Some games it’s hard to know exactly what
you’re doing, even if you’re doing well. In the case of the widely popular sport rugby
union, it’s never been more evident. As an American, I’m surrounded by the allure of
American football, and when it’s time to review Rugby World Cup 2011, I’m constantly trying
to make comparisons between the two. Well, the guy running with the ball that looks like
an egg is running towards the endzone. And look! There’s field goal posts! Oh goody!
And why’s the other team trying to kick the ball towards me? Wait…oh that’s why. These
are the words going through my head while playing as South Africa and Ireland. Even
though I still don’t fully understand rugby (and trust me, I know how ignorant that sounds)
I still had a blast playing Rugby World Cup 2011. I am fascinated at the squad selection.
Countries like Namibia, and the gorgeous island nations of Tonga and Samoa all have squads,
countries that I have never really seen performing any other sport. Of course, the All-Blacks
of New Zealand, hosts of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, are the best squad in the game. Unfortunately,
for the more conscientious rugby nut, Rugby World Cup 2011 is akin to FIFA World Cup titles
because there is only one playable tournament. No Tri-Nations, no Six Nations, and most of
all, no real improvements from the EA Sports-published Rugby 08 with Richie McCaw on the front cover.
Also, the top two squads in the world, Australia and New Zealand, are missing their actual
rosters from the time the game was released and are unfortunately outdated. But to me,
it makes no difference, so I played this game in blissful ignorance of the excellent title
it used to be. I began by playing a test match on easy difficulty just so I knew how to score.
I remember watching a rugby match as a lad, remembering the name of veteran lock Bakkies
Botha, and decided to renew the old days with selection of the Springboks of South Africa
as my squad against Fiji. No scrums, no lineouts, no BS. Just annihilate the other side as quickly
as you can. Fortunately, it was easy enough to score 19 points, but Fiji had other plans
of catching up. A tournament match as Ireland playing against
the USA saw me running amok against either a helpless American squad or just poor AI.
A 49-0 scoreline – ouch. It seemed like every time I touched the ball I was able to
get to the end zone. One of the more important attributes to any sports game for me is crowd
reaction. The supporters in the stands should act as supporters, not pixelated cardboard
cutouts. Developers HB Studios have done just as well as anyone in recreating crowd noise
and also illustrate their reactions to great plays with angles from the stands. That’s
pretty much all I’ve got, my loyal viewers. I’ll brush up on my Rugby World Cup knowledge
another time, but for now, I’m hoping the next time they put out a rugby video game,
that it goes over well with die-hard supporters of the sport.