Game Review: Jonah Lomu Rugby Challenge

 
 

Title: Jonah Lomu Rugby Challenge

Developer: Sidhe

Publisher: Tru Blu Entertainment

Platforms: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, Playstation Vita

Release Date: Out Now

Rating: 4/5

Expertly placed for a European release just as the Rugby World Cup furore has completely died down, Jonah Lomu Rugby Challenge seeks to pick up where the dreadful Rugby World Cup 2011 left off, and to save rugby games the world over from continued mediocrity. Thankfully, much like its Playstation 1 namesake, Jonah Lomu Rugby Challenge raises the bar for videogame adaptations of the sport.

Rugby Challenge represents the perhaps the best virtual representation of the sport so far, the game mechanics masterfully incorporating the complexities of dummies, side-steps, hand offs, all variety of kicks and even grubbers to be chased frantically past the try line. The more esoteric aspects of the game, such as scrums, line-outs and breakdowns are handled, if not perfectly, infinitely better than the games’ primary competition.

Perhaps the simplest and most effective modification to the traditionally unchanged rugby game formula is the mechanics of kicking for goal, touch, punting or grubbing. The camera zooms in on the kicker, the wind direction becomes visible on the ground, and the entire game slows to a Max Payne style bullet-time. This slow motion reprieve allows you to perfectly judge your kick’s distance against the wind, and only ends when the ball is struck or the player is tackled. If the gameplay was to be faulted, it would be the fact that passing is occasionally a slapdash affair, particularly that crucial final pass out to a winger inside the opposition twenty-two – although, to be fair to Sidhe Studios, that may just be an attempt at an accurate representation of the Irish team’s current form.

Speaking of which, European players will be slightly miffed at the absence of an officially licensed Irish (or indeed, English, Welsh, Scottish or French) team, our Golden Generation unceremoniously replaced by random players with stock, and occasionally misspelt, Irish surnames. With the IRFU having granted their licence to the wildly inferior RWC2011, Irish fans can take solace by playing any of the four lovingly-recreated provincial sides, as well as the entire rosters from the ITM Cup, Super 15s, Aviva Premiership, Rabodirect Pro 12, and the French Top 14. Add to this a Career mode, immense team creation and customisation options, and the result is a game with a longevity that far surpasses any rugby title in recent memory. In short, a dynamic, robust and genuinely enjoyable title from the little studio that could.

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