My REVIEW of Rugby 2005

Discussion in 'Rugby Video Games & Apps' started by locksley, Feb 8, 2005.

  1. locksley

    locksley Guest

    RUGBY 2005 – REVIEW –

    After playing the full version of Rugby 2005 for some days now, I thought I’d share my views with you by posting this review!

    Firstly let me start by saying I’m not really that much of a Rugby Union fan! Rugby League is my main sport, So with this in mind, I’m sure you’ll understand when I say that I’m not too clued up on teams and players, and I probably can’t answer questions honestly about certain players features etc, as I don’t know them. However, I love playing Rugby video games of any kind on game consoles!

    The first thing about Rugby 2005 that stunned me was the sublime graphics! The cut scenes are immaculately done, and the animation on the players is incredibly detailed and fluid throughout! The game looks awesome, and that to me, is a fantastic starting point! As soon as I played my first match against New Zealand and saw them perform the Haka, I got goosebumps! This is one cut scene that I still have not skipped! It adds greatly to the atmosphere. Also, during a wet weather match, the way the players’ kits get progressively dirtier is far better than any other sports game I’ve played! At the end of one 10 minute match, both teams were covered in mud so much, I couldn’t tell them apart!!!! Love it!

    Considering Rugby union is a sport where a lot of contact is made, Rugby 2005 has done a great job graphically with the rucks! Lots of bodies piling in, but it never looks messy! There’s hardly any clipping either, all players look, and more importantly, feel solid! The tackle animations are varied too! From tiny ankle taps right through to bone crunching big hits, each one looks the business! This can be said for nearly all of the moves in Rugby 2005 such as passes, steps, fends and shoulder charges!

    There are, however, a few small flaws! Firstly, the camera angles! There are only 4 camera angles (Classic, Classic 2, Broadcast and Side) in the game, and, quite frankly, 2 of them are useless! Rugby 2005 is best played using either the Side or Classic 2 camera Angles, as both of these make the game very playable, even though they’re not perfect! Classic Angle is complete rubbish! This is similar to the “Near end†camera angle from WCR! It doesn’t matter who has the ball, the camera doesn’t change! However, the main gripe – and it’s a game ruining one – is the fact that when you’re attacking towards the screen if you push L1 to pass left, it’ll pass to the players left and vice versa with R1! What this means, is that even though you’re passing left on the pad, the ball gets thrown to the right!!!! It’s incredibly annoying and renders that Camera Angle completely redundant! How HB and EA haven’t spotted this is beyond me!!!

    Secondly, the kicking arrows used in general play are almost identical to the useless ones used in Rugby 2004! You never get a good idea where your kick is going, or how high it’ll go! And the jumping animation is terrible! You never seem to time the jumps right, and it looks plain odd!

    Overall, the Graphics are marvellous! Easily on a par with FIFA, and if you take into account the fact that Rugby has a lot more things happening at one time compared to football, it makes the graphics seem that bit sweeter!

    Rugby 2005 has a great set of sound effect! From the cheers of the crowd to the crunch of a tackle, each sound is fantastic! EA have also got a lot of licensed songs from well known (To some people, not me!!) groups for the menus, which compliment the game!

    During the matches, you’ll hear your team mates call out, and also instructions from different referees! For some reason, the irish referee makes me howl with laughter. I’m not knocking the irish accent, but you seem to hear him more clearly than the others. The crowd noise seems to get louder as you start to press the line! The players shout “Heeeeeavvve†during a scrum, and everything sounds great and just how it should be!

    The commentary, however, is a different story! This time round you’ve got Ian Robertson and Murray Mexted! My initial reaction to hearing Robertson was, “Oh, he sounds a bit like Bill Mclaren,†and maybe that’s where some websites have got their wires crossed when they named McLaren as the commentator! Robertson is no Bill McLaren though!
    Although a massive improvement (it had to be really) over RUGBY 2004, the commentary still seems as though it’s lacking in plenty of areas! For starters, you can tell that both Robertson and Mexted are reading from a script! There’s little emotion there, a distinct lack of emphasis and it still sounds a touch “Cut and Paste†for my liking! In short, it’s boring to listen to! Andrew Voss did a sterling job on NRL because he sounded like he meant everything he said and he injected some humour into it! The classic pairing of McLaren and Beaumont on JLR was much the same, with some memorable quotes and one liners from that game! Rugby 2005 will not be remembered for its commentary! It’s neither great or rubbish… it’s just.. there!

