After reading Gay guys fantastic in depth analysis of Jonah Lomu Rugby and why it's better than other rugby games, I've decided to post the reviews of previous rugby games up here! These were intended to be used on my website, but seeing as it's no longer going to be created (For now anyway), you may as well read them up here! Please note, the NRL review was written by JJ! Cheers JONAH LOMU RUGBY INFO Formats: Playstation, PC Release Year: 1997 Developer: Rage Publisher: Codemasters Website: www.codemasters.co.uk Regarded by many as the finest rugby game ever, Jonah Lomu Rugby was released by Codemasters, with very little hype, in 1997. First impressions werenâ€™t too good. The graphics were quite poor, there was a distinct lack of teams and stadiums. Coupled with the fact that there were a whole host of features missing from the game of rugby, such as knock ons, forward passes, injuries and substitutions, JLR seemed destined to fail! It did, however, have one saving graceâ€¦. Gameplay! Initially hard to get to grips with, JLR soon turned out to be pure quality when you finally did suss out the controls. Once you got used to them, playing the game became second nature! Even now, after months of not playing the game, I could easily put JLR on and feel right at home! All the moves youâ€™d expect from a Rugby game are in JLR. Passes, cut-out passes, offloads, punts, bombs, drop goals, grubber kicks, smother tackles, diving tackles, side-steps, hand-offs etc. These are all exceptionally well implemented, giving the game a slick, responsive feel! You felt in control at ALL times, and this is absolutely crucial in a Rugby game! The best example of this is when the attacking team are camped on your try line, attacking time and time again. The fact that itâ€™s your skill that keeps them from scoring is superb. If they do score, you know itâ€™s your fault and not the computers like many games! The one player game consisted of many modes to satisfy the single player! There was the standard World Cup, and friendly mode, along with the tri-nations, five nations (as it was then) and others! Also, there was a superb â€œClassic Matchâ€ section where you had to change history by being placed in various World cup games etc, at certain points! Beating all the tournaments unlocked another tournament featuring the British Lions, Barbarians and a World XV! Winning that tournament unlocked a final tournament featuring Team Lomu (A team of 15 Lomuâ€™sâ€¦erk!), Codemasters and Rage. Itâ€™s worth noting that the Rage team in particular had some memorable players. Such as Big Steve Williams, (Or was it Trevor????) - he was at least twice the size of other players - at Full back, the Big kicking McCabe, who could kick goals from way over the half way line, and of course, the little fast blighter â€“ Mather! Ask any JLR fans who â€œMatherâ€ is and I bet they know! The downside to unlocking these teams, was the fact that you couldnâ€™t use them in single player or multi-player mode. A crying shame, cos they were such a laugh to use, and it wouldâ€™ve been nice to see 1 inch tall Mather handing off the whole All Black team before sprinting in for ten tries! No matter how good the Single player game was, there was nothing, and, in my opinion, thereâ€™s still nothing that comes close to the sheer fun of Multi-player JLR! Iâ€™ve honestly wasted months, no, Years of my life playing JLR with my Dad, brother and all my mates! It was sheer class! In fact, for nearly 2 years, JLR didnâ€™t come out of my Playstation. I mean that truthfully too! Up to four players can play in any one match, but personally, I thought the 4 player mode was a bit too fiddly. 2 player games were a completely different story though! The banter between the players that this game caused was well worth the price of the game alone! SUMMARY Despite itâ€™s short coming, and the fact that this game is now over 7 years old, JLR is still way better than the other rugby titles out there! Some of you may disagree, but considering that this game had bad graphics, hardly any teams or stadiums, no knock ons or forward passes etc, itâ€™s amazing just how playable it is! The commentary from Bill McLaren and Bill Beaumont was well executed and, at times, very funny! The frustration factor is kept low, unlike other Rugby games I can mention (Rugby 2004 anyone?), and this is one of the factors that make the game truly, truly great! Unbeatable EA RUGBY 2001 INFO Formats:, PC, Playstation 2 Release Year: 2001 Developer: Creative Assembly Publisher: EA SPORTS After a long absence from the videogame