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Rugby League Live 2 Review


The Dorset Drinker
TRF Legend
Jan 27, 2004
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After a two year break, Big Ant Studios bring rugby League back to the XBox 360 and the Playstation 3 as Rugby League Live 2 explodes onto our machines in the UK on the 30th November courtesy of Alternative Software.

Already released in Australia to much acclaim, RLL2 has done everything that we asked as gamers in the two year period since the release of the original ***le. Graphically the improvement is there for all to see. It's not perfect and I don't think the required effort has gone into making Super League players look as realistic as they should be, but that is a minor quibble and ultimately the studio is an Australian one. The stadiums look excellent and menus are polished and refined. It's a good looking game. It looks very Rugby Challenge like in terms of its polish. It has taken the best bits of all recent rugby ***les of both codes and pieced them all together.

The commentary has had a revamp too, and after a decade of the dulcet tones of Andrew Voss, big mouthed compatriot Phil Gould makes his Rugby League Live debut dishing out his typical close to the bone derision next to good old Vossy. Whatever you do, don't throw an interception, lest you be told you got exactly what you deserved!

You have a raft of teams to select from, Super League and NRL teams are a given, you also get a limited selection of international teams, Championship 1 and 2 clubs for lower league fans and Toyota Cup teams and appropriate squads. You also get a full set of representative squads from the might of State of Origin to the let down of England vs. Exiles. It's very comprehensive and Big Ant, HES and Alternative deserve a lot of credit for getting the licensing sorted.

There is an extensive editing suite where you can create a player and a team to your heart's content should you so wish to do so.

There is a dedicated tutorial session to allow you to learn the nuances of the game - fending, shoulder charges etc are now performed via the right stick. The step is a particularly beautiful thing if you time it correctly and sit your would be tackler on their backside.

The biggest criticism of the first game was lack of modes. Not unreasonable. Big Ant have addressed this forthwith by creating a ten year franchise mode. I only played bits and pieces of it but you can choose what sponsors you want and how you want to spend revenue gained in terms of coaching and fitness. I haven't seen the transfer system but I'm told it works well and allows you to tinker and change your squad annually, at the end of a season. Can you juggle the wages of your existing stars and any newcomers? Going bust means game over. From what I played, it looks a good detailed mode that will provide you with hours of fun. One issue I did notice is that simulating games led to some frankly bizarre results and occasional rafts of weeklong injuries but I fail to see the point of simulating games anyhow.

But those are mere cosmetics and features - what of the gameplay? The meat and bones of Rugby League Live for me were tantalisingly close to brilliance. That's not a view shared by many people, but one I stand by having played it recently in order to re-familiarise myself with the way the ***le works. If you learned to get around the issues the game had (for example at the play of the ball) then you could have some fantastic games of rugby. In RLL2, kits and squads are up to date for 2012 but a patch will be required in 2013 for new kits and the inevitable raft of transfers. Particularly in Australia with the new salary cap rules.

I am delighted to say that everything has improved. That's not to say it's perfect as it isn't, but in my view, this is the finest game that has been produced on the consoles across both codes at the moment. The standard has increased year on year (with the only backward step being Rugby League 2 in 2005) but both Big Ant and Sidhe have produced very good games, but the former have really upped the ante with this outing.

Here's why - if you play it properly, RLL2 has that distinct feeling of quality games of rugby league. I have played 10 games or so with ten minute halves against the AI, and some of the games were unbelievably close. I took my beloved St Helens on the road for a game against local rivals Warrington for my first match (keen to get some revenge for a real life result) and my trip to the Halliwell Jones Stadium was eventful to say the least.

I got absolutely battered for the first 20 minutes of the game. Receiving the kick off ,I got myself up to half way after three tackles only to be too ambitious and throw an interception. The cut out passes work out well and if you time it right, a perfectly timed press of the LT/L1 button depending on your console of choice will send you racing through a gap. Get it wrong however, and you're going to throw an interception.

It makes me bite my lip in frustration but more often than not, interceptions are your fault and your fault alone. Occasionally that isn't the case and the opposition will come up with a miracle catch and off they go. But it's usually your own doing. And occasionally passes will bounce along the floor, which happens in real life which sets you on the back foot. It's your natural reaction to sling passes around to try and regain lost ground. Don't do it - the opposition squeeze up and you'll hand it over.

