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EA SPORTS Rugby 2004 - PS2 - Review


Posted by: jkdmedia

Review Rating 5.5 Average
Your Score

To Americans, football is the pigskin sport.  To Europeans, football is soccer (soccer is called football over there).  Their version of gridiron action is Rugby, a hard-hitting sport that puts the "ugh" in tough.  It's taking time, but Rugby is slowly making its way to North American shores.  As a sport, any sport, continues to grow in popularity, it's only natural that game developers and publishers will be ready to release a game that captures its magic.  If the NFL and NCAA football games weren't enough for you, EA has brought us another variation: Rugby 2004.

Statistically, Rugby 2004 has got the goods.  More than 1,500 players have been licensed for your gaming pleasure, along with 62 world teams.  The United States are here, as well as Canada, Russia, Japan, and Australia, not to mention all of the popular and hugely successful European teams.  Go British Isles!

The camera angles are more like a soccer game than football.  The standard angle is a side-view, but you can change it to one of several different top-down angled views.  There are a lot of players to cram into one screen, so the camera can't zoom in very far.  (Technologically it could, but the developers obviously didn't want it to.)

In-game controls are an important part of any game, but are especially crucial to sports titles, which work hard to emulate a real-life game.  Since rugby is different from football, Rugby 2004's controls are very different from Madden 2004.  Some changes occur when holding the ball, but the general controls stay the same.  The most pressed button on the Dual-Shock 2 controller (X) is dedicated to punting and drop-kicking.  Perform a hand-off by tapping the CIRCLE button.  Grubber kicks and the up-and-under are executed using the SQUARE and TRIANGLE buttons, respectively.

While holding the ball you can throw left or right passes by using the L1 and R1 buttons, tapping the button for a short pass or holding it for a long pass.  You can also play around with these buttons to perform a dummy pass, hopefully causing your opponent to screw up and pave the way to victory.

As reliable and easy-to-remember as the button scheme is, the controls are a bit unsteady.  The power that I had over my team seemed to be a lot less than normal, almost as if I was one small soldier in a giant war.  I could fire the gun, but would my efforts really have an effect on what was going on?  When in control of the ball, Rugby 2004 didn't feel as exciting or as hard-hitting as the sport that the game is based on. 

Rugby 2004's graphics are like an old, dusty rug: you can shake it to death, but the color is ruined.  Bleached by the sun perhaps, or maybe old age was the cause.  Regardless of the reason, you can't overlook the bland colors, the weak textures, or the ugly players.  It wouldn't be wrong to say that this is the least attractive game EA has released in years.  EA is known for having the best of the best, with the most realistic players around.  In Rugby 2004, you've got cheap player models that move unrealistically.  That alone is disappointing.  Take the rest of the visual flaws into account and you don't have much to get excited about. 

Rugby 2004 was developed for one type of player only: the Rugby enthusiast.  If you're not a part of that group, then chances are you won't be able to get into this game.  It's pretty good, but isn't overly exciting, especially to gamers who are used to playing faster sports titles.  In reality, rugby is a tough, painful sport, and while the game is challenging at times, it doesn't feel superior to football at all.  In fact, with the slow, somewhat sluggish gameplay, Rugby 2004 feels weaker than football!  No matter how much you like the sport, be safe and rent this one first.

Reviewer's Scoring Details

Gameplay: 6
As a game based on a sport that is promoted as being tougher than football, it's shocking to see that the game doesn't live up to those standards.  It's just too slow to enjoy, making it hard for even the most diligent rugby fans to get into it.

Graphics: 5
Eye candy?  More like an eye sore.  Rugby 2004's graphics are a huge disappointment.  The so-called "dynamic lighting" does little to increase the visual quality.

Sound: 5
Rugby 2004 has one lackluster song for the intro, and the rest of the music is just a bunch of repetitive beats.  The commentary doesn't sound like it came from someone who loves the sport (which it should).  Instead, it sounds like it came from a guy who was desperate for a job and took the first offering.  How can the players be expected to get excited with a commentator like that?

Difficulty: Medium
Rugby 2004 is more challenging than meets the eye.  Even experienced football players will have a bit of a learning curve with this one.

Concept: 7
This is a pretty good concept, but where are all of the EA game modes?  Rugby 2004 only has a few, and they mainly consist of game tournaments.  They're not bad, but I wanted something more.

Multiplayer: 5
If your friends love rugby as much as you do, then the multiplayer experience could be fun.  Otherwise they'll get bored and want to play something else.

Overall: 5.5
Do you know rugby?  Do you love rugby?  Have you subscribed to a European sports channel just so you can watch every game your favorite team plays?  If you answered yes to either of the last two questions, then Rugby 2004 is worth looking into.  It's the first rugby game I've played so I can't compare it to anything except games like Madden and GameBreaker.  If that's an unfair comparison, then please encourage game developers to bring more rugby titles to the States.

This title is rated "E" for everyone, but that doesn't mean its gameplay is meant for everyone.  Rent it if you're really curious about the sport or if you're wondering how it compares to EA's fine football games.  Remember though: buying a video game is kind of like getting married.  If there's uncertainty in your heart, you probably shouldn't say "I do."

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