Monday, September 27

Rugby League Live and the God of Bore

Much to my surprise, Rugby League Live is actually playable. That is about the only praise I can level at Big Ant Studios' interpretation of the most unsophisticated sport known to man. The graphics are slightly upscaled from Rugby League 3 on the Wii, and fail utterly to capitilise on the power of current generation consoles. Sure some player's faces look vaguely like their real-life counterparts, but player models with comically oversized arms and in Lote Tuqiri's case, ridiculously small head look embarrassingly dated. Stadiams and jerseys are covered in textures so murky that even the ugliest Playstation 3 games would look picturesque by comparison. The control scheme is also inherited from the past generation, with no noticable changes since the initial instalment on the Playstation 2. Even the top-down view of the action remains. Despite all of this mediocrity, why did my party of three continue to play?

Honestly, I don't know; possibly because it is finals time. Rugby League Live falls just short of broken. After hours of sustained play we encountered several quirks and potential game breakers:
  • When players make a line break, if you pass to a support player they will stop dead to receive the ball. This usually results in a tackle, meaning that you should probably just keep the ball in one player's hands and hope for a broken tackle.
  • When on the attack you have two choices: either hold X to sprint at the line or mash X in an attempt to break the tackle of approaching defenders. You could pass, but out of all the games we played, any attempt to spice up play with cut-out passes almost always ended with an intercept. Whether you hold or mash X, you'll end up making similar gains.
  • If in defense, you can shut down the attack by sprinting at the line. As above, even if you do suffer a line break, it will more than likely be shut down. My brother had perfected defence to the point where I spent 80% of games in my own half. Suprisingly in spite of this, games were still usually low-scoring affairs with both players rarely tallying more than 10 points in total.  
  • First to score almost always won.
  • No team was rated above 89 (selectable from the outset at least; despite my best efforts I could find no proof that the Indigenous and All-Star teams made the game). Team ratings were puzzling to say the least, with the Cowboys rated higher than the Broncos and the Raiders, and equal with several far better squads. The Melbourne Storm, which is for all intents and purposes an all-star team, was only rated 82. 82!    
  • Even though I had read/heard opinions to the contrary, defense did present some fun.
Perhaps the greatest frustration is that EA Sports Rugby Union effort Rugby 2006, is still a far superior game. Sure Union and League are two different sports, but I would argue switching to a sideline perspective and a similar control scheme would transfer favourably to a Rugby League title. I would urge you all to steer clear of Rugby League Live until it reaches the greatest depths of the bargain bin. It is criminal that anyone would charge $109.95 for this half-baked footy pie.   

This past weekend I also spent some time with the brief, and underwhelming demo for Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. I'm sure the final product will allow for something different to the gameplay on show in the trial, but developers should be aiming for more than God of War action with comparable graphics; but I can only comment on what I have played. Saying that any title has visuals comparable to that of God of War (in this case, the third instalment) should be taken as high praise: as the new Castlevania looks ridiculously good from a technical perspective. High-quality visuals aside, it's square and triangle for attacks, X for jump, shoulder buttons for grapples and absolutely nothing new introduced to the third person action formula. Yawn.

I'm sure that I will end picking up CLoS, especially given that Kojima Productions have had some input. I must admit though, I'm dead tired of God of War wannabes.

What did you all play this weekend?


  1. The FIFA 11 demo bro! I am so pumped for that game now hey! It is going to be epic! I am pumped. Also got back on COD 4 for some good old AK74-U pawnage. And I love me my M40A3 and R700.

    And I could have told you that Rugby Live was going to be puss man. Seriously, Jonah Lomu Rugby will reign supreme forever! FOREVER!

  2. I never was a huge fan of Lomu. The scrums were completely busted. Cowies could gain over 50 metres in a single scrum. Rugby 2006 FTMFW.

    I knew RLL would be horrible, but Cowies had to have it. He's defiant though, refusing to return it for a refund. Reuben destroyed something beautiful with his brutal defense.