Being from Melbourne, the prospect of reviewing a rugby videogame isn’t especially enticing. Sure, we love our sport down here, and we embrace anything that wears the yellow and gold (or purple…), but the sport has never really found a place among the city’s obsession with Australian Rules Football. That said, the sport has been relatively well represented on the videogame front, and this year’s Wallabies Rugby Challenge is no different. It might have its fair share of graphical glitches, and team management is a bit awry, but the gameplay offers a well-balanced rugby experience that should please fans of the sport.

What Wallabies Rugby Challenge Got Right

Plenty of Challenge – Despite the inclusion of sliders, which allow you to alter the effectiveness of your chosen team in certain areas, teams play differently from one another and relatively on par with how we might expect them to actually play. Australia is also going to be dominant against Italy, for example, while going up against the All Black’s is probably going to equate to plenty of face palm’s from the Aussies. Rugby Challenge does a great job of keeping the teams balanced despite the ability to alter their effectiveness, and this alludes to a well-implemented AI system that counters the skill of your team.

Co-op is a blast – Rugby Challenge offers a great multiplayer experience, be it competitive or cooperative. The difficulty stays relatively the same from single-player, if a little more challenging, while the atmosphere and tension of the stadiums add a competitive flair that isn’t quite as influential when playing the game alone. This truly is a title that thrives when playing with friends, thanks to its stern difficulty and great cooperative play.

Sliders give you freedom – I’ve loved the inclusion of sliders in sports games ever since EA Sports introduced them in NBA Live 2003. The good thing in this instance is that leaving the settings on default doesn’t equate to an arcade-style game, as was one of the main problems with the system in the NBA Live series (and one of its ultimate downfalls). If you play a game using the default settings, you’ll find a game that is accurately representative of the team’s in the match. You also have the capacity to make the game slower and rougher, or sleeker and faster, which equates to increasingly challenging defense and offense respectively.

Different competitions and modes – While the career mode is fairly barebones, there is plenty in terms of competitions and modes to keep fans of the oval-shaped ball entertained for a few months. This is great, and even though career mode could do with a makeover, you can easily jump into a new tournament with a friend and play from start to finish. These modes might lack the depth one would expect in a career or franchise mode, but they’re at least included, which must be applauded.

What Wallabies Rugby Challenge Got Wrong

Glitches aplenty – The game’s biggest downfall is its glitches, although these instances do little to actually compromise the gameplay experience. The ball might bounce awkwardly and then unrealistically snap back into place, and scrums move as though a truck is towing them. There is the occasional deal breaker when a ball handler might be able to seemingly run right through an opposing player, but this seems to have more of an affect on the gameplay when playing on the easier setting, as AI defense isn’t especially tight or refined, making for an easier Try.

No licenses – One of the game’s biggest letdowns is its lack of official licenses. The South African Super Rugby franchises are made up of created players, although you can create and alter players using the game’s customization feature, so if you have the time you can definitely turn Rugby Challenge into the official rugby game you always wanted.

The Final Verdict

Wallabies Rugby Challenge is not without its problems, but it does offer a challenging rugby video game experience. Glitches hurt it, as does the lack of official licenses, but the game’s great co-op and multiplayer experience, as well as its range of different modes and competitions, make it well worth it for fans of the sport.

Gameplay

7.0Not perfect, but the game offers a level of challenge that is indicative of the team you’re playing against. There is a well-balanced structure of difficulty the makes the game enjoyable, and alongside its variety of modes and competitions, make for a solid gaming experience.

Graphics

6.0Glitches ruin the game in this department, although the tense atmosphere of the stadiums often add a sense of excitement, especially for cooperative or competitive matches.

Sound

6.5A decent soundtrack brought down by awful and repetitive commentary.

Value

8.0A number of competitions and modes, great customization options and fun multiplayer make Wallabies Rugby Challenge a worthy purchase for fanatics of the oval-shaped ball.

Overall

7.0A worthy rugby game for anyone north of Victoria.

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