|Rugby 08 (2007)
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Available for: PlayStation 2
Well, I wish I could tell you that I am a huge rugby fan, and keep up with the game year after year, and know every little nook and cranny about the game, and could sit down and talk about the sport for hours and hours. Unfortunately, the reality is that I know squat about ruby, have never watched a match in my life, and after having played EA’s latest “Rugby 08,” I probably know even less. I did enjoy the rockin’ soundtrack, and it seemed like this should be a really fun game, but honestly, I was more lost than when I reviewed “NASCAR 08” and didn’t know any of the drivers. Of course, that was from basically not being a NASCAR fan, but dammit, this rugby looks like it should be big fun.
“Should be” does not always translate into “is,” however. You see, I played through the tutorial for this game, but I still didn’t quite understand the game any more than when I first took the shrink wrap off the game. The tutorial shows how to control the players and such, but as far as rugby rules and understanding everything that’s going on, well, there really wasn’t much help there. I know there are scrums and guys kick the ball and pick up the ball and knock each other down and hold the ball as if they were in some sort of wrestling match, but what does it all mean?
It’s sort of like soccer. Not that it’s “like” it in execution, but it’s like it in that American fans really aren’t very keen or tuned in to the game. Just like how a lot of European football fans hate American football. You hand us something that’s not easily understandable within the first 10 minutes or so, and we’re pretty much lost. Granted, soccer is definitely easier to follow and understand, but don’t hold your breath for it to be taking off here any decade soon, even if David Beckham has come to live with us. But at least I know Beckham and Pele, right? Two soccer players, yes! Ask me to name one rugby player, and I’m lost. No excuses, I know when I’m down for the count.
So anyway, after limping through the tutorial, I tried an exhibition game. Man, I really stunk. At first, I thought I was doing killer until I realized I was watching the other team totally destroy me. So I restarted, trying to get a handle on what was going on. I kicked off, the other team got it, the ball got loose, one of my guys got it, then he got tackled by a dude on the other team and next thing I know we’re lodged permanently to the ground for a number of seconds trying to gain control of the ball. I suppose until the next play was set up. And so it went. I was a rugby virgin, and not at all enjoying the deflowering process.
From what I can tell, the controls were responsive and smooth. The players were indeed easy to control, and so the actual execution of plays was not hard to do. The graphics are about as clean and sharp as you’re going to get anymore from EA Sports on the PS2. Not too many graphical glitches or hang-ups. The camera zoomed out when play got fast and furious down the field, and zoomed in when it was time to try to make a goal or perform a penalty kick. The commentators were more enjoyable than most anything going on in American sports video games these days. The soundtrack was rather rocking and not littered with crappy emo and pop punk bands that everyone’s beyond sick of hearing on EA video games these days.
For rugby fans, “Rugby 08” will surely offer something enjoyable. There is no online play, though, so you’ll be working it out alone or with a buddy. Seems strange that this is the case, given how awesome the PS3 is supposed to be in general and at playing PS2 games. Guess the developers just didn’t wanna be bothered. Ah well, as I said, surely some fan of this sport out there will really eat this thing up. Everyone else without a clue, however, might be best left renting this one. Let me know if you have better success with it than I did.