    Overall, RUGBY 2005’s superb sound effects are good enough to drown out the dreary commentary, and this is one game that sounds as good as it looks!!!

    The list of features included in Rugby 2005 is quite impressive! It’s certainly a step above the odd tournament from Rugby 2001! There’s the “play now†option, which gets you straight into the team selection screen ready for a match. Then there’s the player creation section. This is a bit hit and miss! There’s lots of scope for you to make anybody you want with the in depth face creator section, but the lack of flexibility in the create body section is depressing! Also, you have to assign a commentary name to the player you’ve created. This is all fine and good, but if the players name that you’ve created isn’t on the list, you still have to assign one even though it may sound nothing like the name you’ve created! It would’ve been nice to have been given the option for a number to be announced if the name you want isn’t on the list! You can also change players accessories (Scrumcaps, wrist tape etc), assign abilities to them and give them stats as you see fit! All in all, it’s an improvement from 2004, but the body section is still rubbish!

    Training mode is a real pleasure, and I still have a quick go on it now and again, even though I’ve finished them all! Training mode includes the following:

    • Free Play – Just you, on your own with no team running around trying moves on the pitch!
    • Training Drills – Learn the Side-step, Fend, Shoulder Charge, Tackling and all kicks here!
    • Scrimmage - Practice match with two full teams
    • Goal Kicking – Self-explanatory really!

    If anyone has played NFL fever and used the training mode there, then they know what to expect with this section! This section is a fun and valuable addition to Rugby 2005, and really does help you to hone your skills!

    The tournament section is the main crux of the game! All kinds of leagues, cups etc can be found here, including the World League, which has made it across from Rugby 2004 unscathed! It seems to me that EA haven’t got all the licenses they’d hoped for as some of these tournaments are renamed!

    These include:

    • World Championship
    • Tri Nations
    • Six Nations
    • Ten Nations
    • Super 12
    • European Trophy
    • World League
    • Lions Tour

    If you played the World league section in Rugby 2004 then you’ll know what to expect with this years effort! It is an engrossing challenge and it’s probably the main reason that the single player will keep on playing Rugby 2005 ‘til 2006 comes along! All the other tournaments are well worth playing, and can be played in multi-player as well as single player mode!

    On top of all this, you’ve got the Rugby 101 section! Which is a short, non-interactive, video tutorial using in-game footage to show you the basic rules of Rugby Union! It’s a welcome addition and newcomers to the sport will benefit from this basic tutorial.
    Overall, Rugby 2005 has lots of features to keep the single player happy, and just as much stuff in there to keep the multi-players happy too! With a vast amount of stadiums, teams, tournaments, a decent creation system, and a superb training mode, Rugby 2005 has done an excellent job in this department!

    No matter what people say, a game without gameplay is pathetic! If the gameplay is brilliant, you can do without fancy graphics and top-notch sound. Take a look at Tetris on the gameboy as a perfect example of this! Of course, if you’ve got a game that plays brilliantly, sounds superb and looks as good as Kylie Minogue bending over in a tiny thong, then you’re onto a winner! So what’s Rugby 2005 like to play? Read on and find out!

    As soon as you’ve booted up, the game puts you into a training mode! You have to pass all the tests set before you can even attempt to play a match! This is a great idea and actually helps you to get to grips with the controls. It takes you through the basics such as running, passing, kicking etc, right through to lineouts, rucks and scrums! The default view is the Side camera, and seeing as I played the demo using this view, I soon got into the swing of things! After the training was complete, I started my first match!

