Rugby World Cup 2015 is a game based on the sport of Rugby Union from HB Studios. Upon release, the game was not well received, and even now after the company has had a long time to patch and repair the issues, a lot of the criticisms still stand.

From the beginning, the title fails to impress. The tutorial screens are static and boring, and the controls are, while improved from previous incarnations, far from intuitive. Players do have the chance to learn the game in a practice mode, but they are left questioning the point of some of the modes and control options – why would one use the ‘free play’ mode when there is the option to play a friendly match which is much the same thing?

The developers do try to break up the monotony of the season with some focused training sessions. These, however, lack depth and they don’t really feel particularly satisfying. As with many other sports games, the AI is not particularly intelligent. They do try to do things, but it’s superficial. Anyone who is particularly enthusiastic about rugby will notice that they’re not particularly smart or following good rugby behaviour. You can tell the AI players to adhere to common formations, but offense and defense isn’t their strong point. You’ll find yourself getting frustrated with the AI’s behaviour quickly.

If you get tired of the video game and are looking for the real thing remember to make sure your DSTV installation is working and your membership is up to date, so that you can catch all the games live and recorded on Supersport.

Ball Handling

Let’s face it. The most satisfying thing in Rugby is scoring a try. Sadly, while it’s easy to score in this game it doesn’t feel responsive, and it doesn’t feel fluid. The animations are improved over previous incarnations, but after playing a few games you will notice that player encounters have their outcome calculated before the animation for the encounter finishes. This means that if you’re about to get tackled by a player on the opposing team, then controls will appear to lock up. It’s immersion breaking, and unforgivable in a game as modern as this.

The game suffers some nasty bugs, too. If you get tackled while in the scoring area then your controls may lock up so that your opponent cannot interact with you and you cannot move. There are workarounds, but they don’t always work and sometimes the only option is to reset the play.

World Cup Mode

The big draw for the game is the world cup mode. This mode is fun when the game is working as intended, but bugs and issues such as those listed above really hamper the experience. The improvements to the game from previous editions, such as the bug fixes in rucks, make it a little better than before. However, the ruck mini game offers two options; boringly easy, or borderline impossible .

There’s no online mode in the game. This means that you have the option of playing against AI opponents (frustrating, for many reasons) or playing with another human in local multiplayer. Online mode does not exist. Playing with another player is no less frustrating than playing against the AI, because so much of the game depends on luck or reaction time rather than on knowledge of rugby, tactics, or planning. Add-in a heavy-handed referee and you have a game that is more irritating than fun.

There are other rugby games that offer a much more satisfying experience. In many ways some of the management games are more enjoyable because they abstract the parts of this game that are poorly executed. If you’re looking for a more ‘hands on’ experience, then it makes sense to skip a few years, and hope that with time there will be enough tweaks and bug fixes to make this series playable.