World Championship Rugby PS2 Review

Publisher: Acclaim Entertainment  Developer: Swordfish Studios  Genre: Sports  Players: 1-4  

Age Rating: 3+  Other console/handheld formats: Xbox

It may be that recreating the sport of Rugby is a tough old job, or perhaps publishers would rather put their money into the next big footy title, but Rugby titles aren’t exactly overflowing the market right now. There is obviously a market for the sport (even more so after England brought the World Cup home) and Swordfish Studios, the development team behind the PlayStation’s Jonah Lomu Rugby, had a task on their hands with the creation of the official England game.

World Championship Rugby certainly has a lot going for it and has been designed so that anyone can more a less get straight into the game, without any annoying controls for those who may not be in tune with games as much as the rest of us, that’s a very good thing. I can’t really claim that I’m a huge fan of Rugby, nor do I know much about the sport, but I commend Swordfish Studios for keeping things simple, allowing for zealous fans or those without a single grain of interest or knowledge of the sport to play the game totally free from complex troubles.

Buttons are kept to a minimum select few. Passes are strung together by using the usual Rugby controls, with R1 to pass right and L1 to pass to the left. The X button is associated with most of the rest of the intuitive controls, tackles, kicks and tries are nicely kept to that one button (with a few others that can be brought into play with the circle button). The game is made even simpler with instructions accompanying the in-game situations. I was  initially dumbstruck but that quickly turned to fluid passing movements through the field, which resulted in glorious tries, and I also began winning tackles by piling more of my men into the bodies of the opposition. There isn’t even a power bar for conversion attempts to worry about, with only the direction and the wind to be taken into consideration. It’s certainly the vertical limit of Rugby games as far as ease of use is concerned.

There is a good few game modes, too, including the chance to win the “expected” World Cup in the World Championship mode and others based on real events such as the Three Nations (Tri-Nations) and Euro Nations (Six Nations). The challenge mode gives you the opportunity to change history in matches that happened in real-life as well as a few fictional tasks. There is plenty here and the obligatory multi-player mode should keep many players going until it’s time for a sequel.

Graphically it’s not really a stunner, it’s all-functional enough for the most part, although it does suffer from some appalling slow-down at times, resulting in players that look like they are struggling to run through a field of syrup. The game does stampede right over Jonah Lomu Rugby without any resistance, there basically isn’t a comparison to be made here but Swordfish Studios other Rugby game has aged terribly. The aural atmosphere from the crowd in each of the glorious stadiums is fantastic, whilst the commentary from Sky Sports’ Miles Harrison and Stuart Barnes is basic at best, but it’s certainly passable and worthy enough for inclusion.

World Championship Rugby is a mostly successful attempt at a video game semblance of the sport, nicely pitched with very few problems. Those bemused by the rules of the sport will be taken kindly to the game and it’s all accessible enough that the rules of Rugby will never seem clearer to you, whilst hardcore fans will similarly lap it up. Simply put, it’s a delight for both the fervent and casual fan and shouldn’t be missed by either.