Being a Welshman I enjoy the great sport that is rugby, yet for as long as I can remember there has not once been rugby game worthy of the sport. Sadly that statement is not about to change because unfortunately, Rugby 18 suffers with the same issues.
Starting out with a demo match, in which you choose your favourite rugby team from a host of leagues. This match acts as a tutorial, going over the basics of the sport and how to you control the action – what buttons you press and what-not. Offering the basics but not going over everything. After a few minutes I realise that it’s more of a random button bash than knowing what to press and when you should.
Building to my frustration throughout the game is the fact that you have a near microscopic amount of time to bash said buttons. Frustrated confusion abound. Rugby players interact or collide with each other unnaturally at best and down-right ridiculous at worst. Leaving me in a struggle to enjoy playing the game from the offset.
Loading screens are replaced with a rugby quiz mini-game. Where as most sport games would just flaunt screenshots or drop the odd game-tip/sporting fact, here we have a quiz. More to kill time really than to gain any sort of reward.
Player animations feel disjointed most of the time and seem even forced at points – often resulting in the ball being turned over – creating a subtlety unrealistic show which is greatly suffering in the long term. Watching your scrum half miss a tackle and stand around as if unable to move (as if struck by lightning) time and time again raises your temperature rapidly.
During a match you have a few mini games to partake, such as when you’re in a scrum. These mechanics can be fun at times but are often confusing when in the thick of it. For example, while in a scrum you must use the right thumb-stick to move a small pulsing icon near a wandering semi-circle as it dances around the scrum, if done correctly you move the scrum forward and you win the ball. Yet when on the defending side of a maul you must press R1 or L1, preventing the opposition advancing further down your line. Too often I find myself tapping the wrong button and allowing the AI to capitalise on the mistake.
Career mode is very much like other sporting games. By signing new players and managing the costs that comes with it as you improve your squad. Over expenditure of team funds or poor match performance could mean the end of your contract or worse, the end of your career as a manager. Within each season there are a series of objectives for you to achieve, doing so will grant a nice pot of currency as a reward to spend how you see fit, on new players or reduce your debt.
The inclusion of weekly challenges – rewarding you with ‘Star Points’ when completed – gives you the opportunity to negotiate better players for your squad. The ‘My Squad’ feature allows you to craft your own team for local or online matches with friends and the more ‘Star Points’ a team has, the better the team would be. This is a feature that many sports games have implemented but feels watered down and plainly straight-forward for Rugby 18.
I’m sure your supported team will be available as you have access to the Aviva Premiership, Top 14 , Pro 14, Pro D2 and National teams. So a large selection of teams to pick from here and failing that, you can make your own team with your rewarded ‘Star Points’.
Visually, Rugby 18 totes a standard fair for a sports game – failing to stand out graphically. The buildings and crowd are reminiscent of older rugby games in the series by Bigben Interactive. It seems we are only really treated to higher a clarity of player models, helping (or hoping) to blend into 2017.
The soundtrack is very much suited for a rugby game, however the commentators dialog is robotic in delivery – detrimental to the immersion and pace. What always makes me return to games like FIFA is the enthusiasm the commentators bring and how amazing it felt when you finally score that goal you have sweat for.
This cannot be said for Rugby 18, the canned commentary is as if someone had recorded half the line and then separately recorded all the names. It feels as if there is a pause between the name being spoken and the description of the play (A great pass there from, insert name here), this reminds me of earlier rugby games. Definitely something which should not be present in a current generation game.
The overall flow of dialog made it feel abrupt and unnatural, not only did it make me want to play the game muted but it removed any atmosphere to the game at all. Thankfully, you are able to remove commentary from the game in the options, something I would recommend you do. Another negative would be no inclusion of any women’s leagues at this time, however this is something that can be patched in at a later stage.
GAME DESIGN / INNOVATION: 3/10
Rugby 18 is yet another carbon copy of its predecessors developed by Bigben Interactive and fails to incorporate the spirit or atmosphere and lacks the passion of the great sport.
OVERALL: 3.0/10 – TERRIBLE
Reviewed by Adam Walters.
(Disclaimer: CONQUEST received a review copy of Rugby 18 on PS4, however this does not in any way affect the scoring of a game or our thoughts on the game itself. We believe in total honesty and being transparent with you.)