    I decided to play the first game using the “Classic 2†camera angle! At first, I wished I hadn’t! I enjoyed the build up, the Haka and the cut-scenes, but as soon as kick off came, and the view of the kicker came into sight with that horrible, translucent blue arrow, horrible memories of Rugby 2004 came flooding back! “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, I cried as the AI kicked off to me! What happened next was nothing short of a miracle! I caught the ball and ran with it, that’s all! But that’s all it took to realise that this game was as far away from Rugby 2004 in gameplay terms as possible! The animation is silky smooth, the analog stick is superbly responsive and the speed of the game is nigh on perfect! As soon as I passed the ball I whooped with joy! Gone was the stilted, horrible, floaty animation from 2004, and it was replaced by a buttery smooth, bullet pass! I was over the moon… and that was just from a small run and a single pass! My excitement grew, along with the grin on my face as I rucked, passed, tackled, sprinted and busted my way through the first match!

    One of the things that impressed me the most was the vast improvement of the AI defence! No longer can you throw a ball out to the wing and run in for a try every time. Oh no, this time, the defence slides across and the centre and winger are rarely fooled and stick to their man like glue! You really have to work hard to create overlaps to get the better of these AI defenders! Not only that, when the AI is attacking, it’s just as clever as the defensive AI! They use set plays, and go for gaps rather than passing along the line! The improvement from 2004 cannot be measured, because it’s way too much! The feeling I got from my first match was one of sheer brilliance! It really plays like Rugby Union! Every yard gained really counts and territory is everything! When you perform a set play and it results in a try, you have to punch the air because it makes you feel like doing so! A very good start!

    In order to grasp what the gameplay is like, I’ve broken it down into sections below:


    The basic element that should be perfect in Rugby games is passing! If this doesn’t work, then a lot of enjoyment will be lost! Rugby 2005’s passing system is almost spot on! It’s quick, responsive and fluid! As soon as the button is tapped, the ball is passed! Brilliant! The passes themselves feel right, and the cut out pass is easily done, by holding the pass button in for a second before releasing! Also, if the ball is in mid air after a pass and you tap the pass button again, the receiver will pass the ball on as soon as he gets it! This works superbly, and makes a “Quick hands†move such a doddle!

    The reason I say it’s almost a perfect system is due to a couple of things. Firstly, if your backline isn’t quite ready from a ruck then the pass will go to ground and bounce all over the place! I suppose this is a good simulation of a real rugby game. You’ve got to get the balance between holding on in a ruck to wait for the right pass, thus risking a turnonver, or just get a quick pass in and hope for the best! I just happen to think that there are too many passes thrown to ground at rucks, and it’s frustrating to have to chase a bouncing ball miles back down the field when you’re camped on the opposition try line!

    Secondly, offloads are mostly non-existent! You can pass just before the tackle is made, but you can’t get a pass away as you’re being tackled…. Even if it’s around the legs and your arms are free! This stops the fluidity of the game a bit, especially when you just know that an offload would put that unmarked man in at the corner! However, contrary to what you believe, it doesn’t affect the passing game that much!


    The amount of tackle animations in Rugby 2005 is superb! HB have decided to stick with the “Run-into-the-player†tackle, and the dive tackle is made by pushing “Xâ€! However, HB have refined this system and it works really well. The tackle control is the same in every situation, but the animation of the tackle differs! This works surprisingly well makes defending just as good as attacking!

    You have to be quite disciplined with this system. At first, its way too easy to sprint into tackles and push X every time, resulting in a ridiculous amount of defenders diving all over the show! However, stick with it, take your time, don’t rush in and you’ll soon be defending like a trooper! Like 2004, your players do stray offside a bit. This isn’t too much of a problem, as one quick press of L2 changes that player and the offside won’t be given!

    The other thing to note about the tackling system is the D-Pad defence setting system! At each ruck, you can set your defence to a tight, wide, kick or standard defensive line with a quick tap of the D pad! It’s a good system and works well enough.