scene, Rugby Union made its way back courtesy of EASPORTS in the form of RUGBY 2001. It was released on PC first, with a PS2 port (Simply entitled â€œRUGBYâ€), following a few months later! For the purpose of this review, Iâ€™ll stick to the PS2 version. After playing Jonah Lomu Rugby to death, the first thing you noticed when you loaded up Rugby was the graphics! They featured big, bold players and excellent Stadiums, and the whole thing seemed to bring the Rugby world to life on the PS2! However, some of the animations were way below par, especially when the players were running! They looked like something out of The Benny Hill Show, running awkwardly with very bandy legs! That aside, graphically it was a good start. Converting (no pun intended) the complicated sport of Rugby into a videogame was always going to be a tough task! Lomu managed to capture the spirit of the game, but left out certain features like knock ons, forward passes etc, to keep the game flowing! EA, however, had other ideas, and left these elements in! Rucking in RUGBY 2001 was hit and miss. You had to push a button to get the men into the ruck, push one direction to push, and push another direction to dig. All the time you had to keep an eye on the energy meters above each teams pack! It could be very frustrating, and felt extremely random as to whether you won or lost the ruck! Scrummaging was very similar and had a bug in the PS2 version! If you were putting the ball into the scrum, you simply had to hold â€œTriangleâ€ and you won the scrum everyâ€¦singleâ€¦time! Very annoying for the other player! However, you had the choice of picking a set play before every ruck and scrum, and this was a pretty good idea! Open play in RUGBY 2001 was also a case of hit and miss! When you had the ball in hand, you could pass fluidly, (including a huge miss-pass by tapping the pass button three times), and kick the ball in various ways adequately, but the treacly slow hand off (Which sometimes worked, and sometimes didnâ€™t), and non-existant side step ruined it somewhat! You could also throw a dummy by tapping one pass button then the other very quickly! However, this really was just for show as it never had any real effect on the game! As for the defensive play, it was, to be honest, pretty dire! The AI defenders would chase the ball carrier instead of forming a defensive line and the responsiveness of the tackle button was laughable! It felt as if hours passed between pushing the button and the player making the tackle! Not a good start! To make things worse, if you were chasing the ball carrier and you pushed the tackle button, nine times out of 10 the tackler would dive over 30 yards to ankle tap the player! Weird, annoying and very unrealistic! Not only that, the defensive line would often stand 10 yards BEHIND the tryline and bunch up together, when the opposition were taking a 5 meter scrum or quick tap! All they had to do was pass the ball and they scored, through no fault of your own. It made you feel cheated and ruined the game quite a bit! SUMMARY After reading my review, youâ€™d probably think that EA RUGBY 2001 was the worst game in the world. It isnâ€™t! All the faults in the game evened themselves out when playing against a mate instead of the AI, and the constant bickering between the two players over the gameâ€™s faults made it much more fun to play than it shouldâ€™ve been! Also, in the PC version there was a fantastic replay option, that allowed you to save all the best tries youâ€™d scored etc. Unfortunately, this replay feature was watered down in the PS2 version, you could watch the action at any time, but you couldnâ€™t save it! All in all, it was a decent effort for a Rugby game, and if Lomu hadnâ€™t have been around, despite all itâ€™s faults, this wouldâ€™ve been played a hell of a lot more! Satisfactoryâ€¦But couldâ€™ve tried harder! EA RUGBY 2004 INFO Formats:, PC, Playstation 2 Release Year: 2003 Developer: HB Studios Publisher: EA SPORTS EA RUGBY 2004 was probably the most hyped up, eagerly awaited Rugby game of all time! With promises of More teams, More moves, More Stadiums, Team and Player editor etc, and to fix all that was wrong with RUGBY 2001 and make it much more playable!, HB Studios had a real job on their hands! Did they deliver? Well, yesâ€¦â€¦ and no! Ok letâ€™s get the checklist out, Firstly, More Teams? Yes, they did that, adding Super 12 and domestic UK teams, as well as adding much more international teams! More Moves? Yes, they added the much needed sidestep, more set plays, more options at the ruck etc. More Stadiums? Yes, without a doubt. There were around 65 stadiums in RUGBY 2004! Team & Player editing? Yes, although not quite as flexible as we expected, they were there! Fix Everything and make it more playable! Ermâ€¦(looks around, sheepishly)â€¦ NO! â€œOkay, thereâ€™s something wrong here,â€ says the EA rep. â€œYouâ€™ve done a great job with the stadiums and teams etc, but what the hell have you done with the gameplay?