EA SPORTS Rugby 2004 - PC - Review
In the gaming world, one type of genre always tends to stick its head far above the rest, and that’s sports titles. Whether it be football, baseball, soccer, or hockey anytime that EA releases a new version it’s a sure bet that umpteen thousand copies will go flying off of store shelves. Well, rugby is a popular European sport that we Americans haven’t really been given a gaming option to try out much, but EA has now taken the football style sport and brought it to our shores for PC in the form of Rugby 2004.
I’ve sat and watched Rugby on TV, and I can honestly say that those guys have a heck of a lot more guts than I do, since the hard-hitting sport seems like it would produce a ton of accidents considering its close resemblance to American football mixed with soccer but played with no pads. Rugby 2004 contains all of the world teams, including the U.S., Australia, etc. with all of the actual players represented and even an option to create your own tough guy and stick him into your favorite team roster. In addition, you can play a single match up, practice mode, multiplayer, or compete in various tournaments like the World Cup, Six Nations, or Tri Nations showdowns.
In typical EA fashion, Rugby 2004 is probably one of the best versions of the game that you’re going to get. While playing, it reminded me of the matches that I’ve watched on TV as you send your players running into a horde of opposing team members chucking the ball left and right trying to make your way down the field. The problem that I ran into here was in the fact that the passing and scoring element of the game and control factor of the ball carrier really didn’t seem that friendly, and I often wound up tossing the ball to the ground or kicking it about 10 feet instead of to someone else even though they happened to be running right along side of me.
Secondly, the AI seemed to be way too tough even on the easy difficulty setting, especially for a game that really hasn’t hit the popularity mark here in the states yet. The majority of the game usually had me tossing the ball to the ground or getting tackled and having it get stripped away from me while the AI seemed to move it along with little to no problems. Even when I tried to mimic what my opponents were doing to try and get some momentum going, they would just grab it away again or something would happen to cause the players to go into a “scrum” or a penalty to be given and stop the game.
Another factor that I ran into here was in the overall excitement kind of sports feel that most other sports titles have. While playing football or soccer or something they usually generate an “oh” or “ouch” or some kind of overall statement after a good play or a big hit, Rugby 2004 just didn’t really seem to have that same oomph to it even considering the potential action base and hard hitting that the sport is known for. Instead, it just kind of drug on me, and I found myself quickly getting bored with it after only a few hours.
Graphically I have to say that I was pretty disappointed with Rugby 2004 also, especially considering the amount of credit that EA is given for their great attention to detail. While you could tell that there was motion capture used and implemented in the game, everything looked blocky and just generally outdated. Players would sometimes look like they were moonwalking along the pitch if you were holding down the movement button and they were running into another player, and the crowd just consisted of completely uninterested computer people who sat still and never seemed to move.
In the sound department, Rugby 2004 turned out to be right around the average mark. The crowd cheers and chants in times during play as they do in typical sports games, but we’ve all seen and heard this before. The announcers are present to fill you in on plays and what’s going on out on the field, but also tend to be a little bit repetitive at times and didn’t really do much to add to the excitement or overall feel of the game.
Overall, the bottom line is this … if you are a rugby fan, then Rugby 2004 may wind up being something that would be good for you to look into. If you watch it periodically, but are interested in how to learn to play the game, this is not going to be the best title for your money. There really is no tutorial to help you understand it, and even after X hours of playing I still have no clue what starts a scrum or what a ruck truly is. If you are planning to buy, buy with caution.
While the controls are laid out and pretty easy to learn whether on the keyboard or on a controller like my handy dandy Century Concept Digital, the controls seemed very unfriendly and didn’t seem to make a lot of sense as I punted balls about 15 feet and constantly tossed the ball to the ground. In addition, the game itself really doesn’t get that exciting, even during the last few minutes of a tight game, which is uncommon for a sports title these days.
Graphically, Rugby 2004 would have looked great if it were released back in the late 90’s or right around 2000. Many of the characters had oddly shaped heads, there were a ton of jagged lines, and everything just looked rushed.
The sound in Rugby 2004 was probably the highlight of the experience, even though it really wasn’t that great either. There were some nice effects added in like the crowd cheering or chanting as the game progressed, but overall the announcers got too repetitive and there wasn’t any emphasis to big hits or anything.
Even playing against a team who’s stats are volumes below your team, the AI is relentless and there’s not a whole lot of explanation or help or assist newer players in learning the ropes or figuring out what to do. Add in the unfriendly controls and it gets really frustrating really fast.
Personally, I was really looking forward to trying out Rugby 2004. While it looked a lot like what I’ve seen on TV, there wasn’t much of a learning lesson or tutorial to help learn the game and this definitely won’t do much to get newer people who may be interested into the game.
If you have friends from overseas or die hard Rugby fans coming to visit and you’re looking for a good game that both of you can play … this will fit the bill nicely provided that they can explain what’s going on.
Well, I have to say that I was disappointed to see my Rugby experience end like this, especially with EA’s name on the box. If you happen to be a big fan of Rugby, then this may be something that you could find some enjoyment in, even though a lot of the looks and such are pretty below average. If you don’t know rugby and are just looking to learn the game, I would recommend getting an encyclopedia or checking the internet since you probably won’t learn too much here.