Being Welsh and from the land where everyone lives and breathes Rugby, you would think that I would be best suited for this review – well this wasn’t always the case. The first time I watched a game of Rugby it was the 1999 World Cup that my father dragged me to – I think it was Samoa vs Argentina, not a clue who won, I remember my father telling me off for sitting down for the entirety of the proceedings, we were in the standing section of the ground and I “looked bored” for the entirety of the game. I was more of an American Football guy anyway. Knocking on, that’s just an incomplete pass, surely?! Why are the defence and offense on the pitch at the same? It’s a very confusing sport. I’m happy to say my Welsh blood runs strong and happily for my Dad, I now love the sport as much as my beloved Grid Iron.
I don’t like starting on negatives with games, unless there’s a load of positives to talk about and you can get all of the disappointments out-of-the-way early and talk about everything you loved in the game, sadly this isn’t going to be the case with Rugby 15.
The controls are awful, it feels like the developer thought “Let’s find a game that we could make 8 mini games out of and do them all exactly the same” – ok, eight mini games is an exaggeration but the three mini games they have included are exactly the same! Rucking, Mauling, and the Scrums are identical! If you want to win the ball on these passages of play you have to find the sweet spot with the analog stick, the bar highlights green which means you’re good to play the ball without being penalised, when the bar is yellow you run the risk of being penalised, when it’s red, you get penalised. Simple, yes?
Right, that’s the first bit of negative out-of-the-way, on to the second. Rugby is a game based on possession, territory and exploitation of the numbers game. Like a game of Risk, played by Rhino’s. If you’re lucky enough the passing mechanism doesn’t completely ruin any sort of break away – you’re quickly halted by a single tackle that you can’t side step or do a skill move as you would in real life – you have no option but to take the hit and sure enough, a mini game ensues. It’s impossible to get any sort of overlap on the go to create gaps. I tried multiple times and ended up throwing the ball to the ground where a player dives on it and… yes, you’ve got it – a mini game ensues.
You’ll find that this happens a lot with this dreadful pass mechanic that the game has been given. The last Rugby game I played on a console was the rather brilliant effort by Codemasters with Jonah Lomu Rugby on the Playstation back in my early teens. I also had an EA rugby game for the PC that ran like a one-legged dog with asthma on my low spec desktop, yet the passing on the EA game was still a smoother, more fluid experience than this. You pressed a button to move the ball one way, you pressed a different button to move the ball the other away. Ok so the ball would often come loose or get intercepted, as it does in the real game but oh my god this torturous mechanism in Rugby 15 must have been spawned from Satan himself. I even found myself slinging the ball over my head in the direction where I had just ran!
When you think that you’re going to get tackled, which is pretty much when you take a step after receiving the ball, you’re instantly put on the floor. You have to use the right stick, highlight a player you want to pass too – while running and looking where you’re going – press the Left Trigger and pray to god it doesn’t go to the other team. Surely using the bumpers on the controller would have been the better option? You know, left bumper to move it left, right bumper to move it right.
The biggest gripe I have came before I even played a match. As stated, I’m Welsh, I’m quite proud of that fact. Yes, I support an English Football team but when it comes to egg chasing I’m a patriotic Welshman so being greeted with no option to play in the league of my homeland, the country that lives, eats, sleeps rugby, I was a bit outraged. The only way I could play as one of the teams from my home was to play the European cup competition – where I could only choose from a few Welsh teams.
With the World Cup just around the corner surely there should have been an international season option; there are a lot of tricks missed in this game. The game plays a lot like a how we used to play back at school – 15 boys chasing the ball and not a single bit of cohesion.
From the outset, I wasn’t a fan of Rugby 15. The lack of Welsh and international teams annoyed me. The mini games bored me with their lack of variation and the passing mechanic was incredibly frustrating that didn’t allow for a smooth fluid representation of the sport. There are a lot of features and modes that could have been added to Rugby 15 to make it more appealing – an international game mode where you just play as England would have been a start.
Not being able to play rugby as I know it was incredibly frustrating, every move or advancement down the field was instantly broken down by a single tackle. Graphically, the game isn’t what you would expect from an Xbox One title either, it reminded me of Sensible World of Soccer on the Mega drive, which isn’t a bad thing, but not everyone likes the retro look these days – I on the other hand thought this was the game’s only silver lining.
Thanks to Big Ben Interactive for supplying TiX with a download code
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