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Nov. 9, 2005
Rugby League 2 - Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Anticipation Players Price
8/12/2005Tru Blue GamesSidhe Interactive1-8, 2 $99.95

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Graphics look quite improved.
In Australia there are two winter sports - Australian Rules and Rugby League. Back in March Sony announced that they had secured the exclusive rights to AFL Premiership 2005 on Playstation 2. Only a matter of days later Sidhe Interactive, publishers Tru Blue Games and distributors HES Interactive announced a sequel to their 2003 smash hit Rugby League game NRL Rugby League would be coming to Playstation 2 and PC - but at this stage not XBox! Yes folks, Rugby League 2 is heading to a PS2, and much like AFL Premiership 2005 (which is developed at IR Gurus) the promised improvements are vast.

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An actual in-game screen!
Development on this sequel began in February 2004 (no doubt after celebrating the success of the original NRL Rugby League) and in that time many advances have been made to the game in terms of extra features and gameplay elements. As you would expect Rugby League 2 includes all the major teams and competitions including the NRL, Super League, State of Origin, City versus Country, and a range of international teams such as Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, France, USA and more. Fixtures will be taken from the 2005 season with this seasons sponsors and around 40 stadiums being included - all of which, unlike the AFL title, will include real stadium names. Besides single matches the game includes a Competition mode and a Franchise mode.

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Missed the tackle.
Competition Mode allows gamers to take their selected team or teams through a single year of a given competition. In fact if, for instance, you have several mates around it will be possible to each pick a team and follow them through the entire season. The Competition Mode includes Super League, NRL, State of Origin, City vs Country, and more.

Perhaps even more exciting is the news that Rugby League 2 includes an all-new Franchise Mode which lasts up to 10 years. This Mode allows gamers to take control of one team through multiple years of either the Super League or NRL and offers more advanced management functionality including player contract management, injuries, judiciary, and mid season representative games. It will even be possible to send your team off to training.

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Sponsors logos in the background.
In terms of gameplay the developers have added in several new features such as ball stripping, shoulder barges, diving on and kicking the loose ball, contesting the high ball, pass to playmaker and more. The game rules and setup can be adjusted with a variety of sliders however we can confirm that there will not be any fighting in the game - a decision made between the NRL and developers Sidhe.

As if that wasn't enough another major addition that is certain to get most gamers excited is the inclusion of one-on-one online gameplay which will not only allow competitive and friendly play over the Internet but also keeps track of player rankings, and statistics. Sadly it won't be possible for a PS2 Rugby League 2 player to compete a PC player - but I'm sure there will be more then enough PS2 owners to keep you busy.

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The Franchise Hub Menu.
As you can see from these screenshots (including the new in-game shots) the graphics are extremely impressive. What is a major bonus is that the motion capture has been performed by none other then Weta Digital, the company who worked with Peter Jackson to do the visual effects in the Lord of the Rings movies, as well has the upcoming King Kong. The developers have also individually modeled the likenesses of over 500 players and officials. Finally, commentary in the game is being provided by none other then Andrew Voss of Channel 9. In what is most welcome the game will even recognise up to 900 different created names in the game while the voice of NRL referee Steve Clark will also appear in the game.

I guess the only disappointing aspect is that Rugby League 2 won't make it out in time for this years finals series with a date set for December 2005. Still, I would much rather the developers at Sidhe get this game running perfectly before releasing it, something which by all indications looks like happening. If you're a Rugby League fan then start saving for this game now. It looks like an essential purchase.