Jeremy Jastrzab
09 Aug, 2007

Rugby 08 Review

PS2 Review | It packs a tight scrum.
While it may be New Zealand’s equivalent to football, which is almost a religion in some parts of the world, Rugby cannot claim to have the same influence as the round ball game. In spite of this, the organisers of the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France claim that their event will be the third highest viewing sporting event ever around the world. Unlike previous Rugby games from EA, Rugby 08 is the first to be backed up by such a large event. It seems though, that this only warranted the game’s latest edition, rather than a special World Cup edition, as often is seen with FIFA.

Despite the fact that the Rugby probably doesn’t get a tenth of the attention that FIFA or Madden get, we’re quite pleased that the standard of Rugby games has gotten much better, particularly after last year’s edition, Rugby 06. The gameplay was made even more realistic and faithful with the inclusion of offload passes and “star” players, leaving us with what was arguably the best Rugby video gaming experience to date.

Stacks on!

Stacks on!
Rugby 08 has some additions and some minor gameplay tweaks, but for the most part, it is the same game that we played early last year. The 2007 World Cup is obviously a focus, as you can play through the entire tournament. Since all the fixtures have already been set, you can pick a team and play through as it has been intended. While previous games mat have allowed a World Cup, this is the only “official” one. Most of the previous game modes, including the Tri-nations, Six Nations and Super 14 competitions, as well as the endearing World League mode have made it through to this game, all with updated rosters and refined stats.

The other primary addition is the Challenge mode. We believe that this is the best addition to the game, as you can now play through 38 matches from all of the previous World Cups. Each puts you into a famous situation and gives you three objectives to try and complete. There is at least one easy objective such as win the game and some harder ones such as kick two drop goals with the same player or score a try with both props. Not only are these scenarios exciting, but they’re also quite challenging and will keep you coming back for quite a while.

In terms of the actual gameplay additions, most are minor but at the same time, they make a difference. In particular, the control that you have over scrums and mauls is much greater, making for an even more authentic experience. The rucks have been improved slightly as well, making the experience a little less frustrating. Line outs have the option of simple or advanced controls, where advanced controls are almost a game on their own. There have also been additions to the attack and defensive formations and an expansion on the set pieces. If a game is tied after three periods of extra time (namely World Cup finals), you will now be sent to drop kick shootouts. Additional camera modes are available as well, though the traditional perspective still does the best job all-round.

See, the game is quite realistic.

See, the game is quite realistic.
Familiarity aside, there are still a couple of issues that we had with the game. Again, these always seem to be revolving around the rucks. While it is indeed an improvement over previous efforts, this really is an issue that should have been nipped in the backside by now. For whatever reason, especially against a superior team or on a higher difficulty level, you keep losing the ball to turnovers, even though you may have several players standing over you ready to “form” the ruck. While we actually managed some success in reverse, there were still too many occasions in the game where we had a solitary run, only to lose the ball in the first ruck.

While your own players may not have evolved much, the same can’t be said about the opposition players. Not only can they be brutal in the rucks, they can also be quite brutal in their tactics and treatment. They’ll pull of some freakish offloads and pick gaps that don’t exist and really give you a run for your money. Still, once you’re able to learn a few of the game’s intricacies, things should start to even up a little.

Rugby 08 still manages to be a fun and challenging game that any rugby fan can enjoy. It’s reasonably simple to learn but quite difficult to master. While there have been some good additions and some reasonable improvements, Rugby 08 is essentially the same game as was played last year. In a way, this is a good thing. It represents a decent level for the “commonwealth” sports and the game includes features such as player creation and management to give it the same edge that would otherwise be found in the “bigger” sports games. Hopefully, once rugby and maybe even cricket make the transition to the Xbox 360 and PS3, we’ll begin to see even further improvements and additions such as online play.

Can I have my shoe back now?

Can I have my shoe back now?
Graphically, while the game hasn’t been rebuilt or anything, it is actually a very good-looking PS2 game. The character models are exceptionally well detailed and all move quite robustly. Not to mention, a lot of the players manage to retain a decent likeness to their real-life counterparts. Stadiums are well built and house many lively crowds and the weather effects are a great aesthetic touch. In terms of sound, the EA trax populate the menus while the commentary is again done by Ian Robertson and Grant Fox. The commentary is solid but often feels limited and doesn’t always reflect what is happening. The atmosphere generated by the crowd manages to be quite involving.

As we’ve mentioned, Rugby 08 does stray into familiar territory, especially if you’ve played a lot of Rugby 06. Still, the additions and improvements to the game are definitely welcome, particularly the Challenge mode that accompanies the World Cup and the minor improvements in the complex aspects such as scrums, lineouts, rucks and mauls. Still, there is some tightening that can happen and in particular, the rucks still could use some balancing. Otherwise, Rugby 08 is a fun and challenging game that is also quite well built. Hopefully, this trend continues into the future, particularly as the games probably move to the next generation.
The Score
While not quite a classic yet, Rugby 08 is a good game that can be enjoyed by gamers and Rugby fans alike.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Rugby 08 Content

Rugby 08 announced
06 Jul, 2007 Coming to the PS2 and the PC.
Rugby 06 Review
04 Mar, 2006 Ra-ra returns for another year.
Rugby 06 Preview
26 Jan, 2006 EA offloads their latest Rugby addition.
Add Comment
Like this review?
Share it with this tiny url: http://palg.nu/Rd

N4G : News for Gamers         Twitter This!

Digg!     Stumble This!

| More
  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  27/07/2007 (Confirmed)
  Electronic Arts
Year Made:

Related Media
Currently Popular on PALGN
Australian Gaming Bargains - 08/12/11
'Tis the season to be bargaining.
R18+ Legislation
R18+ Legislation
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations Preview
Hands on time with the game. Chat time with the CEO of CyberConnect 2.
PALGN's Most Anticipated Games of 2007
24 titles to keep an eye on during 2007.
PALGN's Most Anticipated Games of 2008
And you thought 2007 was populated.