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World Championship Rugby PC Official Website

Published by Acclaim
Developed by Swordfish Studios
Released - 30th April 2004
Price : £29.99

Only last week we looked at World Championship Rugby for the PlayStation 2. After a very long time of not having a game to enjoy rugby fans who own a Xbox or PlayStation 2 now have a game they can be truly proud of. A PC version of World Championship Rugby is also to be released on the 30th April 2004 and we've been very fortunate to be able to get our hands on the game and put it through it's paces. Not since the PC version of Jonah Lomu Rugby have PC gamers had a truly great rugby game to enjoy but on the 30th April 2004 that will all end.

In terms of features the game is identical to the console versions. It's all about international rugby. There are 20 teams in all and they are Argentina, Australia, Canada, England, Fiji, France, Georgia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Namibia, New Zealand, Romania, Samoa, Scotland, South Africa, Tonga, USA, Uruguay and Wales. Only the Welsh and English teams have the correct player names but once again a name editor has been included (it can be found in the options menu) and this will allow you to correct all the player names.

You can play either a friendly, competition or challenge game. The competitions on offer are World Championship, Euro Nations, Three Nations, Tour, League and Cup. The Euro Nations cup is made up of England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales. The Three Nations consists of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Tours can be organised for Europe, Africa, Oceania or America. Leagues can be organised and can consist of up to 8 teams. Similarly Cups can be organised and can consist of 16 teams. There are various challenge modes on offer too. Classic Matches puts you in a famous match and gives you an objective to achieve. There is also the self-explanatory Beat the All-Stars mode and finally there is a survival mode where you have to win as many games in succession as you can (thankfully you can save in between the matches). Matches can be either 3, 5, 7, 10 or 15 minutes in length and you can set penalties to on or off. Each team is rated between 1 to 5 stars and in addition there are three levels of difficult which are fun, normal and the hugely challenging intensive care difficulty mode.

In terms of game play World Championship Rugby presses all the right buttons. The passing, the kicking, the tackling, rucks, mauls and scrums all feel right and it adds up to one heck of an addictive experience. Initially the controls will take some mastering and it can be tricky to string passes together and the fact that there is no tutorial does little to ease you into the game. Picking a strong team and playing against a weak team will allow you to get a feel for the game at a comfortable pace. Once you are accustomed to the game though you're in for a treat. The movement of the players looks good and a lot more realistic than in previous games. You can even perform dummies and sidesteps and once again they look good. You'll be pleased to learn that the game allows you to configure the keyboard, or controller of your choice, so you'll be able to customise the controls to suit yourself which is all you can ask.

Graphically the PC version looks a little sharper than the console versions (this is to be expected because of the higher resolutions that the game can be run in) but otherwise it's exactly the same. Anti-aliasing can also be enabled in the display options and it can make the graphics look even sharper still. In the advanced graphics options 3D grass can be enabled. I did this with a Radeon 9800 Pro (Catalyst drivers 4.3) and the frame rate dived to an unplayable level. I don't know whether this feature has been optimised for Nvidia cards but it's not worth trying on a Radeon based card. This is not a problem as to be honest it doesn't really improve the look of the grass anyway. The player models have a slightly exaggerated look to them, in the same way as the console versions had, and I for one actually prefer this instead of trying to make the players look life like. Also like the console versions the crowd are animated and vibrant instead of the cardboard cutout efforts we've seen so often. The ball movement seems realistic enough. Performing a grubber kick will show you how hard Swordfish Studios have worked to keep the ball physics as realistic as possible. There are only a handful of stadia of which only Twickenham isn't fictitious. It doesn't really matter though as they all look good.

World Championship Rugby for the PC is absolutely fine for deaf gamers. The only speech in the game is the match commentary and although this isn't subtitled it's not really a big loss as it is rather repetitive. You are notified in text when fouls have been committed such as forward passes and any choices that have to made, such as the size of the line-out, are all given in text so there are no problems at all. The PC version we have is the retail version so we have been able to look at the game manual. The manual is 20 pages in length, which is quite brief but it does a good job of explaining the various game play concepts. It tells you what to do in rucks, mauls, scrums and lineouts. It also gives you the low down on kicking, passing, player switching and scoring tries. Expert moves such as side-steps, hand-offs and drop goals are also covered. In fact even a rugby novice could happily buy the game and fully enjoy it within no time at all because of how accessible both the game and manual are.

There's no doubt then that what we have here is the true sequel to the Jonah Lomu Rugby and most definitely the best rugby game to have ever graced the PC. It's not perfect though. Personally I would have like more official stadia, club sides and online and LAN play but, and this is what's really important, the game play is top stuff and rugby fans at last have a game to be proud off. As we said in closing our review for the PlayStation 2 version of the game the game is great but there is potential here for series of games. Football fans have the Pro Evolution Soccer series and rugby fans now have their benchmark title with World Championship Rugby.

Overall Game Rating: 8.7/10
At last a great PC rugby game. A very impressive game rugby that has room for improvement and additions but nevertheless it's an early contender for sports game of the year.

Deaf Gamers comment:
The match commentary isn't subtitled but other than that there are no problems.