All Blacks Rugby Challenge 2

In development pretty much since the release of its predecessor, Rugby Challenge 2 is a sequel in the mould of the IRB’s seasonal tinkering: no revolution, but it carries various adjustments to the rules here and there for the sake of balance and the enjoyability of the spectacle.

In fact, some of Sidhe’s changes simply reflect these IRB rule tweaks, keeping the game up to date with where rugby is today. For instance, there’s an extra spot on the bench now (even for the 2013 Super Rugby season, which in reality only allows the traditional seven reserves) and a time limit on using the ball from the back of the ruck. You can even hear the new scrum calls being used.

 
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Other changes to the on-field gameplay include a rebalancing of offloads in the tackle. Offloading is now a rather more risking option. It can still open the defensive lines up, but in the absence of a close support player, it’s much more likely to result in a loose ball and the possibility of a counter attack by the opposition. Sidhe identified the ridiculous success rate of offloads as common complaint from Rugby Challenge fans, but I like to think this change is also a way of showing that Sonny Bill has made his exit from rugby union.

Rugby Challenge 2 also offers new ways of organising your AI teammates. There’s no sudden change of direction from dynamic and fluid backlines to the rigid set moves of the HB Studios rugby games, but with new ‘user strategies’ you can do more advanced stuff with your offensive and defensive lines.

The game’s fluidity is enhanced by the new advantage rulings. Granted, the ref doesn’t always make the best calls (in particular, the calculations of when to come back for the penalty can be frustrating), but that’s part of the game of rugby. The key point is that the game keeps moving.

And move it does. Despite building the role of the forwards and attempting to muscle up on defence, Rugby Challenge 2, like its predecessor, is at its heart a back’s game. It plays the fast paced ‘running rugby’ of the All Blacks and Wallabies ...and with the South African teams still being a notable absence - who cares about their traditional playing style anyway, right?

There’s also been some fine-tuning in the rucks. The basic mechanic of quick and heavy binding remains, but if you sense the battle is lost, you can now make a decision to unbind players and get them back into the defensive line (provided you’re quick enough). For fans of our man Richie, there’s more scope to push your luck at the breakdown with some ‘creativity’, too. But be careful: the penalties will flow thick and fast.

Just like the IRB, Sidhe and HES are also trying to expand into new territories. It is no secret that the big trophy licence this time around is for the British and Irish Lions. And this is more than just an added team. The 2013 Lions Tour mode takes you through this year’s test series of Australia plus the warm up and mid-week matches against Aussie Super Rugby Franchises, the Barbarians, and a Combined NSW and Queensland Country XV (all licenced). It’s fantastic to see the whole tour and not just the three match series. However, a mark against this area of the game for me is that, while you get control of the match-day line-up, you can’t actually select the 37-man touring squad yourself (so there’s no chance to switch out Owen Farrell for steady boot Jonny Wilkinson).


As well as the Lions, I’m excited to see a big push toward the French market. The inclusion of the Pro D2 (French second-division) in addition to the Top 14 shows that there’s a serious interest in France (which could possibly turn one of the fiscal powerhouses of the real sport into a game-changing market for digital rugby). There’s even French commentary, featuring former ‘Bleu’ Thomas Lombard and sports journalist Éric Bayle, which I think I prefer to hearing Grant Nisbett and Justin Marshall all over again.

Unfortunately, it looks as though there might not be any other new licenses this time around (aside from doubling the number of world stadiums). Sidhe weren’t able to confirm or deny, but it looks like the constituent nations of the Lions haven’t been nabbed this time around, and neither have the French and Italian national sides. Rugby Challenge 3, maybe? In the meantime, the frustrating restrictions on customising national teams using the players licenced through their club sides (introduced in a patch for the first Rugby Challenge) appear to still be enforced.

Back and better than ever however, is the career mode. While it was nice just to get this at all in the first Rugby Challenge, the mode was not very well fleshed out. It had very limited transfer options and no budget-management or anything of that nature. In Rugby Challenge 2 though, you’ll be able to make offers to whichever players you like during the transfer window (although if you’re controlling a minor club, Dan Carter probably isn’t going to return your calls). You can really pretend you’re Toulon’s Mourad Boudjellal, putting together a team of veteran mercenaries... provided you can fit them all within your salary cap. And if your recruiting drive gets you nowhere, there’s a very real risk of getting fired.

