The Average Gamer

Rugby World Cup 2011 Review (360)

I hate to be superficial when it comes to anything but to tell you the truth I could’ve done this review when I saw the cover of the game. As much personality as George Osbourne’s music collection. Making a game around a tournament which has seen the coming together of South Africa, an extra time win by England against Australia with a Wilkinson kick, it seems a harder task to make it as hollow as it is. Rugby-based video games as a rule have been pretty disappointing since the beginning of time, aside from EA’s 08 offering which included backing from big names such as O’Gara, McCaw and Mortlock, a wealth of tournaments to choose from and – most importantly – cracking atmospheric environments and camera positions that made the game so much more enthralling to interact with. 3 years in the past but easily a much more accomplished and well-rounded game than this one.

Rugby World Cup 2011 markets itself as ‘The only Rugby World Cup 2011 game’. It claims to own official licenses for England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and South Africa but all that means is the names of the players and the strips. There are no player identities apart from some are black, some are white, some are bigger, some are smaller. When you begin a match for the first time in the game, you will rest your controller on your lap and take a sip of tea as you get ready to observe the national anthems. You’ll be horribly disappointed.

Your choice of commentary team will confess ‘the home side have a lot of flair’ and then kick-off. You will ‘punt’ using a very dated arrow technique to control the direction and the depth of the kick. After that the game is pretty linear. Your player will catch the ball after the punt and you will sprint down the field as far as a huddle of opposition who will tackle you. No skill is required in winning a tackle. Mere bashing of the same button repeatedly is enough to decide your fate, though it hardly seems like it matters how much or how little you bash that button, you win some you lose some regardless. Paranoia? Maybe.

You can mix things up with chip and chase and this does generally make things look that little bit more realistic and exciting if only for 2 seconds. When you catch and sprint forward away from the opposition, press that button and score a try the camera moves out to your loving fans in the crowd, who appear to be wearing a mix of various colours connected to about 5 or 6 different rugby nations. Some dude in a blue baseball cap, black scarf and red and yellow shirt is going nuts for you out there. The passing controls are a mirror image of you watching the TV screen, which gets a little bit of getting used to. Not being able to create imaginative movement with the ball is slightly suffocating and the placing of your opposition’s defence always appears to be the same no matter who you are playing.

The game modes are Tournament, International Test, Warm-Up Tour and Place-Kick Shootout with an online play. In my opinion the Warm-Up Tour brings nothing to the game, purely because the quality and content of the Tournament mode are exactly the same which is disappointing. There is no change in atmosphere or feeling of grandeur between the two. On a side note, I had expected a lot more involvement from a referee in the game not just a whistle sound. Rugby’s refs are ever-present and well respected men. It would’ve been a nice touch.

I had longed for a game that would prove to gamers and creators that there is much that can be done with sports gaming. There could be more than Fifa v PES and the coming and going of quality in basketball, golf and ice hockey games. This most certainly is not the game to do that. I will say however, the choice of 3 commentary teams and the convenience of having the fixtures and pools installed for this years tournament is very handy although what you’d expect. As I sat watching the opening ceremony this morning and the Hacka being performed by Tonga and New Zealand, finishing this article, it was clear just how much this game has missed the mark in failing to portray just how awesome a spectacle the Rugby World Cup is.

Rugby World Cup 2011 is available now on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

This is the first review by our new sports writer, Fiona Donaldson. In her own words:

A twenty-something design student, working in a bookmakers.

Grew up with an older brother who taught me about the great things in life, like how playing games, loving sports and watching Sci-Fi could get guys to like me. It certainly worked while accosting my loving boyfriend, when I acknowledged Adric and the existence of Secret of Mana and Yoshi’s Island. My ignorance when it comes to reading instructions hinders me through ever game and yet I never learn. Not being born a man means I can never play for Scotland but FIFA allows me to do so in the form of a bald man named after my Dad. ‘Big Jim D’

Curious about the verdict? Read our review policy.