    After lots of questions regarding the rucking system of Rugby 2005, I’ve decided to analyse the system it uses! First off, it seems simple enough! You get tackled, and then you add men with X to prevent a turnover! However, all is not what it seems! If you get tackled and still have the ball, you have a choice to pass the ball out straight away! This is a bit silly as the backline won’t be set and the ball will just be thrown anywhere! So what you’ve got to do, is put the men in the ruck tactically, to keep hold of the ball while the backline is set! This is especially crucial if you wish to perform an on-the-fly set play! I’ll go into that in more detail later!

    If you wish to pass the ball from the ruck to a forward to crash onto, then you have to make sure that you’ve not put too many men in that ruck! Put one extra man in, and keep hold as long as you can ‘til the forwards are in position to receive the ball! It is a great system, and light years ahead of the attempts of 2001 and 2004!


    Very similar to Rugby 2004, but there’s no choosing your way through about 60 screens of meaningless diagrams beforehand. Same again, you hold X, O, or Triangle to throw the ball, then, when you release it, you push down, right or up on the D-pad to catch! It’s all about timing, and once you’ve figured it out, it’s easy! The AI lineouts are almost impossible to win, but before each one, there’s a slight animation in the AI line giving you a clue as to which jumper will be used! Lineouts where actually a decent part of Rugby 2004, and they’ve been improved and refined in this years version.


    Once again, Rugby 2004 scrums are back! Same as the lineouts, there’s no choosing set plays beforehand, it’s all done on the fly now! This is quicker, slicker and much more effective giving the game a less stilted feel. Feed the ball in with X, hook it with Square, and then away you go! The left analog pushes or digs the scrum, and that’s that!


    Hmmmmmm. Far too Rugby 2004 for my liking! If there’s one part of Rugby 2004 that was really abysmal – apart from the graphics, sound and gameplay – it was the kicking system! Why HB Studios have decided to keep it is anyones guess??? To be fair, it’s not as bad as 2004, but it’s still pretty shoddy! Grubber kicks still go anywhere other than where you want them too, and punts downfield don’t go anywhere near as far as you’d hope them too! Drop goals aren’t too bad, but Jonah Lomu Rugby and NRL Rugby League had far better kicking systems! The ball physics, again, are slightly “odd†after a kick! It’s as if there’s still a magnet on the touchline pulling the ball towards them. Nowhere near as bad as last years game, but still not too good! Shame really, as this is one part of Rugby 2005 that’s a bit of a letdown!


    Now then, this is more like it! I personally thing it’s too hard to get right, but that’s a good thing! You start the kicking meter off and let it get all the way around to the top. Then you push X again to stop it. As the bar makes it’s way back down, you have a small limited space where you’ve got to push X again to stop the bar. Even when I’ve got it spot on, I miss! I think it’s good, cos you really have to watch where you put the arrow, and take the wind into account too! Also, the samoan goal kicker, for example, has a much smaller space to stop the bar than Johnny Wilkinson does!


    These are actually a very, very good idea that’s not implemented as well as it should be! What happens is this: After you’ve won the ball at a ruck or scrum, you choose a set play with a flick of the D-pad! You can choose from Classic, Switch, Pivot and Pocket! No more, no less! What happens then is the halfback has an icon like an upside-down triangle above his head and this starts flashing! When it turns green and stays that way, you push L1 or R1 to pass and start the set play in motion! Next, the fly half will get the ball, while the runners will appear with icons above their heads, you then choose one! The set play will run its course until the runner you picked receives the ball and you take control from then on. Now, the AI uses set plays a lot after rucks and scrums, and they generally work very well for them! It’s a bit of a different story when the player tries it though! The AI seems to have an idea which player you’re going to pick,and it’s very rare that you get through! This does even itself out in Multiplayer though, so it’s not a major worry!

