Oxfam Bookshop Carlisle
Electronic Arts, as holders of the current official license for the sport, have been the only company to publish action-based Rugby Union games for some time now. Their first, in 2000/2001, was developed by Creative Assembly, a software house perhaps better known for their stewardship of the Total War strategy series on PC. Rugby 2004, released to ride the wave of publicity surrounding the Rugby World Cup, was developed by HB Studios, a small Nova Scotia-based outfit also responsible for EA's Cricket titles. As well as fully licensed international sides, the game featured a whole host of club teams from across the globe, and allowed payers to take part in such revered competitions as the Super 12 and World Cup. As well as attempting to recreate the big hits, rucking, mauling, scrumming and kicking that constitute the action of any rugby match, the game also allowed players to select a number of pre-programmed set plays to befuddle and confuse their opponent.
Now HB Studios are back, delivering the latest instalment in the Rugby series, Rugby 2005. Out in a week that the real-life Six Nations Tournament is in full flow, the game will offer fans the chance to participate in this tournament, as well as a fully licensed representation of the British Lions Tour, also scheduled to take place in 2005. On top of that, there's Super 12, the European Cup and European domestic leagues. More licensed club teams are featured than last time around too. Also much updated is the training system, which promises to take care of newcomers to the game and sport alike, with a potted explanation of the rules of rugby football, a tutorial mode teaching them the game's controls, and a practice pitch where they can undertake a series of challenges. Controls are noticeably different from the last version, with on the fly set plays being assigned to the d-pad rather than the pause menu, and sidesteps and hand-offs mapped to the right analogue stick, in a similar way to other titles in the EA Sports catalogue. The player model graphics have been improved, as have the physics governing them, with height and weight making a bigger difference than ever on the pitch. In relation to this, the player editor has also been given an overhaul. International stadiums are more evocative than ever before with new camera angles, replay controls, and new sound effects including commentary and authentic chants and songs from different nations. Rugby 2005 certainly looks to be taking decisive strides forward for the series.
Case: New & sealed.
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