Rugby Challenge 2006 > You

Discussion in 'Rugby Video Games & Apps' started by St Helens RLFC, Nov 14, 2005.

  1. I hate rugby union.

    But not once, not even at 7:30am when my alarm woke me up, did I think I was mad for going to Birmingham to play a rugby union game. Because I played World Championship Rugby, and I found it really enjoyable. If Swordfish had done their homework, they could make the best rugby game out there.

    And guess what, they have.

    Rugby Challenge 2006 is one of the most enjoyable games I’ve ever played. It is just raw fun. I, along with Boy (Andy), were sat down in front of an enormous television (probably the best television I’ve ever seen!), and given a controller each. Already on the massive screen, the game was playing in demo mode, and right away I spotted the authentic Saracens kit, though I didn’t notice who they were playing.

    I left it a while, keeping a close eye on it, and I was staggered at just how realistic a lineout looked. The barrel chested hooker launched the ball to the back of the lineout, where it was flicked backwards and the kick was hit downfield, very realistic.

    After a quick pep talk from Ian (the man who deserves all your praise for the brilliance of Brian Lara International Cricket), off we went. The menu instantly gives off the impression that there is much to do in this game. And it isn’t an impression that’s wrong, though I will go into that later.

    We started off with a friendly match, with Bath playing Saracens. This game is pleasantly up to date. Considering the actual game has been nigh on complete for some time, the effort taken by Swordfish to keep the game as up to date as possible is extremely commendable. A player signed by Bath at the end of the September (I won’t pretend I know who he is) is in the game. Big raps to Swordfish for that – it is ultimately more important to tweak gameplay than update teams, but they’ve made the effort to do both.

    So, with my hatred of Jason Robinson too much to be able to select Sale, I turned my attention to the less-prolific-against-St Helens Andy Farrell in Saracens. Well, he wasn’t in the starting XV, but whoever the starting outside centre was didn’t last too long! The players were soon lining up, looking accurate with correct kits (minus any alcohol brands). I could recognise some faces, the game looks excellent.

    As do the stadiums and the pitch. The crowds are as realistic looking as you could wish for (let’s face it – not important is it?) and do vary in size from one game to another. The pitch looks fantastic too. We kicked off, and I drove the ball in hard. CRUNCH! The noise effects are superb – just like the Jonah Lomu Rugby of old times. You don’t immediately notice the commentary, but it’s there and it’s fine. It is just right – not too much, not too little.

    So, the ball is on the floor, and rather clumsily, I pile people in at this huge mess. A coloured circle around my scrum half tells me that I have won the ball, and so I fling the ball right. I agree with Boy that on occasion the passing animation from the base of a scrum/ruck/maul can be a bit clumsy, but again, that really isn’t important when all said and done, the ball heads where you tell it to. The ball does sometimes go to ground though, depending on how much distance you want on the pass. I decide to move the ball quickly, and double tap R1, missing out a man and enabling me to take it out wide. Quickly, I bring one of my forwards into the game, and I knock one of the backs staggering backwards as I brush him off, without using the fend button.

    It is very noticeable that there is a strength difference in this game. Forwards can easily shrug off backs. That’s not to say that backs can’t tackle forwards though; I found the best way to combat the strength problem was to let them go slightly past before making a tackle. There are lots of different tackle animations, and the one most effective against strength is a tackle from slightly behind as it goes for the leg, and as my uncle has always said to me: “You can’t go anywhere without your legs.â€

    As I continued to move the ball about to test the passing, I embarked on a long spell of possession, driving the ball forward towards Boy’s sticks, but I couldn’t break through. Then, a maul developed, and I stared at the screen, puzzled. There were 2 oval shapes above our respective teams; with I’d say about 1/8th of it shaded a colour. A white dot was revolving around the oval. Ah ha, I thought, I get this idea. The idea is to stop the dot in the middle of the coloured bit, and this moves your maul forward. On the flip side, the defending team has to try and stop the push as much as possible!

    This is a very good system, it doesn’t involve a great deal of button bashing, nor does it tax the brain and it’s just very accessible. It doesn’t slow the game down and if you use it right you can make mega yards. It takes Boy a few second to suss it out, but when he does he manages to slow me right down, and the ball finds its way to the scrum half and off I go again, looking to exploit space down the wing.

