Game review: Rugby World Cup 2015

Rugby World Cup 2015's graphics belong to a previous generation. Picture: Contributed
Rugby World Cup 2015's graphics belong to a previous generation. Picture: Contributed
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A poor and slender offering for rugby fans hoping for the definitive game

Game review: Rugby World Cup 2015

Platform: Xbox One (reviewed) / Playstation 3 / Xbox 360 / Playstation 3 / Playstation Vita / PC

Score: 4/10

DEVELOPED by HB Studios, the Canadian firm which has been making rugby games since 2003, Rugby World Cup 2015 comes just eight months after its previous release, the similarly named, Rugby 15, which received a scathing critical reception. But with a license to exploit one of the sport’s showpiece tournaments, has the company been able to up its game? The answer, regrettably, is no.

The first few minutes spent with RWC 15 give an ominous indication of what is to follow. Even before you take to the field for some action, the game feels distinctly underwhelming and low budget. Rather than presenting you with video footage or even animated graphics, a flurry of tutorials announcing the various controls take the form of static screens.

You are forced to learn moves and strategies on the hoof thanks to poor tutorials

Rather than making the schemes intelligible, it is like being forced to sit through a Keynote presentation from a middle manager in a marketing firm, and although there is a practice mode which will allow you get to grips with the controls, much is left for you to discover by yourself, not least the various offensive and defensive presets.

On the field, changes have been made and not for the better. Winning a turnover ball in a ruck is nigh on impossible and maintaining possession when you have the ball is straightforward. This means that games often descend into basketball-style affairs, where a pattern sees one team score before their opponents return the favour.

Passing can have momentum but the AI puts a spanner in the works

There are flashes of momentum when you get into a passing groove, feeding the ball from one player to the next, a process made easier by your opponents’ reluctance to tackle on easy and normal difficulty levels. Even then, sweeping moves are frequently cut short by the inane offensive approach of your AI teammates, who frequently stray offside.

The replication of the World Cup mode is presentable enough, with a range of league tables and stats for the various teams. Soon, though, it becomes clear that the AI is erratic, with lesser fancied nations able to claim wins against rugby powerhouses such as New Zealand and South Africa. The odd upset is permissible, but it happens too often to make the mode feel in any way realistic.

Some features are welcome additions but others have been removed

Feature-wise, the game builds on Rugby 15 in some ways, with the inclusion of action replays a welcome feature. Others, however, have been taken out. Strangely, it is no longer possible to choose to play a game in rainy conditions, an unfortunate state of affairs for anyone looking for the authentic experience of playing as Scotland.

Graphically, screenshots of the game could easily be mistaken for a free to play iOS title, although once in motion, they fare slightly better. The stadiums, meanwhile, are generic and although the audio of the crowd adds some atmosphere, the jerky, bobbing spectator models would not look out of place in a Playstation 2 game.

No online multiplayer is inexcusable in 2015

The biggest problem, however, is the lack of game modes. Save for the World Cup, exhibition matches and practice sessions, there are no other offerings. Criminally, there is no online multiplayer option at all, an inexcusable omission for a 2015 sports title. Rugby fans are still waiting for a great console game. Unfortunately, RWC 2015 is stuck in a ruck.

TIPS AND TRICKS:

Short passes are the best way to progress in an offensive move, as the longer throws go too far back.

Don’t pass too soon. It is possible to charge into opponents and gain a few metres before they attempt a tackle.

Avoid the vertical camera angle as it pauses and flips the perspective whenever the ball goes from one team to the other.