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May 22, 2004
World Championship Rugby - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
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Regular play screen.
Rugby. One of the most loved sports on a worldwide scale. Indeed last years Rugby World Cup held in Australia was absolutely and the third biggest sporting event across the globe behind the Summer Olympics and Soccer World Cup. There have already been a couple of Rugby titles on PS2. Electronic Arts have released EA Sports Rugby (which was way overrate on this site and today would score about 55%) and EA Sports Rugby 2004 which scored 66%. Another Rugby game published by HES Interactive and based on League, NRL Rugby League was released last year and offered a very good game of league. This game, however, is being developed by Swordfish Studios, the creators of Jonah Lomu Rugby.

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Time for a kick.
So what's in this game. Well let's start with the game modes, and there are quite a few. These include Single Game, World Cup, European Cup, Tri-Nations Cups Tours and a League. There's certainly enough here to keep you busy. Although this is the official game of the England Rugby team the game includes 20 International Rugby teams such as Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, and all the others involved in the last World Cup in Australia. Multi-player is certainly one of the strengths of this game - it's tremendous fun, especially during the frantic scrums.

Controls are well mapped out with the analogue stick moving the player while the L1 and R1 buttons pass the ball to the left or right of the controlling player. It's fast and fluid and makes the game easy to pick up and play. While in a scrum it's button mashing at it's best as you try to out-mash another human, or the computer.

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Passing out from a scrum.
Looking at the gameplay there are a few niggles that could have been corrected prior to release. The first is kicking for a conversion after scoring a try. For some reason the camera points directly down the field rather then towards the goals making selecting the kicking angle virtually impossible to determine, with or without the wind factor involved. Perhaps it was to make it a bit harder, but surely the developers could have made it look easy but then include a golf swing type meter for the accuracy.

Another niggle with World Championship Rugby's gameplay is the scrums which seem a little haphazard, with the AI seemingly cheating. At times the teams would act as you would expect with bigger packs dominating, at other times the turnovers seems to be determined by the scoreboard. If the computer gets too far behind they seem to win more scrums. Finally I was also disappointed that there is no option to see how well the players are traveling in the game - be it overall fitness or injuries. It makes interchanges during the matches a rather pointless exercise.

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Preparing for conversion attempt.
Graphics in this game range from great to average. Firstly the good. The menus are terrific - easy to navigate and easy see what's happening. The game includes over 400 motion captured moves which turn out pretty well on screen.

Unfortunately the game has some slowdown. It occurs rather infrequently and predominantly when it's heavy rain and fog and the players are at the bottom of the screen closest to the camera. It would have also been nice to see the player models improved which, while not horrible, could have done with a little more detail.

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Wales Vs Canada: scrum.
Sound-wise World Championship Rugby is adequate as it recreates much the atmosphere of the sport, but lacks a lot of polish and certainly isn't up to the standards of many of EA's sports titles. It's quite obvious that the crowds are fairly generic, and rather unexciting overall while effects are minimal.

I'm by no means a rugby fan. I prefer sports such as AFL, soccer and even NFL. But it's a sport, and any sports game can interest me for days. This was one such game. It may not be the best graphically or aurally, but in terms of gameplay it was tremendous fun - much more fun then EA's Rugby titles. Highly recommended for Rugby fans.

Review By: David Warner

GRAPHICSNothing outstanding with some slowdown, but clear to see everything.
SOUNDAdequate sound, nothing more nothing less. Crowds should be better.
GAMEPLAYThe gameplay is the best thing about this game, it's very enjoyable.
VALUESeveral game modes and tournaments, but lacking some frills.
OVERALLThis game may not have the best graphics, nor the best sound. Hell, the number of game modes is probably lacking too. What this game does have is gameplay. This is easily the most enjoyable game rugby game on a console to date.

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