Genre: Sport Developer: Publisher: Classification: G Release Date: 11th Oct 2012 Platforms:
Average of 7 Ratings
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For a long time the Rugby League games haven't even played in the same division as the other sports games on the market. Hell, with Rugby League Live they weren't even playing in an organised capacity at all. It comes as a bit of a shock to see Rugby League Live 2 actually playing with the big boys then.
I say it's playing, but it's in much the same way that the Gold Coast Suns or Greater Western Sydney have both stepped into the Wooden Spoon position in their inaugural debuts. It's still not good - but at least it's trying, dammit.
Almost every complaint I had about the first game has been fixed - and they left the one area they excelled in alone. Passing is still assigned to your LB and RB buttons, and you can perform a cut-out pass by holding either button and pressing the B, Y, or X button corresponding with a player. You can now perform a flat cut-out pass by double tapping those buttons, but they almost always result in an interception, and I leave them the hell alone as a result.
Elsewhere they've made significant improvements. The timing on the animations has been tightened significantly, which means you no longer see Dragon Ball Z style warping tackles - a marked improvement. Playing the ball has a bit of pace to it and scrums stay locked in a little after the ball feeds out the back so you don't have the six biggest blokes on the field all a half-metre away from you all milling about doing nothing.
The controls have actually had some thought put into them now. Sprinting is assigned to its very own button - the R trigger - which means that on offence you can sprint and stiff-arm at the same time and on defence you can make a last minute diving tackle without goofing around with the buttons.
Tackles are improved as well - gone is the Head High button of the previous game. You have an arm-pinning tackle assigned to your B button, a low tackle on your A button and a last ditch dive on Y. A and B are your main two attacks here, and each has an advantage. The low tackle is safer option - they're harder to evade - but if you don't get a second tackler in it leaves your opponent free to offload the ball. The arm-pin won't let anyone offload, but it's a bit easy to dodge or stiff-arm through.
Another interesting addition is the ability to hold down players during tackles - if you hold B while the player is on the ground you can give your team a chance to get onside. I think it's a really great idea, and it certainly adds a layer of strategy to the game (a thin one, but it's there), but I feel like the referee sometimes gives you too long to lie on top of your opponent. Not a gamebreaker, but a bit of an inconsistency.
The stiff arm and the dodge are a bit hit and miss. Let's just savour that sentence for an hour or two.
Anyway, one of my chief complaints about RLL was the lack of a proper league system - I can happily tell you that RLL2 brings you the ability to play through a career managing your favourite teams - and that includes everyone from club side through to rep teams like the Indigenous All Stars, the Kangaroos and the mighty Maroons. It's a surprisingly robust management system reminiscent in ways of Sidhe's effort in Rugby League 3, and while it doesn't offer anywhere near as much depth as say FIFA or the NBA 2K series, it's still an okay way to get some game time in when your friends won't join you.
Online the game is... rough. There's a fair bit of lag which resulted in me getting more than my fair share of held tackle penalties, and it's amazing to see that players have already worked out how to exploit the AI at kick-offs to get the ball back with alarming regularity. When you work out how this trick works (it's pretty simple) it's something you can exploit in the single player game as well.
The game has some roughness in other areas as well. It's not very pretty - you can definitely tell who is who, but when the game is in motion it can get a bit tough to know who you're passing to. I'm not hard-up on graphics anyway, so this is only a minor detraction.
I don't think I'll ever get used the way the camera changes with possession. The default camera shot is behind the play of the ball - somewhat logical, as the direction is controlled relative to the position of the camera. This necessitates a camera change when the other team gets the ball - and this is not handled smoothly at all. If you're moving left when an interception occurs you'll find yourself suddenly moving right (usually away from the person who intercepted the ball).
This is mitigated to some extent by the fact that you can change the camera to a side view reminiscent of Jonah Lomu Rugby (the Codemasters classic, not to be confused with last year's Rugby Challenge) - but this isn't ideal. In my experience playing in this view was quite buggy - the cut-out pass icons were misplaced and there was input lag when trying to pass the ball. I would recommend this viewpoint become the primary focus of the team for RLL3 - this would help the game's playability immensely.
My biggest issue with the game is actually quite subjective, but I feel like it lacks personality. Thanks to the canned animations the game never really conveys the essence of a real Rugby League match - players are simply either tackled or... not tackled. There's quite a bit going on in the background that the player doesn't see that decides between this, but it's all a bit moot, as numbers don't make the game.
It's reminiscent of the complaint PES players used to (justifiably) make about the FIFA series - that the ball and the player didn't ever seem like independent objects, and the game felt canned as a result. There's no chance of diving in underneath ball to attempt to disrupt a try, and the idea of intercepting a pass relies more on the canned animations and being in the right place at the right time than anything else.
If you think about FIFA, the game now conveys the effortless playstyle of Lio Messi with ease thanks to the interaction between the player and the ball. In Madden you have gang tackles, where three, or four, or five guys might all join in to put a guy down because the play calls for an emphatic finish. Watching Kobe drop a clutch three in 2K13 is either brilliant or crushing depending on whether he's on your team or not - but the point is, these things elicit emotion.
The closest you've got in RLL2 is watching Billy "The Terminator" Slater stomp through everyone on his way to another 90m try. The reliance on stats to create player interactions means that normally you're watching dice roll in the form of Rugby League action - except when Billy has the ball, where the stats weigh in his favour and you'd need to bite off more than his ear to stop him from trucking down for another try.
Other little things, like inconsistencies in the application of the ruleset, bug me endlessly. I've witnessed a number of forward passes that were allowed, and at the same time I've seen quite a few flat passes ruled forward.
