As someone who remembers trying to win the World Cup over and over again on an old IBM laptop playing Rugby 2001, I’ve always held an interest in rugby games. It’s been four years since the last release of a Rugby video game, and so the build up to the release of the Rugby World Cup 2011 has been rife with anticipation about the upcoming release. On Monday, I was lucky enough to test out the game around two months before it hits the shelves (August 26th).
Speaking with Alastair Jarvis from HB Studios (developer) and John Merchant from 505 Games (publisher), the key for both parties was creating a game that was both “realistic but also a fun product.” The game works off a similar framework to the last release Rugby 2008, except with several improved features. Areas of the previous games that left gamers frustrated such as the ruck area and in defense have been updated. The breakdown has been sped up considerably, with a new “quick pick” feature in place in order to make instinctive attacks a lot easier. Also in defense, tacklers can now strafe between targets as opposed to being locked on to one particular target.
Accessibility to anyone was also a key ingredient for the developers, who stated that for someone completely new to the game, “by the end of their first game should be scoring tries.” This however doesn’t mean that the game will be a walk-over. The developers have sought to make the higher levels of the game exceptionally hard in order for users to not get bored too quickly, as was the case with the last release.
The game also features many other firsts, becoming the first rugby game to be played in HD, and more importantly the ability to play online on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network against friends. This is the seen by the developers as key to the game’s longevity, and users will be able to keep their teams up to date by using the new Player Editor feature.
Authenticity has always played a big part in the games developed by HB Studios over the years, and RWC 2011 is no different, with HB Studios and 505 Games announcing on Tuesday that they had secured an exclusive RFU license for rights to the “Rugby World Cup 2011 England team strip, emblem, players’ likenesses and the Home of England Rugby, Twickenham Stadium, within the game.” With more licenses to be announced over the next few weeks, visually it should be as close to real life as possible.
I got to play a half on Monday, and the new features really stood out. Along with a more intense battle at the ruck, another new feature is the ability to chip kick in attack. The passing and running lines are sharper, and I even made a break with Mike Tindall, proof that I really was playing a computer game. For any rugby fan with a PlayStation or an Xbox, this game will be essential.
Rugby World Cup 2011 will be available for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system on August 26th 2011. For more information, please visit the official website at www.rwc2011game.com
by Ben Coles