Rugby 15 marks another in a long line of Ruby Union titles developed by HB Studios, a group known for turning out lots of great sports-themed titles. First off, this game has received a lot of bad press and negative reviews. The real question is whether or not Rugby 15 really deserves all the hate and/or if it actually manages to service (or disservice) the sport itself. Read on to find out…
For starters, anyone that’s into sports with a somewhat limited or regional appeal, like rugby or cricket are probably not surprised by less-than-stellar visuals or weirdly adapted gameplay. After all, these types of sports don’t seem to simply translate into a video game form like so many others, which often forces developers to try to simplify controls, etc. Well, to put it bluntly, we see a bit of that phenomenon taking place here, where greater interactivity has been sacrificed for a more arcade-like feel, which isn’t detrimental but does color the gameplay a certain way.
Loading up the game for the first time, you’re treated to a set of screens which serve as the title’s main tutorial. By and large, the commands are all simple enough and in all honesty, fairly standard, so no problems there (whether or not this is the best way to accomplish this is another issue altogether of course). The more you play the more obvious the basic setup becomes, leading you to develop an almost automatic response to basic play, which certainly isn’t anything new.
In terms of visuals, Rugby 15 might not be the prettiest title you’ve ever seen but nor is it glaringly unstylish or repellant. Although a major developer created this, it seems to take on a sort of indie arcade-ish feel with regard to visuals, with overall pizzazz and flash still being present. Part of the supposed problems here has to do with the non-license status of various in-game elements, which means no real player names or likenesses are featured, which is apparently what drives many to play sports games in the first place. No matter though, Rugby 15 still manages to add in some nice touches like weather effects, time of day, etc. which will add various shadows or other visual effects as called upon.
In conclusion – if you’re looking for more of a strict simulation then perhaps Rugby 15 isn’t necessarily for you. To be honest, the game plays a bit like a throwback to some older sports games, yet instead of being fully “retro” it favors more modern presentations and cuts. The game is true to the sport however, which is what is most important and the fact that it has found a way to sort of simplify the controls a bit is commendable, especially for rugby, which can be a bit dodgy. A lack of professional tie-ins and big names is probably what is turning many off of this title, along with some of the aforementioned issues; however it is definitely worth checking out if you are a fan of the sport and prefer something with somewhat simplified controls.