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2008 impressions



I won't give a proper review, at least not yet since I have to get used to the pc controls (had '06 on xbox).

Am I glad I bought it? Yes. It's obvious after the first match that this game will be more enjoyable, less repetitive and less frustrating.


The is what was most important to me so this is what I'll start with:

1. AI will not kick for one half and pass for the other. It will choose a play depending on the situation.

2. AI will actually put the ball in touch so you can't counter-attack.

3. AI will actually use it's support when it makes a break. Not always, but often enough to lead to a score.

4. More intelligent tactical kicking. Larkham wouldn't kick keep bombing or kicking from the 50 straight down my throat for a mark, counter-attack etc. When he was kicking he would nearly always get it in touch (ie beat my back 3). One or two balls were easy marks, but these were closer to the sideline and much MUCH less frequent than in '06.

5. AI will make good use of both forwards and backs in attack. Scrumhalf will run it and pass to the forward and they will often break the line. In my game passing it out to the backs didn't lead to many set plays, mainly more improvised stuff which was harder to defend against.

6. Slightly better defence it appeared. AI for player team don't just stand there and let opposing players run around them, so you don't actually have to control the defence yourself (although obviously a player will be better). The AI seems to close the diagonal run gap better (AI seems to rush up in a line better than before), although with the 'tahs I didn't really have the speed to properly exploit it to see if it is still as bad as '06. Either way you'll at least need a quick back to exploit it. I made a few diagonal breaks and gained some territory but I never had the space I would have had in '06.

The AI is the thing I was worried about the most and it seems much better. At no point in the game did I actually notice the AI do something stupid. Everything it did made sense.


Feels a bit smoother than '06. I didn't try the sim version for offloads or lineouts, but I think it is a must. The normal lineout version is picking who you want to throw it to and that is it. It requires absolutely no skill. I only used arcade version since I was getting used to the controls.

Scrums are better. You view them from the side so you can clearly see the feed and hook. The shoves are also more progressive, and it's possible to win the initial shove but then be shoved back and lose the scrum. You need to keep the pressure on until you get the ball out so this is a nice touch.

Rolling mauls are more progressive as well, and as has been said you can't get too greedy, otherwise the maul will collapse and the opposition will get the feed to a scrum. I haven't seen how far mauls can go.

This leads to a control problem I had. You use the analog stick to push in scrums and mauls, but you also use it to select a set play. So basically the stick can control two different things at the same time, which lead me to selecting set plays I didn't want. This was pretty frustrating. I must be missing something but I think it was a very poor decision to have the controls work this way.

Other control issues were the special moves: these were performed using the right analog stick on the xbox, but on the pc version I have to hold the left shoulder button and then press one of the X,A,B,Y buttons to perform a special move. Problem is that these buttons, when not holding the shoulder button, perform different kinds of kicks. Occasionally I forgot to press the shoulder button and found my player trying to kick instead of fend. Yes it is my fault, but again the controls could have been laid out better. No reason not to use the digital pad and the right analog stick.

Like in '06 the "ref" and "touch judge" doesn't always make correct decisions. Eg they might "miss" a knock-on or let the opposition get the throw in even though the ball deflected off them and into touch. Not a big deal but obviously we'd prefer it not to be there.

The exploit of running across field then kicking (for a 22 to 22) is still there although the bounce of the ball seems less predictable. I don't do this myself as it is cheap ;)

I kind of played around with the cameras and you can actually make the game harder by choosing a camera that zooms in. One advantage we have is that in the game we can always seem when we have an overlap etc, where as in real life a player can't see the whole field. Zoom in ;)


I had the xbox version of '06 so the pc version is significantly better. I play it on 1600x1200 resolution so it obviously looks much sharper than on xbox or ps2. Not next gen stuff but to be honest with the views we use next gen graphics wouldn't make all that much difference. The animations do feel smoother.

The menu looks better in '08 but I felt it was sloppy on pc. The "start" and "back" keys on my gamepad aren't mapped in '08, so I need to used "esc" on the keyboard or the mouse. The mouse also doesn't scroll with the wheel which would have been handy going through lists.

The developers took a step backwards in laying out the player stats screen, it takes up the whole screen in a grid layout instead of a nice list like in previous versions. When swapping player positions you have to click the player name, then a list comes up and you click swap, and then you click on the other player. I'm not sure how the pc version worked last year but the xbox version you could just click the player then the other player. It's only a small issue but it shouldn't be there.

I wasn't able to get the proper understanding of chemistry, but I like the idea. When organising my team I could find out what the best front row was, but I found that no combos were formed anywhere else. Maybe it was just the quality of the players in my team. I forgot to test a player out of position.

Subbing players, I can't remember if you could juggle players around in different positions during the game without actually subbing them, but you can in '08. Ie when a centre gets injured and you have none on your bench, you can just get another on-field player to fill in that position and bring on a sub for the other position.

