With the rugby season over in the Northern Hemisphere, and a lack of lack of Sky meaning there’s no rugby for me to watch at the moment, its at this time in the year that the only way to get my fix is to turn to the games console…
Now although an optimist I think I took fantasising too far when I began to think of a rugby game that would really leave me happy, but hey ho you can only ever hope so here’s my wish list for what would be the greatest rugby game ever…well I’d buy it at least! Being even more optimistic, a new rugby game would also mean that it could help the game expand to up and coming nations such as Japan.
Undoubtedly Rugby 08 is the best rugby game around even compared to later games, such as Rugby Challenge, as an all round game it just cannot be beaten, as my innumerable hours of playtime compared to all other rugby games proves.
Firstly any sports game you play you want to be realistic, so that means good graphics and realistic features, including sound effects, so unlike Rugby Challenge 2 when a player gets smashed in the tackle it doesn’t sound like he’s had his first poo in a month! Also last time I checked people can’t run through rugby posts so why should they on the game? Most importantly it would be nice for players to actually look like themselves, Rugby Challenge got it right with some players, rather than payers appearing like demented muscular lumps of clay, with a facial expression that makes you think they’re a possessed lunatic.
I think game play-wise a combination of Rugby Challenge and Rugby 08 would be the best. Although the offloading game of Rugby Challenge (with 50 yard reverse out of the back of the hand passes the norm) completely ridiculous and should be cut back; while the camera angle and ability to beat players individually seems far more realistic in Rugby Challenge than Rugby 08. The opposition defensive line should obviously be more realistic, while the ability to play set plays like in Rugby 08 would further benefit the attacking dimension of the game. Defensively I think both games are completely fine, although I’d like the ability to tackle the opposition diving over the try-line to make games more dramatic and intense, particularly against friends. Rugby 08 also got it right with the option to do short passes to the forwards and the World cup game were on to a trick with the ability for forwards to pick and drive from rucks and scrums. Quick tap penalties and line outs are also a must, to keep the game flowing. Also one of the things lacking from Rugby Challenge was any involvement of the full back in attacks, which Rugby 08 and the World Cup game were quick to include. Another aspect is backs should genuinely be better ball handlers than forwards, especially front five forwards, as personal experience proves, they just have more skills (however long I’ve tried kidding myself of my abilities as a second fly-half) and this should come to light in the backline play. Forwards should not be able to fling 20 metre passes in the game, as few can do it! If these aspects of game play were combined the game could really be on to a winner.
One of the biggest bug bears that drives me mad is squads. That is the major starting point, any genuinely acceptable rugby game needs all the squads – that’s Super Rugby, Pro12, Top 14, Aviva Premiership, and International teams (including all the Southern Hemisphere squads) – as the foundations for the game. All club and international competitions should be there too. Even the likes of the Pacific Nations cup and Nations cup. Rugby is a global sport and the best way to promote this is for people to know about all the competitions, a mass-produced game would be one of the best ways of spreading an interest in rugby in countries such as Germany, Spain and Portugal, if they can use their teams in national competitions. In addition this means the European teams in the Challenge cup should be there too. On that note, world famous sides such as the Barbarians and the Lions are also key, as they are two teams that put bums on seats, so will attract greater interest in the game. In the future inclusion of competitions such as the English championship would also be another place to expand to, with the quality always increasing, and more and more household names plying their trade there, this also applies to the ITM cup and Currie cup. Alongside this with the world cup in Japan in 2019, and the growth of Japanese rugby with icons such as the Honey Badger and many former All Blacks plying their trade there the Japanese league would be another area of expansion to mirror and help rugby’s global expansion.
As far as game modes go alongside club and international tournaments, there should be a strong Career mode, as a manager. That is one of the massive attractions of FIFA, possibly one of the most successful sports games ever, I mean I often find watching football mind-numbingly dull but could play FIFA for hours. The ability to create your own team, can become a real labour of love. While Rugby 08 and Rugby Challenge both had a go at career modes neither hit the jackpot. Rugby Challenge had no such thing as transfers, and you often couldn’t get real players! Most importantly there should be player growth, aging players should decrease in pace, but maybe increase in skill/ experience, while young players should increase in skill and ability according to how they play – in short, like FIFA – if I buy a teenage maverick winger, who has a blinder of a season scoring tries for fun, he should get better as he evidently would in reality, so his pace and skills, such as handling and agility should improve. Players should have opinions so if you’re not playing someone they can become unhappy and ask for a move. Also the ability to manage a national team should be there and the chance to manage your youth squad so you can really grow a squad of the latest talent, to become stalwarts of your winning first team.
Online game play should be better too. Another massive attraction of FIFA is Ultimate Team, and it would quite easily translate to a Rugby game, being similar to the career mode of Rugby 08, except with the added ability to batter your friends. Of course there should be the ability to edit players, teams and create your own teams or player. Another fun aspect would be to have a Sevens game mode, as this is one of the most popular global aspects of the sport, while its involvement in the Olympics means its stock will only grow further! It would also be great to be able to control some of the quickest and most skilful players in the world, so official Sevens squads would also be necessary. Although not a must the expansion of Sevens, with the World club Sevens in its second year, adding another option for expansion in the future. Likewise, the JP Morgan Sevens is one of the best testing grounds for young talent and would be a brilliant aspect to have in a career mode.
Other touches like descent background music, while you tinker with you team and the best commentators in the business should be available , that means your Miles Harrisons and Stuart Barneses for internationals and the BT Sport Team for Aviva Premiership games etc.
All in all I think these components would provide a great blueprint for a phenomenal rugby game that I’d play for hours, but what would you add or do you most want from rugby 15?