R2 is the sprint button in FIFA. So what you might ask is the sprint button in Rugby 15? well there isn’t one. Yep you read it correctly; there is no sprint button. You simply point in the direction you want the player to run in and he decides the pace.
Injuries never happen, and this writer would seriously recommend that the IRB dope test all the players because fatigue doesn’t seem to slow anybody down and if a player manages to get a half-yard ahead of you in a sprint there is no catching him.
Once you are over the try line, attempting to ground the ball is a complete lottery due to the fact that you need to ground it with the directional stick, which means that running the ball dead is a distinct possibility. Best option is to wait until an opposition player tackles you thus assisting you to ground the ball.
The season mode too is awful. This writer decided to take Pau from the ProD2 all the way to the Top14 and European glory only to find a congratulations message for winning the ProD2 title and no more, which is very sad for James Coughlan as this writer would have liked to see him get a year or two in the Top14.
Basically, there is no continuation to Top14 and no going between domestic and European club competitions like there is in FIFA, which is really frustrating and renders the game pointless.
As for the graphics, the crowd animations are awful, there are no replays for tries, there is no referee on the pitch, and the gripes go on and on. As for the stadia, don’t get too excited, as there only is one.
If you happen to be a Munster fan then you would undoubtedly be left scratching your head as to the research carried out by HB studios prior to compiling the squads.
Munster captain Peter O’Mahony is the worst player in the squad with a rating of 67. At that rate he’d be better off back in the All-Ireland League.
Lions and Ireland scrum half Conor Murray is only the third best scrum half in the panel, behind Cathal Sheridan and Duncan Williams. Now this writer knows Williams and Sheridan are decent back ups but ahead of Murray?
As for the unlicensed Irish team, well the names are not very Irish. A halfback pairing of Elbert Lunde and Fermin Edick sounds a little odd. A hooker by the name of Leopoldo McEwan sounds like an Argentine, of Scottish origin. To cap off the weirdness we have Maria Brain on the wing.
All in all, save yourself the €65 and go support your AIL or junior team for the rest of the season. It would easily get you entry to the remaining home games and it would be money better spent.
Raffaele Rocca, Pundit Arena