    No matter how much I huffed and puffed, I couldn’t put the ball down over the line. And I spent the latter stages of the first half defending my own line, cowardly running the ball into touch to stop my winger being isolated after turning the ball over.

    And so, the half time whistle blew, giving myself a chance to have a think about what I’d seen so far. It was sheer fun, although I’d had no chance to score yet. There is a bit of half time review, including the legendary “fancy a pie?†comment, although to be honest, we were so keen to continue with the game we just got on with it.

    I kicked off for the second half, with a traditional, deep rugby league kick off. Body met body, and a tremendous hit saw the Bath player tumble to the ground. It looked like a spear tackle, but it was perfectly legal.

    “Spear tackle!†I cried, jokingly.

    “Not a chance†said Boy. “Teams in black don’t get punished for spear tackles.â€

    From this kick off, Bath controlled the game, slowly and steadily making yards, before there was a sudden break about 30 yards out. I missed a simple tackle, and all of a sudden my winger was left 2 on 1 and the pass was timed perfectly for an easy score. The winger jumped up, throwing the ball to the floor before being mobbed by his team mates. We also spotted some badge thumping. (Any chance the guys at Swordfish could go back and put the EASY! EASY! EASY! celebration in? [​IMG])

    I knew I was up against it from this moment on, even though the kick drifted wide. The kicking system has had a makeover, and I like it a lot. Pick your direction (accounting for, if applicable, wind), pick the power you’d like, and then get the place on the sliding bar correct. Sounds like a hassle, but it really isn’t. Get it wrong though, and you will, as the commentators like to joke “endanger the crowd.†On the other hand, give it a good thump and you get a camera angle directly behind the successful kick as it sails over. Brilliant!

    With time running out I decided to adopt a more adventurous approach, getting the ball to my wingers and backing myself to outpace Boy’s. However, I never really looked like getting the breakthrough needed, although I knocked on the door a few times. On one occasion, I wanted to go from the base of the ruck and run cross field but I pressed triangle and as I was quite close to the line, booted the ball straight into the crowd.

    With time running out I sadly succumbed to a second try, which ended the game although the kick was unsuccessful. With a game of experience under our belt we decided to take the step up to the international level, and England (complete with Charlie Hodgson at fly half) under the stewardship of Boy, clashed horns with Australia. A good idea; with the autumn international match the day after.

    The time though, I hit top form, and absolutely pulverised Boy, running over 5 tries and converting 4 of them in a 33-5 victory. The pace of the Australian wingers caused Boy a lot of trouble, and I managed to sneak a few forwards’ tries as well, just by running at an angle. It is easier to get the ball out wide, but that wouldn’t be a challenge would it? This time my attempts to kick and run onto the ball were a bit more successful, a bold move on my own 22 seeing me get down to the England 22, although it came to nothing. During this game however, we REALLY got to grips with the sidestep button, the range of moves you can pull off are exceptional. A winger dances and jinks, a forward tries to make himself as small as possible. Imagine my delight when my forward stepped past a player, and offloaded perfectly to put a back through a gap to make a 35 yard break.

    After one win each, we decided to align forces and played on the same team (England) against a poor team, so we picked some random Italian team. But the AI defence was very impressive and the expected thrashing never materialised. In fact we spent a lot of time on the back foot although the ball was turned over frequently. I can’t remember the score but it was far from a cricket one, we found it hard to exploit gaps although we were trying new things like hand offs.

    After this, we though we’d have a look at the career mode. You can choose your team name, you can choose your team badge and you can choose your team kits. Very thorough. And then, the squad is brilliant. And that’s because I play at number 3, loose head prop. Freak bit of luck, further freakier by the fact that Boy’s brother Robbinho was at number 8. You’re all in there somewhere; you just need to play the career mode a lot to see. You have a small amount of cash as you start; the idea is to go along save up and buy better players.

    You also have to make the players you have better. You can choose a training session you want to have before a game (you do have to have one though, and each session takes $25 from your kitty.) I played Bristol in my first game, and I was 5-0 up early on after I set the platform with a blockbusting run. I only played the first half of this game, but I felt I could score if I turned it up a few gears.

    I did mention this to Ian later, who was happy to admit that the career mode wasn’t too difficult. He was anxious it wasn’t as absurdly difficult as Rugby 04/05’s career mode, which can take three seasons before you can afford to buy one player.

