Rugby 2011 has been one of the most talked about sports titles since developer 505 Games announced its existence earlier this year. From bars to brothels, fans have been in heated discussions on what the game could be if developer HB Studioss only listened to what they had to say.
6 months later and 505 have given a few specially selected media a chance to see the game in action at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo and I am pleased to say that not only have they listened to the cries for faster gameplay and more challenging AI, but have done so with a level of quality and precision never been seen in any other ruby title to date. As a result, HB Stduioss have created one of the best HD, current gen rugby games around.
As I mentioned above, earlier today I was one of the few journalist that got any face-time with this title and unfortunately this was all I was allowed. As the game is still knee deep in the development stage I wasn’t allowed anywhere near a controller, so all of what I know has purely been from a 2.5 meter view point.
My demo started from the title screen and we ran over the playable options the player will have right from the get-go. These include Tournament Mode, International Test, Warm Up Tour, Place Kick Shootout and Xbox Live.
The Tournament Mode is pretty self explanatory. This is the World Cup, and will take you on the same path your chosen team will take in real life. You will play the same teams, have the ability to choose your own squad from the 30 man teams that will be announced later this year and most importantly, play the game before and during the World Cup kicks off. Not only can you edit the way the game is built up, but you will also be able to edit specific player’s attributes and desired positions.
In International Test mode, you will have the chance to take your team on a test all around the world that you can create. Set the dates, locations and even the weather conditions of the test and get your fingers and your team ready for the World Cup.
Place Kick Shootout is the mode fans have been asking for. For the first time ever you can take challenge your friends to a shootout to get some practice in and decide who moves up the leader board.
This brings me to the final mode and one that has been long overdue. The PSN and XBLA will now play host to Rugby World Cup 2011 and feature a mass of content and online play. Excited yet?
Once we had run over the modes, I was taken right into the action and was truly lost for words. Graphically the game looks sharp and while I can’t really say a lot on this topic given the game is still in development, what I can say is that HB Studios has reached a point where any rugby fan would be happy with. But they want to take it to this game to the next level and if the current quality is anything to go by, this game is going to knock the proverbial socks off any fan doubting 505.
Gameplay wise, HB has introduced a lot of new features. These include shoulder charging, hand-offs, more complex side stepping, throwing a dummy and if you are feeling adventurous, even spear tackling your opponent. Also new this year is the option of extra time and sudden death modes. If you have finished the game and it is a draw, the game will give you the option of extra time, then sudden death and if the game still hasn’t been decided, a place kick shootout will decide your teams fate.
As I mentioned above, the gameplay is about 100 times faster than any other rugby title. It moves so well and you are going to have to get a few practice sessions in just to hang onto the ball at the higher difficulty sets. But HB has taken the gameplay even deeper, from picking your defensive sets with the d-pad to the new guard control that allows players to set themselves into a more supported stance to make that try saving tackle.
This game is far deeper than I ever imagined it to be, and I am a bit ashamed that I didn’t give 505 the credit they deserved going into this demo. But the truth is they deserve it and so much more for the work they have put into Rugby World Cup 2011.
Unfortunately, this is all I can say on the game at the moment as I am under embargo. But as soon as it lifts (date to still be determined) I will reveal everything I know and trust me when I say this, everything I know is covered in the most awesome awesomesauce imaginable.
As it stands, the game is set for an August 26th release on PS3 and Xbox 360. Unfortunately as it stands, the game will not be coming to PC. Expect a full written review on the game closer to the release only on Lazygamer.net.