Rugby 08 is the last release in the Rugby series to be published by EA Sports. The game allows players to play as 20 different Rugby nations, both major and minor, and includes many tournaments, such as the Rugby World Cup, Tri Nations, Six Nations, Guinness Premiership and Super 14.
Rugby 08 was released prior to the 2007 World Cup in France. New modes include the Rugby World Cup and the World Cup Challenge mode. Other new gameplay features include simplified lineouts and defensive formations.
The game received "mixed or average reviews" on both platforms according to the review aggregation website Metacritic. In Japan, Famitsu gave the PlayStation 2 version a score of one four, two sixes, and one five for a total of 21 out of 40.
This reviewer fondly remembers a friend and I signing the likes of Brian O Driscoll and Brent Cockbain to our Bristol team, only to keep the fictional G.Nawali on the wing. Most notable though was C.Heffler, the fly-half who would tide fans over through the early games, but would fluff most kicks at goal. Heffler has become a frequent meme to the aforementioned Facebook group.
During his bid to be elected as the Chairman of World Rugby last year, Agustin Pichot lauded the importance of a quality new rugby game. Rugby gamers will be skeptical of this occurring, with the amount of funding it would require.
Connor Dickins has been writing for LWOS Rugby since September 2021, covering a wide variety of topics. His main focus has been on English domestic rugby, as well as interviews with players from across the world. Connor has also written articles for the World Rugby Museum blog 'From the Vaults'. He graduated with a History BA from Essex University in 2016.
EA Sports Rugby 08 (1.5 GB) is a Sports video sport. Produced and released by HB Studios, EA Vancouver. It premiered on July 17, 2007 for Windows. Rugby 08 premiered before the 2007 World Cup in France. New styles include the Rugby World Cup and the World Cup Challenge style. Other new gameplay features include simplified lineouts and defensive configurations.
But of all the positive changes, the most notable goes to the computer AI, which really pulls its socks up this year. The dark days of fish-like shoals of running drones are long gone, with defensive lines that react intelligently to your set-plays. Even better is the way defences now organise themselves when pushed back to their own try line. Forcing the ball down the last five meters of the field for a try has always been the hardest thing to do in rugby, simply because you're working against a defence packed into a smaller and smaller space, and so it is in Rugby 08. Some of the best moments can be had pulling off Herculean defence efforts on your own try line against phase after phase of concerted attack. It's like Rugby 08 finally cracks that thorny issue of making defence feels just as fun and dynamic to play as attack.
Not all the changes are quite so good, admittedly. The loss of the constant offside decisions is great, but it's been replaced by endless high tackles (in this case, performed by the computer). Being able to rotate mauls and scrums now also seems great in principle, but in all honesty, adds very little to the game tactically. And the decision to change the previously ineffective line-out system of timed button presses to a choice of simple or pro methods, the latter requiring you to mimic your arm swinging movement on the touchline with the analogue stick, is more actually a choice between overly-simple and overly-complicated. Then again, going by previous EA Rugby games, these are the sort of minor issues that will no doubt be fixed by the time the next game comes out.
So, any major problems then? Well, as the official World Cup game, Rugby 08 understandably concentrates on pushing the national side of the game. It still boasts all the licensed club squads and competitions of previous years, but the promising career mode introduced into Rugby 06 has been jettisoned in favour of a simulation of the six-week World Cup tournament (which, by its very nature, lacks any kind of transfer market), along with a brand new Challenge mode where players must replay classic moments from World Cup history.
But even more bizarre is EA's decision to make the PS2 Rugby08's sole console platform. We understand that the game's essentially been built around the shell of the much older Rugby 06, which was a PS2 (and old Xbox) release, but with a PC version of Rugby 08 also out, surely an Xbox 360 version can't have been beyond the realms of possibility? Perhaps it has something to do with Rugby 08's continuing (and in this day and age) unacceptable lack of online play?
Even so, as the only Rugby game to be released in conjunction with this year's World Cup - Ubisoft's Rugby Challenge brand having officially sunk without a trace - EA could easily have just churned out a money spinning, license whore. Fortunately, for the genuine rugby fans out there, it didn't. Instead it has produced another well-conceived and well-executed update, with enough new gameplay features that Rugby 06 owners should warrant investing in an upgrade (we'll conveniently forget the lack of career mode) and enough gameplay concessions that fair-weather rugby fans caught up in World Cup fever can confidently purchase without fear of overly complex control set-ups or endless technical rules vagaries. Still, with PS2 being the only console to see a release, not to mention the continuing absence of online play because of that decision, it makes you wonder just how committed to its rugby licence EA really is.
