I should start this review with being 100% honest with all of you - I have no idea the rules and the concepts behind the sport of Rugby. I did a ton of research on the sport, as in I looked on Wikipedia to try and understand it, and the best observation I came up with was that it was a mix of our American Football and Soccer. Nonetheless I was happy to check out Rugby 08 for the Sony PS2, which hoped to better acquaint the gamers around the world with the rugged sport of Rugby. Does the game do the job right? Read our full review to find out!
If there is one thing that I should give EA credit for is that it has been doing a great job of branching out to other sports, to give them their day in the spotlight in terms of gaming. We have seen EA bring out games like Arena Football, which has very little play here in the United States, NASCAR, and even college baseball. Now we are looking at a sport that I don’t even know if you can find on TV these days here in the US, Rugby, with their latest game Rugby 08 for the PlayStation 2.
For most of you, I would recommend sitting down to the game’s extremely brief tutorial on the controls and such to get you well familiarized with the game. As you will see right from the onset of the game, the controls were made with ease of use in mind. However what was extremely disappointing to me is that EA knows that the US market has very limited knowledge of the sport of Rugby, and their lack of explaining the sport through the tutorial was to me a complete misfire. So instead they let you know how the game is played but very little on how scoring and the play actually works. So thus I went onto Wikipedia to get a little more insight to the rule book and more information on the sport.
If you decide to skip everything and just jump into a game, you’re going to be like a fish out of water. Make no mistake, this is a really complex sport that really requires some knowledge of how it works. EA did offer up a few different control schemes making some easier for the novices like myself and others, and also provides more advanced ones for the experts. In general though I think EA did do a good job outside of explaining the rules for making this game accessible.
In general the mechanics are actually pretty impressive. The tackling and the actual team mechanics in the game are really solid. You will be surprised how much work would have to go into the AI of a Rugby title, because there are a lot of different aspects that go into each game. As mentioned at the top of the review, although this is a pretty barren description of Rugby, it is like implementing a football and soccer game into one and the developers did a solid job.
The game was created with the upcoming World Cup for Rugby in mind, and thus you have the ability to take your team through the ranks to get to the World Cup. Similar to a game like FIFA, which did the same thing the experience isn’t overly deep but it gets the job done nonetheless. In the end, the gameplay really drives this title, and if you give it a chance can really impress even the novice Rugby fan.
Although we are at a point where all we talk about is the difference between 720p and 1080p or the advantages of Blu-ray and HDMI, there are still a multitude of previous generation content mainly on the PS2 still being developed, and with that you can’t overlook the fact that Rugby 08 is still a solid looking game. The only problem I had was the overly generic character models that were placed throughout the game. There is literally no life at all in any of the players, they look like zombies at times. Other than that, the visuals hold up relatively well, offering up great camera angles and just a smooth frame rate from start to finish.
It is not that often that I get a sports game that is based on a sport I know little to nothing about. Yet nevertheless Rugby 08 is still a game that I began to understand more and more throughout my time with it, and if I was to ever watch a match I believe I could hold my own in understanding what exactly was going on with everything on field. The mechanics in this game are what impress me the most. They have just a great fluid feel to them that really makes the sport of Rugby come alive on the PS2.
Although I don’t know how many pure Rugby fanatics there are out there, I do know that many of you should give this game a shot. If not just to learn about the sport, then to just enjoy the great mechanics that the game sets before you. If you have ever been interested in Rugby, this is the game to check out for you.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.