Quick and messy mini-review, but I would recommend it if you like rugby games. If you will play single player a lot then it is definitely an improvement over '06. I couldn't really say how easy it is since I'm used to a totally different gamepad key mapping. I read some people saying it might actually be easier, I doubt that as the AI seemed quite a bit better. Able to break your line and use support to score and able to contain you better on defence. I will guess that us hardcore players won't have much trouble with it, but using some house rules like a slower backline, challenging camera angles etc
Totally agree on the control problem with scrums/mauls. Every time I win a scrum my number 8 ends up peeling off on his own. Can we remap the controls?
could anyone tell me how good the gloucester players are???
really hope their backline is better than last time.
man ive gotta wait till friday till i get it. its been the longest 3 weeks of my life.
oh and i heard that there is an offside barrier, doesa that mean no offside affences then???
there is like an invisible offside wall from what I read making it really hard to get offside which happened a bit too often in 06. you can still get offside but you have to make a bit of an effort to do it this time around.
i dont like the sound of that. there were hardly any penaltys given in a match of 06 anyway. was only a hard for people who first played the game in 06. hopefully you can turn it on and off.
i dont like the sound of that. there were hardly any penaltys given in a match of 06 anyway

From what I see you can't turn it off, but you can still be caught offside (often a player you control won't move back enough. You can get penalised for more things, although unless you are aggressive (ie early/late tackles, offside) you won't get penalised much. AI gives away plenty of penalties.

you can still get offside but you have to make a bit of an effort to do it this time around.

I use a low to the ground end camera so it's hard for me to judge. I like to rush the flyhalf when he's clearing so I'll occasionally get caught there.

People were saying the classic camera doesn't work? Where you are looking in the direction of your goal line? Not true, I think the camera is "End". Work's like in '06, just that you can adjust the height and zoom in openplay and breakdowns (good feature).

I like to use a close zoom and low camera height so I can't see the whole field and properly judge gaps. It's more like looking at things from a player's perspective and it's a little tougher.

Totally agree on the control problem with scrums/mauls. Every time I win a scrum my number 8 ends up peeling off on his own. Can we remap the controls?

I think so, and I think it depends on the controller. It would be a huge improvement to be able to use the digital pad and right analog stick, is anyone else able to use these? For the scrums/mauls, for maul I select the set play before pushing in the maul. Ie if you are using end cam and want to use the pocket play, press down to select the play and then press up to push in the maul. The maul will still start moving. For the scrum I'm not sure since you need to push straight away. Maybe you can get away with selecting the play and then pushing since the hook probably gives you some time before you have to push, but it's a bit silly. I really don't know why it won't let us remap the controls. It's a pretty simple feature.
Totally agree on the control problem with scrums/mauls. Every time I win a scrum my number 8 ends up peeling off on his own. Can we remap the controls? [/b]

Do you actually have the game? I'm guessing you live in Ireland and I'm just wondering how and where you managed to get it because Play,GAME and HMV still have it listed for release on Friday.
I should also add that keeping possession is improved - making a break isn't an auto turnover. I still experienced a lot of turnovers, but it had more to do with the number of forwards in the area, and the turnovers were happening much more inside the 22 than outside it.
What about goal line defence? Can you still just take a hitup and score, or scoot? Or did they change it?
Can you still just take a hitup and score

Yep, also seemed to turn it over less when I was just short. I'm playing world league currently though, I found it much tougher in my first game ('tahs vs brumbies) so it might just be the opposition, or maybe just the fact that I was using new controls.

Brumbies game was much harder than my 4 world league games, apart from getting my clock cleaned by another div 3 team in the knockout cup. Ouch. I'm 3-0 in division games, one 30-26, then 17-15 and my latest was 51-10 or so.

The AI is performing some really nice tactical kicking, although occasionally kicking it out on the full (more than a good human player).

I found in ea rugby in general that great team vs great team was harder than crap vs crap, so I expect the game to actually get harder as I go on in world league, especially since the pace picks up and my I've set my camera views to be restrictive.
Pretty much the same from what I could tell, except now there is team chemistry and you can see the ratings of players before you buy them.

Chemistry possibly raises stats for the player. I bought Castle (I think) who was rated 86 in the transfer screen. When I placed him in my team he improved to 87. The manual says that good chemistry boosts attributes, so it might be more important to get a team that works well together instead of just very good players. Sounds good if it works as intended. You need good players or players with special abilities, although the manual doesn't explain it very well.
Just a warning for those playing the World Cup tournament on the PS2 version.

I've had two reports of the game freezing when a player gets injured, the menu will come up and it will freeze. So if you can turn off injuries to avoid this problem.
ive had it freeze twice when someone got injured - right after i had completed a hard challenge...

now i have to go back and try again :(
Yep I've had that problem too I was playing as the Junior All Blacks vs All Blacks and one of my players got injured and it froze on me so I had to flippin reset my Ps2. :angry:

I hope this isn't going to be a common thing cause I'd hate to be playing world league and that happens to me.
just reminder guys - keep saving your profile - i lost 4 completed challenges - total of 15 objectives due to a freeze!

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