Rugby fever has spread across the globe for an event that only occurs every four years, the Rugby World Cup. Sporting occasions that happen so infrequently, tend to be the pinnacle of their sport and so, everyone wants to get involved in some way. HB Studios wanted to get in on the act by developing the Official Rugby World Cup 2015 game and releasing it prior to the tournament kicking off. Will it be the perfect accompaniment to play alongside the action? Or should we be sending HB Studios to the sin-bin?
A straight red card for this one I’m afraid to say.
Where did it all go wrong? There’s a list as long as my arm. The first issue I found with this rugby union offering was the complete lack of online modes in a game that costs upwards of £40; it’s astonishing that they couldn’t or wouldn’t add the capability to play against anyone online, even in a one-off match. This puts a heap of pressure on the offline side to deliver the goods to make people forget about the online world.
Sadly, it’s an absolute car crash of a game that feels and looks like it’s one of the Xbox 360’s launch titles – bear in mind this is 2015 and is currently being played on an Xbox One. Visually, there are very few titles out there that are worse looking in the modern era of gaming; the players are generic and they’ve tried to mask that by keeping cameras far enough zoomed out, so that you can’t tell who any of them actually are. Even the stadia are basic, with only three different ones to choose from and none of those being licensed.
For those who need to learn the ropes before stepping onto the field of play, the tutorial is about as simplistic as can be. Consisting of still pictures showing the buttons, a few combinations of buttons and generic players re-enacting these moves, it lacks any inspiration and real helpfulness. You could always do free practice but it would have been better to have a more interactive tutorial in order to pick up the controls quicker
Now Training is out of the way, we’re a quarter of the way through the included game modes and all we have left to explore is Friendly Match – which is self explanatory – and two cup modes. Custom Cup allows tournament, league and playoff formats for up to twenty teams. The settings let you pick how many playoff places, how many pools etc. You can choose a logo for your cup too from a measly choice of just three different ones. GET IN! (sarcasm) It isn’t a bad mode if you get a couple of friends round, unless it bugs out like it has done for me twice out of three attempts, leaving me unable to progress past certain stages.
Then there’s the big one, the Rugby World Cup 2015, where I can play the official tournament! Without the official stadia… and without having all the licensed teams…oh and without there being any fanfare in the pre-match build-up of the final or any match for that matter… what a joke eh? New Zealand and Argentina aren’t licensed, even the hosts, England, have their roster populated by made up names such as Jacob Jolly. Not all have silly names but for an official game you’d expect all twenty teams to have accurate squads. When playing the main tournament mode, I could’ve just been playing a custom cup, due to the lack of effort to differentiate the two modes.
On rare occasions, the gameplay can sometimes save a game from being a complete disappointment, but not this time. Glitches occur frequently.Players lay prone on the floor whilst going for a try, the ball often teleports into hands and players can too frequently not bother picking the ball up like it’s a hot potato. Even the A.I. often stand still after a scrum until the game is paused and unpaused. Passing is messy, often sending the ball on odd flights in stupid directions, unless you use the precise passing method which requires a fiddly stick and button combo. Tackles are performed like diving headers in football and even when the collision seems to have missed the opposition, they will go down in the same animation as if tackled perfectly.
Rucks and scrums have a better control method than in previous years, with both teams needing to find the sweet spot on the analog stick to gain ground and possibly steal the ball. This works well against humans and with the A.I. on Easy difficulty, mainly because the A.I. at that level can take an age to find the sweet spot. Whereas for Medium and Hard opponents, they instantly gain possession from rucks every single time, meaning you should just put the controller down and wait for them to score so you can kick it back for the next wave of attack.
If I don’t laugh at what a pathetic attempt Rugby World Cup 2015 is, I’ll be pretty damn angry at what this game represents – making a quick few quid off rugby fans that are enthralled by the World Cup aura. It’s a clunky mess, with out of date visuals and gameplay, that’s bereft of game modes and online play. Although that’s probably a good call in the end. Who’d really want to play this offline, let alone online?
Not I and neither should you, I’m appalled. Just stick to watching the final stages of the Rugby World Cup on the television and avoid this at all costs.