A game with three names* and only one rival, read on to hear my thoughts on Rugby Challenge.
Tru Blu Entertainment, the distribution team that brought us the highly acclaimed AFL Live, have now joined with developers from across the pond Sidhe Interactive, out of Wellington, New Zealand. The task set to Sidhe was to create the best rugby game ever made. I did a quick poll of my friends and workmates to see what they thought the best rugby game was and the majority said that the current champion was Jonah Lomu Rugby, which was released on PC, PSone and Sega Saturn. So did they manage it? Were they able to topple the champ? In a word: ‘Yes’. I think they smashed it.
The depth that this game holds is incredible. You can choose one of 98 teams and take to the field in a Quick Match, or enter that team in to one of 11 competitions. You can even create your own player, train him up and then put him in a position in your favourite team, local or international. Most international countries are covered, from the powerhouses in Australia and New Zealand to Fiji, Namibia and Georgia – 24 in all, some licensed some unlicensed, but all available to play.
Rugby Challenge offers many modes and competitions including Tri-Nations and Quad Nations, Bledisloe Cup, Six Nations, and a World Cup mode to name only a few. If participating in a pre-existing comp doesn’t grab you, then just go down a few more clicks on the menu and create your own using one of the 11 pre-made as a template to your own master cup. After a few quick games you may feel ready to take on the world, that’s where Rugby Challenge’s robust online component comes into play. With the community already very active the game can place you in a cross-Tasman challenge within moments.
The graphics are great and small touches often help to put you right in the game. Get a player free down the side line and the camera zooms in to just behind the action as you sprint up the field. Feel every hit as the controller rumbles like a jackhammer in your hands, and hear the crowd going crazy with on-field team chatter still making a prominent impact in your ear, as well as the referee calling the rules and plays throughout. The authenticity is further heightened with the use of seasoned commentators Grant Nisbett and Justin Marshall.
I’m not the hugest Rugby fan and have never really spent the time to understand the game, however I really enjoyed playing this and getting to know the sport properly was a bonus. If you are a fan of Rugby Union then this is a must have. Sidhe Interactive have taken a sport that is very deep and which takes a considerable learning curve to understand, and built a fantastic game which can be challenging or just plain fun. Rugby Challenge has been hours of fun for me so far, and hopefully Sidhe can continue to grow the franchise with each new iteration in the following years, building on this very solid base.