Rugby 15 review

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This is a golden age of sports games. Electronic Arts and 2K, among others, churn out iterative titles every summer, make a quick buck and can get away with it because these titles are really rather good.

Rugby union doesn’t tend to get the same treatment. Since 2007, many fans have been clinging on to EA’s last title, Rugby 08, which was itself no more than a re-skinned Rugby 06. It wasn’t exceptional by any means, but ‘fans’ grew to love its glitches, disrespect for the rules and overpowered Irish centres.

HB Studios, EA’s contracted studio, brought the sport to the next generation in 2011, cashing in on the World Cup hype with, you guessed it, a shinier Rugby 08. Sidhe had a crack with a pair of Rugby Challenge titles which proved scarce and new players found it difficult to adapt to the perplexing controls, yet I found it far superior once you adapted. Still far from perfect, but closer than beforehand.

When news broke early last year that HB would be bringing a new Bigben-published title, Rugby 15, to market, I was tentatively excited. Yes, it would likely be Rugby 06 for the fourth time, but licensed sides and blanket release on major consoles would surely make up for it.

I became highly suspicious the month of release came and, with nary a gameplay video, the game was delayed in the UK (until its release on these shores today). So, like any rational person, I splashed out €45 to get it imported from France a few months ago. All in the name of journalism, of course, my dear reader. I would do anything for you. Even this.

Sadly for my wallet, it’s atrocious. Playing my first game against a longtime nemesis and worthy competitor at rugby games old and new, we both unleashed fits of laughter when the game kicked off.

Animations are deranged and woefully few. Controls are deranged, with the right trigger responsible for passes in all directions. Even the licenses have been mangled, with Irish lynchpin Jonny Sexton carrying a lower overall rating than unknown Harlequins benchwarmers.

Rugby 15’s defining moment came in a clash between Toulon and Clermont Auvergne. Whilst pitying my opponent and clinging onto what little desire I maintained to survive, I crossed the try line and intentionally flicked the ball wide to winger Julien Malzieu, standing off the pitch, who then leapt back across the line, grounding the ball at my command. Correctly, the game awarded Toulon a 22 metre dropout, but not before awarding Malzieu’s Clermont the 5 most invalid points they’ll ever collect, virtual or not.

If you care for the sport of rugby or its video game realisations one iota, please avoid this game. Just pick up a copy of Rugby Challenge 2 and get to grips with its quirks. For now, I’m stuck trying to figure out how to recoup my Euros.

Rugby 15 is released today in the UK. It is awful.

Flappy Bird or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bird

Flappy Bird
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Mobile gaming is a wonderful thing. While it once took a 10 tonne console to escape to another world, where one would typically find a selection of guns, aliens and Italian plumbers, we can now use conveniently portable devices to take us away from our troubles instead. Or allow green pipes to cause even more.

Flappy Bird was the latest avian title to land in our pockets and find surprisingly astronomical success, with a deceptively simple premise and mechanics. A single tap performs a single flap of the wings of a small bird that looks like Kirby with Jay-Z’s lips which, although officially nameless, I affectionately call Flapster.

But why did a game made by a Vietnamese indie developer in a few evenings after work that launched in May 2013 become the most popular mobile game of 2014? The answer lies deep within the struggles of our lives.

Mario uses his raw plumbing tekkers to open wormholes and transcend dimensions with green pipes, but Flappy Bird and its nameless protagonist present a whole new facade to these former allies. He’s not a trained worker. He’s a bird. Pipes are enemies, and serve solely to crush his hopes and dreams with a brutal splat. Should our friend succeed and pass beyond the blockade, life throws up yet another challenge before his eventual death.

Attaching no name or back story to the bird lets us project our own emotions and struggles onto its journey. Life, like Flappy Bird, is not fair. To stand any chance of reaching double figures and cross the obstacles in our paths, we must stay focused and tap carefully. Yes, we may fly face-first into a pipe now and then, but we won’t give up. We will keep tapping. Tapping towards freedom.

Now, as creator Dong Nguyen, with $50k a day in his pocket, withdraws the app from stores and himself from the limelight, lil’ Flapster flies off into the sunset (via a few green pipes, naturally). All we have left are fond memories of the winter of the bird, who taught us it was alright to fail, as long as we got straight back up to seek the bing, and the hours we lost in our quest for a high five.

First Xbox Live game for both Windows Phone and Windows 8 quietly released

galactic_reign
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galactic_reign2When Windows Phone 8 was released way back in October last year, much was made of the relationship prospective Windows Phone 8 purchasers would have between their mobile and their PCs. Since then, nothing much to that side of things has materialised, but yesterday that all changed.

Galactic Reign was teased by Microsoft last October, but there was no mention of platforms, nor was there a release date, but yesterday the game quietly slipped into both the Windows 8 Store and the Windows Phone Store as an Xbox Live title. Microsoft used to always announce upcoming Windows Phone games well in advance, but they haven’t done so much of that recently, and it seems crazy that such a huge milestone for the OS was released with so little fanfare, but hey, at least it’s here now.

galactic_reign3As you might have guessed from its name, the game is a sci-fi strategy number. You have to find the right balance between spaceships and weapons and hope your fleet is good enough to beat your opponents, and we won’t go into too much detail here, but there’s a single player mode with 60 challenges and a multiplayer side of things where you battle people online. There a bunch of Xbox achievements to aim for as well.

It’s great to finally see a game which bridges the Windows Phone 8/ Windows 8 divide. With the multiplayer game, you can play with different hardware to your opponent, i.e. it doesn’t matter whether you use a PC, Windows Phone or Surface. Galactic reign will cost $4.99 for Windows 8 or for Windows Phone 7 and 8. The best bit of all? You only need to purchase one version to have access to it on both platforms.

Source: Windows Phone Central

Sony PlayStation 4 launch liveblog: Sony shows the controller and a bunch of games but no actual PlayStation

Screenshot 2013-02-20 at 22.10.26
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Screenshot 2013-02-20 at 22.10.26

Tonight is the night that we’ve all been waiting for since E3 2005. At an event in New York tonight, Sony is set to present ‘the future of PlayStation’ to an audience of the games press, and we all know what that means.

4.

Grab your bingo cards and join me as I furiously scribble down all the news and go into a PlayStation-induced trance on my keyboard from 11pm tonight, and prepare for the next generation of gaming.


Click here for our liveblog – live!