â€ There was no response from the HB spokesman. â€œNot only that,â€ Mr EA continued, â€œHow the hell have you made the damn thing look and sound so bloody awful?â€ he spat! â€œWell, we didnâ€™t have enough time to put all of this stuff in, so we left out a few bits including graphics and gameplay.â€ said Mr HB. After a long pause, Mr EA looked at him and smiled, â€œNot to worry eh, those rugby fans canâ€™t wait to get there hands on this. The hype is through the roof for this one. Letâ€™s just get it duplicated, boxed-up and sent to the stores, then we can sit back and watch the money roll in!â€ scoffed Mr EA. How HB Studios messed this up so badly is anyoneâ€™s guess! EA have to take the blame too, for letting this get past the QC section. Yes, thereâ€™s more to this game than the previous version, but that counts for nothing if the gameplay isnâ€™t there! In open play, attacking is, at best, flawed! First off, the automatic rucks pretty much cripple the game from the start. If you play against a much tougher team, itâ€™s very likely that youâ€™ll be starved of the ball for long, long periods of time. Not only that, when you finally do get your hands on the ball, you can bet your life that youâ€™ll lose it during the next ruck! Passing is unresponsive too, taking an age while the player goes through his passing animation before the ball is released. Giving the player different options to choose at a ruck is a good idea, but the way itâ€™s implemented here renders it redundant! Why pass the ball to a forward running up behind the ruck, or pass it wide, when simply picking the ball up and running left or right before passing out to the wing pretty much results in a try every time? As for kicking in general play, forget it! If you punt the ball itâ€™ll bounce unrealistically all over the field, putting up a bomb results in you guessing where the ball is going to land because you canâ€™t see it while itâ€™s in the air, and grubber kicks are way too tricky to get right. The defensive side of the game is just as bad! In order to tackle the ball carrier, you just run into them without pushing a button! You can dive tackle using the tackle button, but more often than not youâ€™ll miss the player and end up floundering about on the floor. Ok, if â€œBelow Parâ€ is a phrase weâ€™d use for the gameplay, then â€œabsolute garbageâ€ is the phrase weâ€™d use for the graphics! The players are badly drawn and have heads that seem way to big for their odd-shaped bodies. Each player has, more or less, got the same facial features and they all walk around as if theyâ€™ve got severe stomach cramps! The animations on the players is, to be polite, shocking! There must be one single frame of animation for the transition between run and sprint! The way the players hold the ball in one hand when sprinting is a joke! Itâ€™s as if the ball has a carrying handle on it, or it could just be super-glued to the players palm! Sound wise, itâ€™s a mixed bag! There are plenty of beefy sound effects, but the God awful commentary is far too prominent. The way the commentator says his phrases is ridiculous. You can tell that itâ€™s been edited together, and for the most part, sounds very bad! SUMMARY Oh dear me, what a letdown RUGBY 2004 was! After all the hype and promises, we were left with a sub standard game with bad graphics! EA promised to fix what was wrong with 2001, and make 2004 the game to own. All EA ended up doing were adding more problems, and making the franchise far, far worse than it shouldâ€™ve been! There were a number of decent features in there, like the set plays etc. But these were so badly excecuted that theyâ€™re not worth mentioning! Very disappointing! Well below par in every way. SUPERLEAGUE RUGBY LEAGUE aka NRL RUGBY LEAGUE (Australia) and STACEY JONES RUGBY LEAGUE (New Zealand) INFO Formats: PC, PS2, XBox Release Year: 2003 Developer: Sidhe Interactive Publisher: HES (Australia & New Zealand), Alternative Software (UK and Europe) Official Website: http://www.trublu.com.au/ In 2002 gamers got their first taste of a league game since ARL '96 with a demo of Rugby League. It was average at best. Over