Rugby Union is big in NSW, but when our Aussies play internationally, it’s something we can all get behind. Wallabies Rugby Challenge has exclusive rights to the Australia and New Zealand teams, setting up the ultimate challenge for the most passionate Union fans from either side of the Tasman.
The 2011 Rugby World Cup is taking place right now in New Zealand, so this timely release should serve fans well. The game is available now in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa (the three biggest Rugby countries) and scheduled for release for the rest of the world on October 14th.
The game features Rugby legend Jonah Lomu and will actually sell under that name Worldwide. The same game in New Zealand is marketed towards All Black Fans. While this may be a costly production exercise, targeting a game to an audience makes a lot of sense and will likely result in higher sales. Just be sure to look for the right title in your region.
Keep in mind there will likely be a zero-day patch if you decide to pick up the game, with developers Sidhe addressing early feedback. You can see a fairly extensive list of notes for the update on the official site.
With any action game, when your fully immersed in gameplay, the graphics fade away and you enjoy the experience. On-field the graphics are pretty decent with detailed textures, good crowds and great environments. There is however an issue with the graphical representation of players during the team selection. Players faces suffer from heavy aliasing making them look almost cartoonish rather than photographic.
During matches in the rain, there’s no visual impact on player clothing and cloth simulations as a result of them being wet. With so many players needing to be rendered on the field, this would be a challenging task.
Your mileage with an intricate sport like this will vary based on your experience and knowledge of the game. Fortunately for those less familiar with the code, the game contains a fairly extensive tutorial mode. I strongly advise newbies to run through this before attempting a real match.
There’s a number of game modes including Tutorial Mode, Quick Match, Competition Mode, and multi-year Career Mode for those with seriously too much time on your hands. Locally you can play up to 4 people (2 co-op), but online you can join teams of 8.
At times this game suffers from an issue with camera movement. Switching the 180 degrees from offense and to defense, is one example of where it could have been done in a smoother, less disorienting way.
Check out the video below to see Lomu in a motion capture suits during the development of the game.
Price & Availability
While this review is based on the Xbox 360 version, Wallabies Rugby Challenge is also available on PS3 and PC via Steam. The best price for the game currently is A$89 from JB HiFi, but depending on the retailer you choose it could be $10-$20 more.
Game currently have a special on Rugby World Cup 2011 making the price difference another strike against the game.
Rugby Union fans will be happy with this game, despite some minor issues. The publishers Tru Blu Entertainment would be smart to continue to service community feedback with patches. This game’s biggest issue isn’t bugs, it is competition. While Wallabies Rugby Challenge is a pretty decent offering you can have a lot of fun with, I suspect most cash strapped gamers will choose Rugby World Cup 2011. While I haven’t reviewed that title, my advice as always is to read and compare multiple reviews so you get the most out of your hard earned (or Centrelink).
The Rugby World Cup only comes around once every 4 years, so its great to see fans having a number of options to choose from. I wish the same could be said about all sports, take V8 Supercars as an example, there hasn’t been a game this generation of consoles.
More information @ rugbychallengegame.com