It’s a known fact that the last great Rugby game to grace any format was Rugby ’08 from EA and back then the Springboks had just won the 2007 Rugby World Cup. Rugby gamers were on top of the world and everything was good. Today that’s a different story. The Springboks are average at best and Rugby 18… well, best you look away.
You basically have a bunch of chickens without heads running on a rugby field.
When you start a game up and it crashes in the first match you know you’re in for a very long 80 minutes. Rugby 18 is a complete mess from beginning to end. There is one mere positive – the Springboks, All Blacks, Wallabies and other important northern hemisphere licenses have been included. You get to see a snazzy image and stats of each and every Springbok player in your line-up. You also get to play as the Cheetahs and Southern Kings, thanks to their inclusion in the Pro 14, and that’s as good as it gets. There is no Super Rugby, Rugby Championship, Currie Cup or any southern hemisphere tournament that matters and if you were hoping to play as the British and Irish Lions you’re out of luck as it’s behind locked paid for content, unless you pre-ordered this poo. It’s disappointing on all fronts.
There are some high tackles incoming
When you consider that you’re playing this game on a 4K television and it looks worse than Rugby ’08 (a PS2 game) it’s hard to accept. Players are all represented by these buffed wrestling-like characters who control like players with carrots up their backsides. Everything looks so robotic and the animations are extremely poor. Be it in a ruck or maul, it’s dreadful. Pass a ball to a player on your left or right and one of three things can happen. Either they catch it and run right into the player right in front of them or they catch it and run in the exact opposite direction you want him to run or the ball flies right past him. It gets better. The ball is now on the ground for you to run towards and pick up. Instead, the first five players will get there aimlessly wandering about while you wait for one bright spark to show up and pick up the ball. You basically have a bunch of chickens without heads running on a rugby field (as can be seen in the below image – there’s no structure). It’s definitely not where the problems come to an end.
The commentary is the most laughable thing you’ve ever heard in your life.
You’ll hear the referee blowing his whistle and talking to players when there’s a foul of any kind, but you won’t see him or his line judges on the field. There are only 30 players on the field at any one time. The commentary is the most laughable thing you’ve ever heard in your life. Firstly, as with most rugby games, they can’t pronounce the names of most South African players, but there are much bigger issues this time around. There are moments with complete blank statements.
For example, you enter the stadium and the commentator says: “Welcome to those of you this evening joining us for *blank*” or “The ball is picked up by *blank*”. It could be that these audio files are either not linked or not there at all, but it breaks any form of realism it would like to create. It could of course also be that fact that there are no licensed stadiums and instead they have it down as ‘Stadium 1’, ‘Stadium 2’ right through to ‘Stadium 6’. Yes, a lot of thought went into that naming process.
A straight-up red card
Set pieces such as scrums and lineouts work okay, but once you get the ball it all falls to pieces. There are no set moves from a scrum or lineout. The scrummy can merely pass the ball left or right, kick it ahead or pass it back to the flyhalf – it’s just that everything feels completely out of your control. Players generally never do what you want them to do and it feels like you’re at a loss whenever you do make the rare break as a prop will easily catch a wing. Thanks to this mess it’s just about impossible to perform tactical grubbers, punts or up-and-unders. On the other hand kicking at posts is so simplistic. Press the right analogue stick in the direction you’d like to kick the ball. No, that’s it. What is hilarious is that Ross Cronje is the kicker at goal for the Boks and it can’t be changed (unless you build your own squad).
Defending is also neither here or there. Pressing X will change to the closest player with the ball when the opposition is in control and circle is used for tackling. The one moment you’re pressing the circle button and crunching the opposition into the ground and the very next moment they run right past you while you’re mashing away at the circle button right next to them. It’s infuriating.
In terms of modes you’ll find a Career and League mode whereby you have to work your way to the top of what is basically glorified tournaments. Take part in these modes (or quick matches) and you’re rewarded with star points to build your own dream team in My Squad. This squad can be used in the various modes or be taken online to face other human opponents. To recruit a new player you spend your star points on the detailed list of available players, but be aware that it takes a long time to build up enough points to gather all the star players you might be after. The problem is that once you’ve built your dream team you still have to enter a match that’s just about unplayable. It feels like such a pointless exercise.
Rugby 18 is a poor rugby game. It’s littered by so many glitches and is just about unplayable. It’s yet another rugby game that has been caught in an offside position, it’s just that referees had enough this time and are showing it the red card.