But back to the match. I got caught out on a few occasions with cut out passes and found myself 12-0 down inside of ten minutes. But then the brilliance of the game takes over. After I foiled a Warrington breakaway with a last ditch tackle from Paul Wellens that put Joel Monoghan into touch just a few metres to spare, I got back into the game. Having being starved of the ball by continually conceding tries, I managed to haul myself back into the match by kicking a superb 40/20. It's not easy to do it, but I had the wind in my favour and I kicked it to perfection.

Kicking has changed a great deal. The Matrix bullet time effect has gone to be replaced by a deep last tackle kick. Initially I was hostile to this and in a way I still am - you get plenty of time to kick the ball clear but from a defence point of view it's impossible for the markers to close the kicker down if it's the last tackle. In reality it's no different from a last tackle kick bullet time style as it was almost impossible to close down then too, but that split second delay does make you feel a little out of control. You can of course kick on any tackle but expect the unexpected on that front.

Kicking is an important part of this game as you seek to wear down the opposition. Especially against the better teams. You may steamroller poorer teams like Salford or London but you won't do that against Wigan, Warrington, Leeds etc. You need some craft to get past them. There are some issues. Whenever the AI puts a bomb up, it feels like I have no control over the situation. That may be just me but I didn't win one contested ball and was outjumped and therefore conceded every time. You can tap the ball behind and I did this a few times.

I enjoyed using grubber kicks but there is a huge issue here - if you dab a kick through and it hits a player of your own stood in front of you, a penalty is given against you. This can happen all too easily and needs patching. Not least because that should be accidental offside and therefore a scrum, not a penalty. It's infuriating to give a penalty away on the 5th tackle under the opposition sticks when you're putting them under intense pressure - especially if you're in the closing stages of a tight game. It's infuriating but it can be fixed. It also doesn't happen ALL the time, but it does happen. If it was still a slow mo kick you could avoid your own players but this is much harder in real time. And pinning the opposition in their own goal area is a massive boost to the way you play and it feels very rewarding. I scored a few tries this way. I also got caught out a few times, but was able to dive on the loose ball before my less illustrious rivals.

Back yet again to the game, I was rewarded for a concerted period of pressure by Tommy Makinson stepping the Chris Riley and going in at the corner. Goal kicking is unchanged and I nailed it off the touchline, gathering an achievement in the process. I spent much of the half in the Warrington half but wasn't able to score again, my powerplay attempts falling just short.

The second half was a scrambling affair as I launched an all out assault against Warrington, coming level with a great flowing move that stemmed from an offload as Perry sent the supporting Roby through a gap under the sticks, which I duly converted. I seemed all set to maintain my roll on and go and win the game.

However, Lee Briers had other ideas as his swirling 40/20 brought Warrington onto the front foot after 70 minutes, giving them a great chance to score. This is where the game truly came alive for me. I defended tigerishly for the set, sliding my defence left and right accordingly and compressing it when a Gareth Carvell shunt was stopped inches short of the line on the 4th tackle. Expecting the drop goal I was surprised to see Briers pass to Westwood, who I hit with a shoulder charge. He spilled the ball, and I survived the set. It was as genuinely rewarding as scoring a try. My defence kept me in the game when I thought I was likely looking at going behind. It was a great feeling. It's the most in control I've felt with a defence on a rugby league game. If it's not a blockbusting run from a prop, you need to question why a try has been conceded. More often than not, it's down to you. It's obviously harder to stop tries at close range but it can be done with the right choices at the right time.

With the score deadlocked at 12-12 both myself and the AI were thwarted by excellent defence and the game was a draw. I had fought my way back from 12-0 down to get all the momentum only to run out of time. The game finished a draw as I had Super League rules on. Golden point would have been great fun I'm sure.

Multiplayer is good, you have to adapt your tactics as you won't be able to get past a living, breathing person like you could the AI. I had two frantic SOO matches, both of which I won by 4 points in a gripping, thrilling encounter. Online I don't know, I haven't had a chance to try it out yet.

Above all? I loved every minute I was playing. That's what RLL2 is all about for me. I enjoy playing it. It can be too easy to carry the ball into touch if the ball is close to the line, it can be too easy to get outjumped for a bomb, it can be too easy to hit your own player dabbing the ball through, there are bugs like 90m drop goals and passes launched into touch for no good reason and the age old annoyance of players appearing on the wing when they would never have been there. They're all issues - and they are present, no matter how rare they may be.

