Reviewed on Xbox One; also available on PlayStation 4 and PC.
I’m not going to pretend to be a Rugby pro, I’m not. I know just enough to get by, the basics. This was my first experience with a Rugby game. How close a representation is Rugby 18 it to Rugby? Let’s find out.
When loading up Rugby 18 for the very first time you will be greeted with a very brief tutorial. This game most definitely assumes you have played a Rugby title and some point previously. A lot of the basic controls I had to figure out for myself; passing the ball, getting into the scrum and even sprinting. There are tutorials you can use later on but again, these appear to be very brief. I found the best technique was trial and error. At first it was very frustrating, but as soon as I became familiar with the controls I really started to enjoy playing Rugby 18. I enjoyed the thrill of it all.
It then became clear to me how unrealistic this game actually was, not only this but how inconsistent it was also. Now, I know difficulty will depend on many factors; teams chosen, difficulty selected and at what point you are in the league or career, but I was playing on Amateur difficulty (the lowest it will go) with a fairly decent team and I still found this to be an incredibly difficult game. I know it’s not meant to be made easy but I would play some matches and win very easily, winning every rook, every scrum and making every kick I took without any trouble at all. I would then play some matches where I wouldn’t win any of these things. The AI would run a hell of a lot faster than me and also make tackles a lot easier. Inconsistent. There didn’t seem to be an even balance, I would either win with no trouble or lose by a great deal.
I encountered many glitches whilst playing this game also, which altered my enjoyment with it. At least once every time I played it, it would crash mid- game so I had to restart that same match and on one occasion it even counted as a loss towards me on my career. I also encountered glitches in game where my players wouldn’t move in a scrum or rook so I couldn’t progress any further and also buttons not showing up for me to press during free kicks.
One thing I found really interesting in this game is the loading screens, you will have little quizzes you can take part in to earn yourself some ‘my squad’ points. It’s something really small, but gives you something to do whilst waiting for your game to load in.
There doesn’t seem to be a great deal of modes to choose from on Rugby 18. You have your Career mode in which you will choose a club to manage to work your way through divisions to get to the top. You have League mode, where you choose a team to take part in an official league usually consisting of 24 matches. You have a weekly challenge in which you will have 10 attempts at completing a set objective in order to gain ‘my squad’ points. You can use these to pretty much alter any team you wish and make your ‘dream’ team. Finally, you have your local and online multiplayer. I wasn’t able to test this at the time of the review due to the servers not being online just yet but I did get chance to play some local multiplayer which I enjoyed thoroughly, it seemed more fair as you didn’t see those same inconsistencies the AI seemed to have.
Graphics and Sound
To me, this is where the game lets itself down greatly. Everything is extremely bright, the stadiums look nice and the grass looks realistic and then you see the players close up, disproportioned, blocky characters. Nothing compared to the graphics you would see in games like Fifa 18 and NBA. The crowd is just motionless characters with the odd flag waving and the odd arm movements but nothing more to it than that unfortunately.
There isn’t much in the way of sound apart from the dramatic music on the menu screen and pause screen. During gameplay there is a generic cheering which doesn’t alter to how the game is going; no louder cheers for try’s, nothing like that. The commentary is also very dull, basic, re-used sentences like ‘That’s a good play by (Insert team name here)’ you tend to pretty much ignore all commentary you here, it’s that irrelevant. One thing that really stood out to me was the way the commentator says the team names and player names, with a slight pause before and after each name it doesn’t make for a very realistic experience, it doesn’t roll off the tongue like a ‘normal’ commentator. It’s all very pieced together.
I know this may seem like I’m being very harsh but this all adds to the experience of the game, you’re playing a Rugby game because you enjoy the sport, right? Therefore, you want that experience to be as close to the real thing as possible.
I can’t lie and say I didn’t have fun with this Rugby 18, I did. But that got overshadowed by the numerous inconsistences and glitches I encountered. Hopefully, when the game releases these glitches will become clear and will be removed in the way of a patch but only time will tell. Playing with friends, it was brilliant. We had fun and there was a lot of passion for whomever to win. But unfortunately I can’t say the same for playing on my own. If you’re a true Rugby fan, unfortunately there isn’t a lot of choice for you on next gen consoles and you may be able to look through these faults and enjoy the game thoroughly. I have to analyse games, that’s what I do, so maybe these things just stand out to me a little bit more. We have been spoilt with sports games this past few months with the likes of Fifa 18 and Rugby 18 just doesn’t fit that same standard.