    Boy played the second half, and although he didn’t add to the scoreline, dictated play. We then cast our eye over the unlockable content. I won’t spoil them, but they are fiendishly difficult, are some of them. In fact, I am smiling thinking at how hard you’re going to find a couple of them. You won’t be beating Rugby Challenge 2006 overnight. There is a lot of gear to unlock; you’ll all be pleasantly surprised.

    We decided to have one more match as I brought the All Blacks to the fray. I lost out 8-5 to, of all things, a Steve Thompson drop goal. We’d been trying drop goals all day – it amused me that a hooker kicked a winning drop goal. I absolutely pounded, hammered, battered the England line for the last half an hour of the match, but they hung on. I looked set to crash in at the corner on two occasions, but on both occasions I was thwarted by fantastic wing play in defence. With the crowd baying for the whistle, I knocked on and the game was won.

    That game summed up what RC06 is about for me. Fun, fun, fun.

    If you’re looking for an arcade experience, look no further. If you’re looking for simulation, still look no further. If you’re looking for fun, look no further. This is an excellent game produced by an honest, upfront and dedicated team that listen to both fans and critics. I was very sad to learn that this is probably Swordfish’s last sports game. I do hope Vivendi allow them to do what they do best, but Trev and Ian seem resigned to the fact.

    Let’s hope they see sense, eh?

    I would like to thank Trev and Ian once again for this visit, and I hope you all will too. They have done this for the good of TRF, which they have also been kind enough to host whilst this game has been on going. And I have written this for the good of TRF.

    This is an excellent game.
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  3. sean43

    sean43 Guest

    Great review, thanks very much. Did you get any news on a release?
  4. They aren't fundamentally sure. Swordfish have more or less done their bit now.
  5. cavan

    cavan Guest

    Good stuff man, sounds like a fun game.
  6. jimmy44

    jimmy44 Guest

    Great review thanks for putting this together for us - just one question. what is the AI like? Do the games flow well in single player like multiplayer or is it similar to rugby 2005 i.e single player sucks!
  7. toup

    toup Guest

    Good review, just one thing I woul like clarified... when you say you choose badge and kit in career mode - do you design the kit or do you pick an existing one? Sounds very impressive though, thanks for a very in-depth report!
  8. Flamingo

    Flamingo Guest

    Quality review, you are gifted with the keyboard
  9. loratadine

    loratadine Guest

    top review, and i do hope we see ian and trev continue making sports games, as ive always enjoyed there sports games, very user freindly and you can tell the game has been made by proper fans of the game, and not just by an out of touch money spinning corporation.
  10. The AI seems to be quite smart. I never really had the chance to blast it, only the joint game I played, but the AI was standing tall and was difficult to beat, and that was on the medium level.
  11. jimmy44

    jimmy44 Guest

    Sounds good thnx
  12. loratadine

    loratadine Guest

    what are the ratings out of, how are they done

    stars? what are they out of? 5? 10? 100?
  13. RugbyForever

    RugbyForever Guest

    Great review, thanks for putting it together.
  14. Nice one, Saints!
    (Calling you Jamie don't seem right)
  15. harrison2468

    harrison2468 Guest

    Great review, very informative, thanks SH, Boy and also Swordfish, and their guys for making it possible for us to know so much. [​IMG]
  16. You were suprised? [​IMG]

    Seriously, great review. Can't wait to play as the Saints, replete with correct squad and kit.

    Sounds like they've created a good balance between realism and fun, definately one to get by the sound of things.
  17. Nice review. How good is that game [​IMG]
  18. gjohn85

    gjohn85 Guest

    If the game is as good as your review I will never stop playing it. Great stuff Jamie, top man!
  19. yeah hard for some [​IMG]

    yeah what about the uniforms and such. i can settle for generic logos (ie madden) but im not going to be the happiest chap if the uniforms are rugbyleage styles...
  20. I cannot wait, I still wan't to know if you can use existing kits and badges for your career team as I would love to play a career as Northampton......... of course.

    Sounds very exciting, made it harder for me to forget it. So when the release comes along, it will be magic.....well....hopefully.

    Thanks, great review.
  21. ..::ERIC::..

    ..::ERIC::.. Guest

    I take it by your Farrel coment you can't select the starting lineup but only make substitutions?

    Great review anyhow, thanks.
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