a year later, a much, much better game emerged from good old New Zealand. Rugby Union is my favourite sport by quite a bit. But Sidhe's Rugby League has been my favourite rugby game since Jonah Lomu Rugby. Rugby League hit Rugby 2004 out of ball park and over the stands never to be seen again! The first thing you notice about any game is it's graphics. As you can see on the right, while Rugby League's aren't quite up there with the likes of Madden, they are some of the nicest in a rugby game. Close up views allow you to identify players by their head, and the details of the players kits are easily the best at the moment. Stadiums look magnificent, and there is a good amount of them too, including virtually every NRL stadium used in 2003. The Super League wasn't so lucky, 5 made it into the finished product. Another thing you could notice straight away was the varying crowd attendance, it may have been a minor detail but I liked it a lot. Anyway, enough of this eye candy, let's get on to thing that really matters, the gameplay. When you start playing on the lower difficulties the controls are listed at the bottom of the screen, making it a great game to pick up and play. This was one of the reasons I would put Rugby League in the PS2 when I played with friends, this way I could just sit back and not worry about answering questions about how to do something or get blamed when they lost because I didn't tell them how to do a certain move that would have won the game for them. The running play is excellent. Side steps work! Dummy's work! Fends work! Steam rolling opponents works!! It was actually kind of weird, no rugby game had actually made these moves work since Jonah Lomu Rugby. The ball-in-hand play is just so fun. One of the problems about running play is that when you are in the in-goal, you couldn't let any opposition near you or they would probably hold you up, which was quite bizarre. The kicking game is good, although the goal kicking can easily be improved. The in game kicking system was given a "Matrix" feel to it, which slows time down, gives you a lower angle, and allows you to adjust the power and angle of the kick. A great idea, but I sometimes felt it was a little weird, maybe that was just me. I often found myself kicking 40-20s with props, and other times the player would keep turning so I couldn't get a kick away as the arrow was re aiming itself. I have a brilliant and reasonably simple way of solving this problem, but I won't bore you with the details here. Grubbers are ok, but their effectiveness is pretty low, especially when compared to World Championship Rugby. Bombs are also ok, but I sometimes felt they were a little random as to who won the ball when they came down, and you couldn't do a lot with the ball once you'd won it from a bomb, as you'd be wrapped up fairly quickly. The defensive side of the game is ok, but sometimes a little easy and sometimes a little hard, even when on the same difficulty setting. For example, my players committing head highs without my control, and sometimes committing head high tackles with my control when I'm making a tackle from right in front, it just doesn't look right. The easy part of it is wrapping the ball up on the last tackle, or the AI making weak kicks on the last. That's the negative side of the defense. The positive side is the superb animation of the tackles, and the satisfaction of dragging the opposition across the touchline. The range of tournaments of the game is ok, but would have been greatly increased by a franchise mode, or even just having a little more input in the season mode, as sometimes it feels like you're playing friendly after friendly, as injuries aren't lasting and there are no other problems like that. Rugby League does have the best editor I have seen in a rugby game though, allowing you to create players, teams and even tournaments. Finally, I'd just like to comment about the developers. Throughout the production of this game, Mario (the Managing Director of Sidhe) kept in touch with the fans, listening and taking ideas. This sort of attitude was a shock from the "We won't even respond to your emails, at all, ever" attitude of EA. Of course, this isn't totally unique now, with the Swordfish team (WCR creators) and Digital Jesters team (PRM publishers) both in contact with the fans, but I think it was worth mentioning anyway. SUMMARY What can I say? I like union a lot more than league, yet I like this game more than any other union game made since Jonah Lomu Rugby. Surely that's saying something! The game is not perfect, but