So the Rugby World Cup is almost on us again and somehow England are going to try and defend their crown. You’ve now got the chance to probably do better than the real team with Rugby 08 on the PS2.
I’m not a massive rugby fan but the good news is, this game is still very playable whether you have a basic understanding of what all those men with cauliflower ears are doing on the pitch or you actively take part in putting your head between other men’s hot thighs on a Saturday afternoon.
What you essentially get here, as with most EA sports franchises, is a game that’s similar to the previous version with mostly good changes and a couple of baffling decisions I’ll come to later.
First of all, the good. As usual, even on the ageing PS2, the production values are spot on. The players look suitably rugbified (is that a word)?, the music and sound effects and presentation are just like watching the game on the TV. As with the last game, you can still offload the ball when tackled but this time you must time perfectly to get the ball to a team-mate and continue your attack.
The AI’s also great for the players you don’t directly control. Defenders no longer just stray offside and the set pieces have been improved and there are more of them when you’re deciding what the best move is when in the middle of a ruck.
The big problem with this game is that because this is the official World Cup game, they’ve concentrated more on the national teams. You can still play as club teams but the career mode has ben completely removed to make way for the World Cup run which by its nature has no transfers, and a challenge mode where you must re-create famous World Cup moments.
Not having the career mode does make the game feel a bit light but there are still plenty of matches to play through and lots of fun to be had if you’re a fan of egg-chasing. I’m not a fan but can’t mark this game down because of it.
Rugby 08 gets 7 out of 10.