Rugby League 3

Rugby League 3 is a much better game than both of its predecessors but still suffers from poor controls, outdated playing rosters and erratic game play.

Sidhe Interactive Rugby League 3
  • Sidhe Interactive Rugby League 3
  • Sidhe Interactive Rugby League 3
  • Sidhe Interactive Rugby League 3
  • Expert Rating

    2.75 / 5

Pros

  • 80 teams, AI is often smart and crafty, in-game tactics, nominated kicker and playmakers, franchise mode

Cons

  • Poor graphics, game play lacks fluidity, tackling animations are unnatural and repetitive, controls are mediocre without GameCube controller, 2009 rosters

Bottom Line

Die-hard Rugby League fans will enjoy this game, but everyone else will deride Rugby League 3's poor graphics, hit-and-miss controls and erratic game play. The franchise mode's improvements will keep fans busy and the in-game tactics add to the overall appeal, but gamers will often be left frustrated by the robotic game play.

Would you buy this?

It's been almost 15 years since there was a Rugby League game worth playing — ARL 96 on PC. For long suffering league fans, Sidhe's Rugby League and Rugby League 2 promised the world, but ultimately delivered very little. Sidhe's back with Rugby League 3, which again promises a fun and innovative league video game. It's a much better game than both of its predecessors but still suffers from poor controls, outdated playing rosters and erratic gameplay.

Exclusive to the Nintendo Wii, Rugby League 3 includes a whopping 80 teams. In addition to NRL sides, it also includes all English Super League teams, as well as New Zealand domestic league teams, the full Toyota Cup (U20s), national teams (including Trans-Tasman tests and World Cups) and even State of Origin and City vs Country sides. Unfortunately, these sides have 2009 playing rosters, so new player moves in the current 2010 season aren't reflected. Thankfully, you can edit your teams, transfer players and even create new players from scratch.

Rugby League 3 offers you the chance to coach or play, but it's the latter that is the heart of this game. As it's a Wii title, there are three controller options — you can use the Wii Remote, the Wii Remote and Nunchuk or a GameCube controller. The Wii Remote involves you holding the controller sideways and flicking the remote left or right to pass, while adding the nunchuk allows you to move players with the analog stick. Both of these control methods are poor at best. We found it almost impossible to accurately move players with the D-pad and passing inaccurate and erratic with the Wii's limited motion sensing capabilities. If you decide to purchase this game, do yourself a huge favour and buy a GameCube controller — you can move players with an analog stick, pass left to right with shoulder buttons (long press for long pass and short click for short pass) and other aspects of the game (such as kicking, sprinting and tackling) are all much easier to execute.

It’s a shame Rugby League 3 is only available on the Wii, as the graphics look mediocre compared next to the latest Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 titles. While we understand Sidhe is a relatively small game developer compared to giants like EA (so we're not expecting this game to look like FIFA 10), we still think the graphics could be much improved — even if the Wii isn't the sort of games console that demands great visuals.

Game play is admittedly much improved compared to its predecessors, even if the game engine feels similar. A huge improvement is the AI — opposition teams will try chip kicks, 40/20s, field goals, cut out passes, and even run the ball on the fifth tackle, so it’s a much more challenging game to play. A nice feature is the inclusion of in-game tactics, with four attacking and four defensive strategies. Attack strategies include kick (dropping your kicker five metres back to give him more time to place an attacking kick in play), full line (brings your fullback into the attacking line), attack deep (sets your attacking line deep to try and create an overlap) and field goal (drops your kicker even deep to line up an attempted field goal). Defensive strategies include dropping your wingers and fullback back to defend a kick, full line, cover defence and aggressive. Selecting these strategies involves cycling through them one by one though, so it's not the quickest or most innovative control solution.

Another new feature is icons displayed at the bottom of certain players — a shield means this player has good tackling and tackle break ability, wings represents a speedster while a football denotes your nominated playmaker and kicker in general play.

Unfortunately, like its predecessors, Rugby League 3 often feels unnatural as the motion and smoothness is just not there. The lack of consistency is a huge problem — often you'll want a short pass trying to put someone through a gap, instead you get a longer pass to a forward. When you want a long pass flying on the chest of an outside back, it often lands to a prop that is standing still. There are also quite a few bugs in the game, including an annoying habit of players lying motionless on the ground for two or three seconds in a tackle before the dummy half quickly comes running in just in time to collect the ball. All in all, the game play often feels robotic and flat and the tackling animations in particular are repetitive and unnatural.

There are a number of game play modes in Rugby League 3, including single games, a full season competition and the much cherished franchise mode. The latter involves 12 seasons of competition where you can build your own squad, play or simulate games, buy and sell players and even be fired if your results aren't up to scratch. A virtual inbox lets you keep track of injuries and team news, while you'll have to deal with suspensions, keep track of the Dally M medal race and even try to break club records (such as top try scorer and most wins). We found that many player ratings are inconsistent, but you can edit these yourself if you wish.

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