But they can be patched and I am sure Big Ant are working on that right now. Overall this is a very impressive game. The biggest compliment I can give it is that I really, really enjoyed playing it and that I wanted to keep on playing the game. "One more match." Matches against big teams in particular can be gripping, dramatic affairs. If you play well. If you don't, you'll get slaughtered. This game isn't forgiving, even on normal. You can hang with the lower teams and get yourself back on the front foot but if you don't turn up against top 4 teams, you're going to get smashed. Personally that's one thing I like a lot. You can ramp the difficulty level up when it suits but it's only going to get harder.

The balance of the game just feels spot on. Both attack and defence are well polished. Learn to play this game properly and you will really enjoy it. I know I'm going to.

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I say, what a rather smashing review of a rather spiffing game. Do I like to play it? Rather!
Just hope they bring out a pc version, otherwise i'm screwed!!!
So glad I pre-ordered mine from Game and it's been dispatched today on Express Delivery.

Great write up also.
Really considering buying this now - wasn't particularly interested until reading this but may have to order it tomorrow.
Doubt my local Game will stock it (not 100% sure it's still there, to be honest, as I've not been since it went belly up), so will have to see which online has it the cheapest/quickest delivery.
Good write up - I've been playing it since release. It's almost everything a Rugby League game should've been 10 years ago.

I've already had classic matches against the AI and friends.

In this case, the bugs aren't that overwhelming you're going to throw away your controller, and i got sick of 'Gus' Gould & Vossy after about the fourth match. (most likely because I hear them all the time)
Looks like I'm gonna have to order this online and struggle financially, or wait for some gig money over xmas and hope supplies last! Very nice review. Certainly flipped my opinion in rushing out to get it! Nice one TRF_Getofmeland :D
Looks like I'm gonna have to order this online and struggle financially, or wait for some gig money over xmas and hope supplies last! Very nice review. Certainly flipped my opinion in rushing out to get it!Nice one TRF_Getofmeland:D

It is well worth it. Not a perfect game by any means, but a serious step in the right direction and enjoyable to play. You must learn how to not throw intercepts though and that does take a little time. Sometimes they still happen anyway and that minority of them are annoying. Still overall it's a massive improvement on any of the current gen rugby or league games.
I'm seriously excited about this ***le now guys. Does anyone know if it's "All regions" as I was thinking of ordering a copy from either the UK or Oz. (It might be available here in NA but I would be surprised)
UK and Aus copies are PAL region locked for Xbox but its region free for PS3
Well I "luckily" came across a copy today (on uk launch day), from Game in Cardiff (retail park by asda). No boxes out the front, but had copies behind (hadn't had time to put them out due to Far Cry 3 and Wii U releases). Really helpful bunch in the store :D

Gonna shower, then give it a whirl before work/DJ'ing tonight. I shall give my 2 cents worth once I deem I have played enough. I'm feeling interception at first attempt of miss 1 :p :p
Completely forgot about this, having said I'm gonna order it :lol:
Going to see if I can find it in store somewhere in a bit.
Well My initial impressions is that I'm pretty poor at this game!!! I've played 6 matches on Rookie, against Extremely poorly rated teams, and I have only won once. Most opposition tries have been scored due to Interceptions, I need to listen more to everyone :p :p

Defending is actually fun for once, and multiple tackles do make it a bit more varied.

Not quite sure what the running lines do, seem to be more effective if I follow them, so I guess that has something to do with it!!!
Hmm might order this one in and get it sent out to me by the parents, since Amazon.de only has Rugby League Live 1 for a whopping €64.00
Managed to get the only copy in the store earlier, can't wait to play it when I get home

Sent from my HTC Incredible S using Tapatalk 2
Keep throwing silly intercept passes, when I was about to score my first try and I was in goal ... managed to kick it away instead of placing it down. Also getting frustrated between switching players using the LT and RT buttons.
Just having a quick go before the Sale game.
Enjoying it so far, but hard to tell what the game's really like as I chose "Amateur" as the difficulty, thinking I'd ease myself in, and I had to actively run towards several tacklers before I got tackled - scored two tries in a row on the first tackle, before giving up and switching, the Salford players were just dropping off the hits :lol:
Order online if you do, it cost me £7 more in store than on the website!

Much better on rookie - still a bit too easy (think I'll start my career in pro), but maybe Catalans are just too damned good.

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