With the rugby World Cup set to kick off in France in September this year, it was only a matter of time before EA Sports put on the headgear and pumped out another game in its Rugby series. Sure enough, Rugby 08 has landed on the PlayStation 2 just in time to take advantage of the upcoming World Cup hype, but fans looking for a significant leap forward from the last game--Rugby 06--may be a little disappointed. While Rugby 08 does introduce some new elements, the game is a little too close to the 06 offering for comfort.
What Rugby 08 does well--as did its predecessor Rugby 06--is distill the complex parts of the sport into a gameplay experience that ramps up nicely in difficulty once you're past the novice stage. At its core are simple-to-handle controls: The left stick is used to move a player, while the L1 and R1 shoulder buttons are used to pass left or right of the current ball handler. Tackling is handled automatically; all you need to do to take down an opponent is steer your chosen player into the opponent's path, and presto--a bone-jarring tackle is applied. When you add the X button to power up and release a kick, as well as the L2 button to dash, newbies are armed with all they need to know to start playing the game. A simple-to-follow tutorial also helps out greatly, although it doesn't offer much in the way of illumination when it comes to the more complex rules of rugby.
These basics will be enough to get players cruising in the game's club level of difficulty, but the step up to the pro or elite levels will require more tactical thought and a lot of patience--just like a real-life rugby encounter. Rugby 08's artificial intelligence stiffens in both attack and defence at the harder difficulties. While the easy club level will tutor beginners in most aspects of the game, there's still a lot that's left unexplained. This obviously won't bother more hardcore fans of rugby, although it would have been nice to have some of the more oblique rules explained. In addition to tougher opponents, higher difficulty levels bring more player-management issues to handle. For example, injuries seem to happen at a much higher frequency at even the midrange pro level. Because the game features somewhat strict AI when it comes to substitutions, putting a player into a position that he doesn't specialise in will result in basic errors and a greater chance of injury. This means that losing a key position player can often make the difference between winning and losing a match.
General passing also seems to suffer delayed responses. For example, a half-second will pass from the time you press one of the shoulder buttons to when the player actually makes the pass. However, it's no deal-breaker because it's easy enough to compensate for once you get used to it. Passing, at any rate, becomes only one part of a successful strategy in Rugby 08. As in a real rugby game, smart kicking is vital both for better field position and to score points. In this aspect, Rugby 08 once again features game mechanics that are simple to learn yet hard to master. It's easy enough to kick for touch, using the X button to set power and the left analog stick to aim, but it's more difficult when it comes to setting more precise distances or bouncing a ball infield beforehand. Kicking for goal also becomes harder the farther a player is from the posts.
Rugby 08 has an abundance of game modes on offer, and the centerpiece is the upcoming World Cup to be held in France. All of the national sides competing at the World Cup are represented with nearly up-to-date rosters (though there are some exceptions, such as George Gregan still being the Wallabies captain), as are the French stadiums playing host to the tournament. Players can also take part in other real-world national and club competitions, such as the Tri-Nations, RBS Six Nations, Super 14, Guinness Premiership, or European Trophy. Rugby 06's world league mode also makes a comeback. World league is as close to a management mode as Rugby 08 gets; in this mode, players have to take charge of a Division 3 club side and play their way to the big leagues. In addition to playing the matches, players will need to manage player purchases and transfers from season to season.
New to the franchise is the challenge mode, with 30 scenarios from previous World Cup tournaments that present the player with the task of either emulating or changing history. Each challenge has three objectives that need to be completed, with a fourth opening up once the first three are successfully done. Some of the objectives are straightforward. Examples include winning by 30 points, keeping the opposition to a certain score, and completing a set play. But many objectives are, frankly, pointless busywork and seem like a cheap ploy by the developers to extend the life of the game. Some of the stranger ones include having to run around for eight seconds in the goal area before scoring a try, gaining 52 meters with consecutive soccer kicks, or having to perform two consecutive shoulder charges with any player before scoring. 2b1af7f3a8