    Now then, I mentioned before about set plays at the ruck. This is where Rugby 2005 has it’s simulation hat on! In order to have the icon above the halfbacks head turn green, you have to wait about 5 seconds while it flashes. In this time, the defending team can easily turn over the ruck if you don’t put your men in at the right time to keep the ball on your side! So what do you do? Do you stick with two men in the ruck and hope the ball doesn’t get turned over while you wait for the icon to go green? This is good, as you’ll have more runners in the backline ready to confuse the defense and create overlaps, but it’s highly likely that the ball will get turned over! Or, do you strategically place men at regular intervals in the ruck to ensure you keep the ball as the icon turns green, thus leaving less players in the attacking line? The choice is yours, and this is where Rugby 2005 has really excelled itself!

    The set plays are a good addition to the game, but it’s a shame that there are only 4 to choose from and that they don’t wonrk as well against the AI as they do against another human player!


    I’ve touched on a couple of bad points such as the camera angles etc, but my main gripe with Rugby 2005 is the kicking system that’s still in place from Rugby 2004! It is better in 2005, but it should’ve been given a complete overhaul. Also, on the medium difficulty I found it very hard to score a try in any game! Now this, to me, was great! You have to work at scoring tries. However, a couple of other people who I know played this and both of them told me it was way too easy and were regularly beating teams by 50 points or more in 10 minute matches! I couldn’t believe how they were doing it…. And then they showed me!!!! Now, I’m NOT going to tell you what the technique is, as I don’t want the game spoiling before you’ve got it. I tried the technique, and I too was scoring tries with alarming regularity and became increasingly disappointed. This one flaw could have ruined the game whole heartedly for me, as it worked in the multiplayer too! But, with a bit of concentration and hard work in defence, I stopped it happening in the multiplayer mode and felt a lot better! It seems that a lot of EASPORTS games have some kind of flaw! In NHL Hockey on PS2, if you whack the puck at the net from the halfway line while stood at the side wall, it results in a goal every time!!! In FIFA, everybody knows about the “Sweet spots†that you can stand in and score goals time and time again! It appears that this has happened with Rugby 2005 too, although it’s not as obvious. It doesn’t totally ruin the game though, as teams like the All blacks and the Aussies sort you out good and proper…. And I haven’t tried hard mode yet!!!

    Also, the game plays totally differently on Classic 2 angle than it does on the Side view! You can make more breaks on the side view and kick further, but the Classic 2 version feels better!


    So there we have it, my review of Rugby 2005. I personally think that it’s the best rugby game out there at the moment! I am a massive JLR fan, and I still play that game in multiplayer today, but not any longer. Although you do get a feeling that it could fall into the 2004 mode at any time, it never does! This is the game that 2004 should’ve been! The graphics are sharp, the sound is fantastic and the gameplay is right off the top shelf! None of the rugby games on the market at the minute can come close to this. All of them have good points and bad points, but none look or play as well as this does. It plays like Rugby union and more importantly, it feels like it too!

    The next Rugby game released, be it WCR or NRL 2, is going to have to be pretty special to beat this! So come on Sidhe!!! Come on Swordfish, let’s see what you powerhouse rugby developers have got up your sleeves! EA have definitely thrown the gauntlet down, I know you’re up to the challenge!

    This year, is going to be a very exciting year indeed!!!!


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  3. raziel_eire

    raziel_eire Guest

    Cheers for the full length review locksley... you've just confirmed that I am going to like this game - fair enough its not perfect, but it sounds genuinely enjoyable and that works in my books.

    I hope everyone has a good read then re-read of this review and it clarifies any question marks folk had over this game. We should all take into account what you've said before further dismissing this version of the game.

    ... if this is the end-product that EA give us after what must of been mediocre sales (after the first week) of Rugby 2004, I think we can expect a better product again for 2006 with further investment/features etc when this version sells twice as many copies.

