Rugby 18 from Eko Software and Bigben Interactive is a Union rules Rugby game, without going into too much detail of the sport. Union is a slower, more complicated version of the sport than Rugby League. Rucks and Mauls take place when a player is tackled or possession is challenged in Union compared to League’s ‘Play-the-ball’ rule, and there’s 15 players per side, compared to League’s 13, being the main comparisons.
With that out of the way, Rugby 18 features a few game modes; Quick Play, League, Career and Weekly Challenges. Quick Play and Leagu are your standard game modes, enabling you to play a single match and a full league with standard teams. Career enables you to take control of a preferred team and purchase new players on the market to build your own team, starting in the lowest division and work your way up to the top tier. Purchasing players on the market are done so by using the in-game currency. This currency can be earned by completing Seasonal objectives, which you can check out before each game.
You also need to take in to account your annual budget and wages when signing new players. You’ll also earn ‘Stars’ at the end of matches and completing the weekly challenge. These can be used to purchase players for ‘MyTeam’ in the main menu. This team can be used for quick matches, league and online play.
On to the gameplay, for those not fully understanding of the game there’s a decent tutorial that get’s you used to the rules and the mechanics as you play a match, giving you on the fly tutorials to situations as and when they happen. I liked this style of tutorial, compared to other games where tutorials are done as set pieces. During play controls are displayed on screen, with intuitive metres that display during rucks, mauls, scrums etc. Enabling new players to pick up the game fairly quickly.
Gameplay is good, I enjoyed my time with Rugby 18, however, there’s a few niggles with the game that could do with ironing out. AI on the players team sometimes have difficulty knowing which direction they need to be going, you’ll sometimes see them just dithering on the spot while they’re working out where they need to go, one of the main times this can be seen is during a ruck, offside players have issues getting back on the right side of play and will spin on the spot/circle round the ruck til they eventually find where they need to be. If you can look past these few things though there’s an enjoyable game here.
Visually there’s good and bad, the environments looks nice, with the pitch becoming more and more tore up as the games goes on. Players look ok, they’re not photo-realistic, but do the job. Audio is also a mixed bag, with the crowds reacting well, and players grunting and graoning as they’re tackled etc. It’s the commentary that lets the audio down. it’s very choppy, almost reminiscent of games from over 5 years ago, where you can tell it’s all been recorded differently. The commentary also gets cut confused with what is going on, a great example of this is in the video above, right at the end of the match where a drop goal is scored, the commentator says that it went wide..
Online is pretty much the same, I played a few private games and while we had a laugh playing, it was let down slightly with lag spikes now and again providing some strange goings on, such as passing the ball, with a lag spike happening mid pass causing the receiving player to completely miss catching, there was also one instance of a player being tackled by no one..