Rugby 08 Review
Rugby 08 comes to us at a time when most Americans' minds are on NCAA Football or Madden NFL. Rugby may be the sport that inspired football, but in the case of videogames it's the football games that are more inspired. Does Rugby 08 offer enough to get gamers to put Madden on the shelf for a little while? Probably notů
Rugby 08 is smart in that it knows that most Americans are probably not all that familiar with the sport. The first time you play the game it opens with a tutorial on the game's controls that also serves as a primer on the rules of the sport. When you see a rugby match for the first time it can be a bit difficult to figure out just what is going on, but once you make your way through the tutorial you'll have a basic understanding of the rules of the game - although rugby strategies are another matter entirely.
The controls for the game are pretty straightforward and rugby newbies will be able to start playing right away. All that you really need to worry about are pass left and right buttons and a dash button when you have the ball, and power tackle and player switching buttons when you don't. There's also a button for kicking the ball although I have to admit that I could never quite figure out when you're supposed to punt the ball in rugby.
Rugby 08 gives you a large roster of international teams along with their relative ratings so that those not quite so familiar with the sport can determine who's good or not. I came back from a trip to New Zealand with some cool All Blacks gear, so they were my team of choice. Besides, I liked the fact that the Maori war dance they do before each match was included in the game. You can setup any match-up that you'd like and jump right into a match, and even those new to the sport will be able to enjoy some success right away at the default difficulty level if they select one of the powerhouse squads. Things ramp up pretty quickly as you select higher difficulty levels, making things frustrating for rugby rookies but I'm sure that the veterans will appreciate the extra challenge.
I found the game to be fairly enjoyable, but with my limited knowledge of rugby I find it difficult to evaluate how authentic the play is in the game. The thing that I disliked the most was that the camera angle gives you a wide view of the field and things often get pretty crowded around the ball. I'm used to playing Madden NFL in which you can see the running lanes opening up in front of you, so I often felt like I was running headfirst into a blob of bodies.
The game comes with a number of tournament modes that allow you to compete in the top real-world rugby championships. There's also a franchise mode in which you need to take charge of a team and play your way up to a spot in a top-tier league. The management side of things in this mode is fairly light, primarily consisting of managing your roster between seasons. There is also a challenge mode which puts you into historic games and challenges you to either repeat or change the outcome of the game. This type of mode is usually pretty fun for me, but the Rugby 08 version is saddled with ludicrous objectives. Most scenarios have multiple objectives and include straightforward ones such as overcoming a halftime deficit. However, they all seem to include an off-the-wall objective such as requiring that at least one try be scored with a winger or that you must perform two consecutive shoulder charges before scoring. These objectives are too arbitrary and take all of the fun out of this mode, not to mention making them more difficult than they need to be. Lastly, I need to mention the missing mode - online play. In this day and age it's surprising that a sports game would ship without one, but that's the case here.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 74%. Rugby 08 is enjoyable enough to warrant a rental by those curious about the sport, but only serious followers of the sport will find it holding their attention for longer.