it is a solid game. Top stuff, now to continue on persuading Sidhe to make a union game! WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP RUGBY INFO Formats: Playstation 2, Xbox & PC Release Year: 2004 Developer: Swordfish Studios Publisher: Acclaim Website: www.worldchampionshiprugby.com Imagine, if you will, that youâ€™ve just bought yourself a brand spanking new, shiny red Enzo ferrari! It looks stunning!!! Everything youâ€™d hoped and wished for, here right in front of your eyes! You admire it for a while, beaming from ear to ear. You lift up the bonnet, and there, to your surprise, is a BMW engine! Not a bad thing by any means, but itâ€™s not what you expected! This analogy, in my opinion, perfectly sums up World Championship Rugby! Developers Swordfish Studios turned the rugby gaming community on its head by announcing that they were making a sequel (sort of) to Jonah Lomu Rugby! 7 long years weâ€™d waited for it, and finally, it was on its way! The first thing you notice when you load up WCR is just how quick the games load. Honestly, once youâ€™ve chosen your teams and pressed start, itâ€™s no more than 5 seconds before youâ€™re playing! A good start! Then you notice the graphics. Theyâ€™re big, bold and colourful, but very cartoony in style! This didnâ€™t bother me, but the cartoon style may have put off those players who were striving for realism. Also, the animation is generally superb throughout. The sprinting, tackling, rucking, passing, kicking etc were all brilliantly animated. The only suspect animation in my book was the way the players jogged along when the sprint button wasnâ€™t being pushed! Once again though, nothing too bad. After my first couple of games on WCR, I was ecstatic. The gameplay was smooth and quick, and the passing was just out of this world! Bullet passes were regularly seen throughout my matches, and each one brought a smile to my face! The game was very responsive too. As soon as a button was pushed, the action occurred instantaneously. Then, after around an hours play, I started to notice things that I didnâ€™t like. Little niggly things were happening all too frequently. The first thing about the game that disappointed me was the commentary! The two Muppets commentating on this game were the most boring people Iâ€™d heard this side of Rugby 2004! I was enjoying the game for the first few goes and didnâ€™t notice them, but when I started to find faults, I could hear their droning voices more and more and it irritated me! The next annoying problem was the rucking! They felt totally random at times, and spoiled the flow a bit. After that came the mauls, after continuous play, my finger was absolutely battered from pushing the bloody button all the time. I wouldnâ€™t have minded, but most of the time it got me nowhere! I just couldnâ€™t seem to force a turnover during a maul! But the worst thing I found was the defending. The defensive AI is not up to scratch to say the least! None of your team mates make a tackle, leaving you to physically change player to make every tackle! The back line never moves up right, or slides across. It was chaos! The â€œBig Hitâ€ tackle forced the player to drop the ball everyâ€¦singleâ€¦time!!! You had to use it wisely because you could easily give away penalties (And usually did), by tackling the man without the ball. Although that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. However, if the opposition had the ball all the time, you had to rely on the big hit a bit too much to get some possession, as starting a maul was a useless way to try and get the ball back! After reading this review, youâ€™d probably think that I didnâ€™t enjoy World Championship Rugby, and youâ€™d be wrong! I enjoyed it quite a bit, and in multi-player, the game was more fun! However, World Championship Rugby is a game which is best played in short 20 minute bursts, any more than that and the annoying flaws will start to irritate you very quickly. SUMMARY World Championship Rugby was a game that came from nowhere! Seeing as it was made by most of the development team responsible for the awesome Jonah Lomu Rugby, expectations were very high. The end product is something which delights and annoys in equal measures! We hoped that WCR would take Lomuâ€™s rugby gaming crownâ€¦. But it didnâ€™t, and letâ€™s face it, I donâ€™t think anything ever will! An unrealistic but fun rugby videogame! Best played in short bursts! Let's have your comments below! It'd be interesting to see how many agree with my point of view on those games, and JJ's point of view on NRL!