    (I have one question but I'll post it up later and in a diff thread)

    Cheers again dude


    u sound like a professional critic like u work 4 ps2 magazine or something lol....great review
  5. locksley

    locksley Guest

  6. ak47

    ak47 Guest


    the sound of my head against the wall as my quest for 1 month coma to speed things up [​IMG]

    cheers locks
  7. Cheers, Locks.
  8. esoj

    esoj Guest

    thanks alot Locksley nice review good to know that world league is back. Shame about the kicking but meh guess will have to deal with it.
  9. Indeed, that was a great review Locksley and your review has made my decision final! I am buying this game [​IMG]

    I have been waiting anxiously for a good rugby game and it looks like EA have done a good job. People have to remember this is only their second release in the series and its just going to keep getting better and better. The only way this is going to happen though is if people buy and support the product. If this game doesn't sell well than EA is not going to produce a great product. Wonder why Madden, NHL, NBA, and FIFA are so great? Its because thewy sell millions upon millions of copies of each game. If we want Rugby to be as great as these franchises then we have to support EA and its endeavours in bringing rugby to the pc.
  10. locksley

    locksley Guest

    This game is the 3rd Rugby release from EA on the PS2! If you include EA SPORTS RUGBY 2001!

    They also made Australian Rugby League on the megadrive, and ARL 96/IRL on the PC!
  11. And RWC '95 for Sega and PC.

    I will fight tooth and nail for that game, though by the looks of it, Rugby 2005 just might surpass it.
  12. sanzar

    sanzar Guest

    Being primarily a league fan, did you find that you enjoyed this game more than Sidhe's SJRL/NRL/SL game? While the initial release of that game was fantastic, the fan made patches brought the game up even several notches more! What I 'm asking is, comparing Rugby 2005 to a fan edited, high res, updated roster etc version of NRL, would you still say Rugby 2005 is better??
  13. locksley

    locksley Guest

    I've got NRL on my PC complete with all the patches, upgrades etc and I really do enjoy it! However, NRL is primarily an arcade game rather than a balls out simulation of Real Rugby League! Rugby 2005 is completely the opposite! Although it's enjoyable to play, it sticks rigidly to the union formula, and although I'm not a union fan, I do prefer this game, yes!

    However, we do not know what Sidhe have up their sleeve for their planned sequel do we?
  14. sanzar

    sanzar Guest

    Yeah I suppose your right... it was a bit like WCR in the style of play, but not as one dimensional IMO, not a sim by any measure true, but still an engrossing RL experience none the less.
  15. Locks, I think this makes sense in a kind of flight simulator up-is-down-kinda way. I figure things should always be from the players perspective (in-game).
  16. kinkon89

    kinkon89 Guest

    wat view does that passing problem happen in?

    btw thanx for the review.....cant wait!
  17. NZL Fan

    NZL Fan Guest

    Excellent review Locks, thanks for taking the time to write it up.

    One question I do have however is the "world league". I didn't play rugby 2004 enough (before I binned it!!) to know whether this was the "Master league mode" or not??
    Does this mean you can buy players etc in rugby 2005 in this game mode??, or is it just one big league involving all/any of the worlds best club sides??

    Also still trying to find out if the Pacific Island team is included?? (very doubtful it seems now)..........
  18. umosay

    umosay Guest

    Yeah, World League is Master League.

    Great review locks - that must have taken a while [​IMG]
  19. C A Iversen

    C A Iversen Guest

    Well , certainly the most enjoyable thread I've read yet, Locksley. I think you've covered almost everyones concerns and boy am I relieved.
    Great reviewing, I thought you were very thorough.
    Is this win easily flaw something my friends and I could just ban each other doing, and eliminate it that way?
    Providing we discovered it of course.
  20. ..::ERIC::..

    ..::ERIC::.. Guest

    With grubber kicks, do the players come to a complete hault before kicking like in 04? Or do you just drop is onto the boot like WCR / real life?
  21. Black|Raven

    Black|Raven Guest

    now dats wat im talkin...BOUT!
    niggles aside, i've waited too long 4 a rugby game to surpass the king(JLR), for u(loks) to be a rugby league fan and say its the new "king" really says sumfin bout the game. you have now made the wait that little more painfull. [​IMG]

    STILL........CANT WAIT [​IMG]
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