Rugby 15 - PC

Release Date:

November 14, 2014

Viewing USA:

Also on UK.


In Rugby 15, experience all the emotions of a real match with the players, jerseys and official statistics of the 2014-2015 season and commentary by Stuart Barnes and Miles Harrison. Whether you are an expert or casual fan of rugby, the controls are adapted to your style of play, so you can make all the moves: sidesteps, hand-offs, pop passes, shoulder charges, grubber kicks, drop goals, tackles. All the rugby tactics are here: manage your team before and after matches, choose between kicking for touch, pick and go and tap kicks, change your formation in real time and try an overlap or an up and under.

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Rugby 15 was supposed to be the release that put the relatively niche sport mark on the map for scrum lovers everywhere. Developed by the guys and girls at HB Studios, who we are sure did not mean to make something so offensive. We picked up a copy for our Xbox One in a misguided effort to collect every major sports release for the console. Our knowledge of Rugby extends only as far as that one guy at the gym who plays Rugby and talks about it at the water fountain all the time. He swears the sport is awesome. We weren’t sure. So we gave it a shot. Being that we are going into this game blind we had to give the title a benefit of a doubt, after all: couldn’t we be the issue? As it turns out, we weren’t. Keep reading to learn why you should avoid this title at all costs.

So after doing a bit of preliminary rugby research we found out that the guys at HB Studios had a bit of a challenge on their hands. Sports games intrinsically must emulate both the feel of the actual sport with a shot in the arm of energy. Nobody wants to sit through 2 hours of a baseball game, but they really want that legitimate experience. So the same thing holds true for Rugby 15. The game has to be true to life to the actual sport so it can appeal to the hardcore fans and it has to be accessible to the rest of the crowd. It hurts that the game itself is relatively slow paced with less obvious detail on display. You aren’t going to have a LeBron James in rugby that you can use to upsell copies. That lack of a distinct personality almost immediately tainted every other aspect of Rugby 15.

Like football (soccer), rugby fans are some of the most loud and passionate people in the world. Watching a game with a true rugby fan can introduce you to a whole side of the sport that you never really knew existed (if you knew it existed at all to begin with). Any rugby fan will tell you that the actual game is physically exhausting and exceedingly violent. There are no clock stoppages in order to move the line of scrimmage. There are no big breaks or time outs to stop the clock for awhile. Possession changes are even sort of rare themselves. With all that being said, there is a distinct beauty in watching a pair of skilled teams go at it. So we were hoping to see some of that prowess on display when we jumped into an exhibition game.

Immediately upon picking our team and hitting the pitch (is it called a pitch in rugby?) we felt all of the energy in the room begin to seep away. Rugby 15 looks every bit the generic experience that the cover promises you. The stadiums are lifeless, the field itself is barely even textured, and every single player on the ground blends in to the guy next to them. Outside of skin tone changes there is almost no detail. All of the aforementioned poor detail could have been overlooked if the actual sport itself was entertaining. The problem is that the game simply does not inspire any sort of entertainment.

Scrums are the lifeblood of any game of rugby. These happen when both teams lock together like two swarms of bees going for simultaneous headlocks. At the center of all this action one team will have the ball and they’ll try to move the scrum toward the opposing end zone so as to get a score. In real life these scrums should feature a ton of violence and energy on display with players hooking, breaking free, and getting tackled. But it doesn’t all happen here. Instead it almost feels like we are watching the computer play and merely exist as a spectator in some sort of boring simulation. The scrum rarely moves and when it does it is because the ball was stripped away (far too easily) with a simple click of the button. There’s no energy, no changing of the beats, and no reason to keep playing.
But we did.

On the field when you actually get moving you’ll find that things get little better. The controls in the game are enormously loose and floaty. The actual techniques are easy to learn and use, as most of the game has you simply running and tackling, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. Rather than feeling like human beings, the controls make us feel like we were steering little boats on a windy ocean. Turns were too wide, sprinting didn’t feel effective, and collision detection felt almost non existent.

We’ve labored the scrum quite a bit in this review but you should at least know what to do when you are in one. Once your team locks the other team in a scrum you will see an action bar rotating on the bottom of your screen. Punching in the right buttons at the right time will help you push forward, like some reverse game of tug of war. It’s honestly the most challenging part of the game and that isn’t exactly a compliment.

In sports like football and basketball you will feel like you are existing alive on the court. Defenders break off their routes to go for interceptions, athletic guards go for the steal and fast break dunk, and a shoot-out in hockey is almost completely unpredictable. In Rugby 15 all of the action feels cued up to your character, thus erasing any feeling of spontaneity. Every time you move, the AI moves with you. If you stop, they stop to.

When we got done playing Rugby 15, which was rather quick, we couldn’t believe that the title got a green light. Skip this and go pick up the new FIFA instead.

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Big Ben Interactive

Release Date:

November 14, 2014

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