Rugby 18 – Xbox One Review

The second rugby title to arrive on Xbox One this year comes in the form of Rugby 18, a Rugby Union game by developer Eko Software, whereas the previous rugby title this year was a rugby league live title. Although the same sport, there are slightly different rules and way of play. Is that worth a try or is it too much of a ruck?

For those who aren’t familiar with how rugby union is played, the idea of the game is to get the ball from one side of the pitch to the goal, at the opponent’s side. You can run with the ball, kick the ball and pass it behind you to another player, but never forwards. The opponent’s will try to close the player down and tackle them, providing the tackle is within the tackling rules. In rugby union, something which is different to rugby league, is a phase of play called a ruck. With a ruck, players from both teams gather around the ball, using their feet to try and shuffle it to the player behind them so they can run with it. Another difference is that in rugby league, you have a limit of six tackles, before the ball is switched to the other team. In rugby union, there is no limit. These are things, as a rugby league fan, that I struggled to get to grips with, but that’s not the game’s fault, that’s pure ignorance on my behalf.

Having said that, the game starts you out with a tutorial match, that guides you throughout the game with rules and explanations of the game. The game also starts you on the recommended camera settings, with the camera behind your players. This makes it easier to pass to your teammates as any other camera angle will have you second-guessing yourself as to which button to press to pass up or down (instead of left and right with the LB and RB buttons). There are a lot of buttons to remember, considering there are different buttons to be pressed for both attacking and defending, with different phases of play, So it’s recommended that you play a few practice matches to get you somewhat used to the prime buttons you will be using. The rest, you’ll remember naturally through play progression, but you’ll need a lot of patience. Remember the first time you played FIFA and was overwhelmed by the amount of buttons and dual button presses to perform various actions? You can do them without thinking about it now right? That doesn’t happen in a day.

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There is plenty of replayability to be had with Rugby 18, from the Career mode to the MySquads mode, where you can build your own ‘dream team’ and take the challenge online to play against other players’ custom teams. Career mode is exactly what you’d expect from a career mode in sports titles: You start at the bottom division of a new team, where you must rise through the ranks to come out on top. You’ll need to manage your team and budgets, firing players and signing new ones to help better your team. You have the standard quick match mode where you can jump straight into a game against the CPU or set up a match with another local player. A nice addition to the game modes is ‘Match of the Week’, where you can jump straight into a match from rugby history and have your hand in all-important game changers.

Moving on to the aesthetics of the game, well needless to say, you’d be mistaken for thinking this was an early Xbox 360 title. Whilst I understand that there isn’t as much money invested in rugby as a whole, compared to other sports, and thus the money for developing titles based on those sports would be inferior as opposed to the likes of the budgets of a FIFA title. There are also some frame rate issues when playing, mainly during a crucial moment, the game would stutter – almost like it was lagging, even though it was a local campaign match.

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Licenses are aplenty in Rugby 18, with hundreds of offshore players, so you’d expect this to be a top quality rugby game, but instead is let down by the slow paced formula of the game, stuttering of the game and underwhelming graphics. The nice range of modes that gives you plenty to do, but still doesn’t seem enough. Maybe we’ve been spoilt in recent years with the wealth of modes we’ve come to love in other sports titles. Having said that, this is still a half-decent rugby game, but considering the little amount of rugby titles on the console, this is probably the worst.

Rugby 18 is available to purchase from retailers, or can be downloaded from the Xbox Store, priced at £44.99.

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