EA SPORTS Rugby 2005 - PS2 - Review
Ruck: A loose formation created around a free ball or a player who has been brought to the ground with the ball.
Oh, you mean like the snap from scrimmage in American football. Ok, that seems easy enough.
Line Out: A play where two single file lines are formed by both teams after the ball goes out of touch. A player from the team that did not take it out throws the ball back in from the touch line between the two lines. This brings the ball back into play and determines which team receives the ball.
That’s sort of like the old-fashioned inbounds plays in basketball. Gotcha!
Maul: A loose formation brought around a player who is still in possession of the ball and has not been brought to the ground.
Wait a minute – isn’t that like a ruck? Well, Ok, sort of is, but the player is not eating grass … yet.
Dummy: A technique where one pretends to pass the ball.
Ok, here’s a twist on that one – Dummy: The initial feeling one has who is hearing and trying to understand rugby terminology for the first time.
But seriously, it is not all that complex, and give credit to EA Sports for making the PlayStation 2 release of Rugby 2005 easy to understand, even for “Yanks,” and a hard-hitting, raucous (or would that be ‘ruck-ous’) good time.
The game comes with Rugby 101, a video briefing of the sport and you must hit the play button to work through a short series of skills challenges before you can unlock the game modes. There are two prime game modes – practice and tournament. Practice features basic training, free play, scrimmage and goal kicking. There are eight tournament modes – World Championships, Tri-Nations, Six Nations, Ten Nations, Super 12, European Trophy, World League and Lions Tour.
For those unfamiliar with the basics of the sport, there are 15 players per team on the field during a match, with two types of players, the bigger ones as blockers and the lighter, speedier ones are the main ball carriers (or backs). Of course, you have to always pass backwards, and this is easily accomplished with the L1 and R1 shoulder buttons. The controls also enable you to sprint, shoulder charge a player, or try to avoid the tackle by sidestepping and using your hands to fend off the would-be tackler. The control scheme uses the left and right analog sticks to effect the moves, and the only real stumble in the whole scheme comes in using the sprint key, and then tapping at the right pass button (R2 and R1 respectively). There seems to be a bit of a pause in the controls between one and the other, which can mean a tackle, and ruck.
The game itself has no pads and the hits can look rather jarring. One team kicks, the other receives and you try to move the ball as quickly as possible down the field. Should your ball carrier be tackled, you bind players quickly to a ruck, and try to get the ball back, pitch it out and move it down the field. A try is scored when the ball is touched down in the end zone. You can also move the ball by kicking it. When it comes to kicks you have the grubber and up-and-under, in addition to the drop kick or place kick for conversion after a try (which is worth 5 points). You can also get a penalty kick, worth three points. You can also set offensive plays prior to a scrum using the D-pad.
Rugby 2005 allows for team management and creating your own player. There are 61 teams represented here and the franchise abilities of the game are intriguing.
While the game itself is fast-paced, and even the most novice of this sports gamers will pick up on the nuances of the game quickly, the biggest problem that this game has belongs to the camera. There are four camera positions, two of the classic variety, one broadcast and one side. The default is the side. The problem is that with 30 players on the field, tracking the ball carrier (while on defense) – if you can determine which one is the ball carrier – can be tough.
The game’s sound is a hardy blend of soft rock tunes and the play-by-play is solid. The fans chants even add an air or authenticity to the setting.
Like many EA Sports games, you can tailor the experience by adjusting various facets of the game, but until you fully understand the rudiments of the sport, you may find yourself on the receiving end of a few losses.
EA Sports has delivered a challenging game that embraces both the rugby novice and veteran. The on-field collisions are vicious, the action fast paced and each match invokes elements of strategy and solid athleticism if victory is to be grasped.
Review Scoring Details for Rugby 2005
Once you begin a match, the game moves forward at a consistent framerate with only minor setbacks when it comes to controls and how they work with the camera angles. It is easy to say the camera angles would have improved the game experience, but how to position the camera (other than a top-down view) to accomplish that is hard to say.
The animations are excellent, and the venues are well rendered. The physics of the game have a wonderful life-like quality.
One of the star attractions of this game, the play-by-play, music and crowds bring this game to life.
The medium part is on offense; the hard part is finding which of the three abreast sprinting backs has the ball. The game does have several difficulty levels to tailor the experience.
This title has everything needed to take a person who has never seen the sport to a savvy fan. The controls have only minor stumbles and that is mostly confined to the shoulder buttons (sprint and right lateral).
The game sports two-player, head-to-head gaming. Playing with someone else who doesn’t know what he or she is doing can be great fun, and slightly less punishing than the AI, at least initially.
Rugby 2005 is a challenging game that serves not only as a very good introduction to the sport, but also delivers a solid gaming experience. The problems are relatively minor, and time in the saddle playing the game will yield dividends in terms of guiding your chosen team toward championship after championship. The game does have a decent options package and can be tailored to fit any player’s gaming skill level.