The commentary is pretty light - you'll quickly hear lines repeated - and I'd like to think that it's more than just the Queenslander in me who has a problem with Phil Gould's work on the game. Twice in one game he referenced Elvis Presley saying "There's no place like home" and I honest to god have no idea why. It seemed to be just his attempt to fill dead air and discount The Wizard of Oz.
Let's face it - there's oodles of room for improvement available to the Big Ant for Rugby League Live 3, but they've improved leagues over the previous game. If they continue to build off this somewhat stable foundation there's hope for a future where we might get a good or great Rugby League game. Make no mistake - Rugby League Live 2 isn't a good game. But it is competent. And if the promise of competent - not good - play combined with basic knowledge of rugby league rules is enough for you, enjoy cheering for the cockroaches next Origin. Oh, and crack out your $100 - Rugby League Live 2 is the game for you.
There is no such thing as "offence" in Rugby League. There is attack and there is defence (which, incidentally is not pronounced DE-fense, it's de-FENCE). Curse the crass Americanisation of the greatest football on Earth.
Thanks for the tip regarding the switch perspective option. It does come with one major drawback though: it's great on intercepts, but terrible on kick returns.
You should try Rugby Challenge, it's quite a bit of fun and fairly fluid, but it does have a serious issue with offloading and its tackling is a little shallow.
Speaking of other Rugby games, I can't understand why neither Sidhe nor BigAnt have copied HB Studios Rugby 08's offloading system. If you're not familiar with it, basically it works by having the (x) button pop up when you're tackled low as a sort of quick time event that allows you to pop a pass briefly. It's so much more effective and realistic, and makes second phase play really tactically important.
But on your point that you don't think "it's a consumer's obligation to [League's small market size] into account when purchasing a game," I would counter that ultimately when you're a League fan it doesn't really matter how good FIFA might be, because if you don't like soccer (and I personally find it boring as bats#!t) then a League game will always be "worth" more.
After all, the production values and creativity in the new bioshock title are far beyond the yearly roster updates and minor tweaks of most EA sports titles, yet they will both cost the same amount as well. The point is that if you want an EA soccer title, you won't care that you could also get a copy of an original and innovative game with high production values like Bioshock 3 for the same price as a new edition of FIFA that is effectively an update patch on an edition you may already own - you'll buy it anyway.
@sanzar Thanks. I didn't get a chance to try Rugby Challenge, so I don't have it as a point of reference, but I have heard good things.
One thing you might find a tiny bit helpful is changing the view settings so that it won't switch perspectives until a tackle occurs. This mitigates the most heinous problem in the long view of the field - though ultimately I prefer the side on view and I'll probably stick with that.
It's tough, because clearly scale offers games like NBA and FIFA the opportunity to go much, much bigger than the Rugby codes - but I don't think it's a consumer's obligation to take that into account when purchasing a game.
With iterative progress I think Big Ant can turn the RLL series into something pretty decent, but the fact that they're now moving into Cricket doesn't fill me with a lot of hope.
@hreynolds57 - It's kinda our job to take it a bit seriously, right :) I think that if the RLL games don't want to be measured against the big games from EA and NBA, they shouldn't be priced more than them. I would treat them like the budget games they are if they were sold at a budget price!
Awesome fun. You guys think about it too much and look for issues instead of playing the game and focusing on what enjoyment the game can provide for you.
You can't expect too much from a company (Big Ant) that you've never really heard of until this game came out. Your not suppose to be comparing with FIFA, Madden etc. They're in a completed different class of games. Compare it with the past Rugby League games.
I just picked this up yesterday and agree with a number of your issues with the game, but I also feel I really haven't had sufficient time with it yet to make any blanket judgements.
So far I've played a few games on rookie and I am quite enjoying it, but it's definitely harder to just pick up and play than Sidhe's Rugby Challenge, which given both are published by TruBlu I can't help comparing it to.
Rugby Challenge has a number of issues too, but it is quite fluid in its game play and very easy to just get straight into. RLL2 by comparison feels much more technical and tight and also looks a little more raw farther out. However, I'm actually already appreciating this as a rather good thing.
It may be still too early to make this call, but so far it feels to me the RLL2 is closer to a simulation game, whilst RC is far more arcade oriented. The inclusion of effectively four different tackles, defensive set-ups and a more realistic offload system makes the game feel much more like a real life-game of League than RC creates of Union. For, as fun as RC is, it lacks serious depth in gameplay and the offloading system is just silly (so for HB have done this the best).
Moreover, the passing system in RLL2 is also deeper and more realistic as there is a genuine pay-off and risk to playing a flat game, as intercepts are quite natural in their execution (whereas in RC they were basically impossible to pull off and resulted in very clunky play).
I do agree with you on the camera angles though. This is something Sidhe started and has never really been properly dealt with. I personally would like a better side-line option, but I'd also like a HB-like option to just have the camera stay on one side, so when I went for an intercept the thing just stayed put and didn't whip around and confuse my controls.
Graphically the game is a huge leap over it's very poor predecessor (though that wasn't setting the bar very high). However, I do have a few issues with it. In close the game looks beautiful, but the farther out the camera goes the more previous-gen the game starts to look. Perhaps its something to do with the grass textures being quite poor, but Rugby Challenge looks a lot nicer at a distance some how.
All in all though, I actually think this is a good game for what it is. I'd still like more time with it, but so far I'm quite enjoying it and feel that BigAnt have shown real promise. No, it's not a patch on games like NBA, FIFA or Madden, but they have market shares that allow its developers to spend millions building incredibly life-like systems. League is a niche sport comparatively, and so unless the NRL decide to invest a few mill to help with the sequel (something I've encouraged in the past - a great way to grow the sport in my view), then it's not really fair to compare RLL to its much richer sporting counterparts.
Given this, I'd give the game a weighted score of 7/10