Assigning monetary values to players will apparently also facilitate new options for online play, with players able to compete in a ‘fantasy rugby’-type competition: picking a dream team and then duking it out with other virtual coaches around the world.

There’s also some more peripheral improvements: more options in player customisation (particularly boot colours and the previously-lacking hairstyle options), new team customisation option, and a complete overhaul of the original game’s clunky squad management interface.

Is it enough? Well, I don’t think Rugby Challenge 2 is going to convert any of the first game’s haters. Love it or not, the core gameplay is still the same. But for those who enjoyed the first season of Rugby Challenge (and who in many cases would have been thrilled just to fork out for revised squads) there’s a lot to be happy about here. Not just in the expanded content, but also in the commitment to improving the overall experience of each match.


All Blacks Rugby Challenge 2
+ Additional features to the gameplay
- The commentary feels a bit same old, same old
"Sidhe have raised the bar."
- All Blacks Rugby Challenge 2
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Comments Comments (21)

 
FlatPitch
Posted by FlatPitch
On Saturday 11 May 2013 6:28 PM
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Who makes substitutions? Looks good though
 
 
 
Neori
Posted by Neori
On Saturday 11 May 2013 7:01 PM
2
Ahhhhh, career mode is sounding really really good.
 
 
 
BigC NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by BigC
On Saturday 11 May 2013 7:44 PM
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Wow this sounds so good. The videos that are being posted of the game play looks a lot better than the last game too.
 
 
 
KiwiSharp NZGamer.com VIP VIP Silver
Posted by KiwiSharp
On Saturday 11 May 2013 9:43 PM
1
Must have for me!
 
 
 
jords NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by jords
On Sunday 12 May 2013 10:32 AM
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ah sorry nothing looks different looks like a patch. Worth the new game price?
 
 
 
Deanology NZGamer.com VIP VIP Gold
Posted by Deanology
On Sunday 12 May 2013 12:59 PM
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I'll definitely try it out later down the track.
 
 
 
PE0PLEKN0WME NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by PE0PLEKN0WME
On Monday 13 May 2013 7:39 AM
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I am sceptical as to whether this game has improved yet I will still be sucked in enough to buy...
 
 
 
Sam NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by Sam
On Monday 13 May 2013 11:44 AM
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13 May 2013, 07:39 AM Reply to PE0PLEKN0WME
I am sceptical as to whether this game has improved yet I will still be sucked in enough to buy...
Good call I am thinking the same thing
 
 
 
scottybNZ
Posted by scottybNZ
On Monday 13 May 2013 5:33 PM
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I wonder what stadium they have for Christchurch in this game? Broken AMI or Temp AMI.
 
 
 
grieving NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by grieving
On Wednesday 15 May 2013 5:01 PM
1
Any graphical or animation updates?

Also any word on the online mode? It was shocking in the first one.
 
 
 
theillmatic1
Posted by theillmatic1
On Wednesday 15 May 2013 5:36 PM
1
I'll pick this up at some point, probably not straight away though.I like to support NZ studios, so hopefully it has improved enough to be worth buying
 
 
 
Jas NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by Jas
On Wednesday 15 May 2013 7:31 PM
2
just found this guys channel on YouTube that has gameplay footage and some videos with Q&A. http://www.youtube.com/user/NeoriHD/videos?view=0&flow=grid
 
 
 
Neori
Posted by Neori
On Friday 17 May 2013 4:35 PM
2
15 May 2013, 07:31 PM Reply to Jas
just found this guys channel on YouTube that has gameplay footage and some videos with Q&A. http://www.youtube.com/user/NeoriHD/videos?view=0&flow=grid
Yeah cheers mate :P
 
 
 
Jas NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by Jas
On Friday 17 May 2013 8:15 PM
1
17 May 2013, 04:35 PM Reply to Neori
Yeah cheers mate :P
lol is that ur youtube channel?
 
 
 
Neori
Posted by Neori
On Friday 17 May 2013 8:42 PM
1
17 May 2013, 08:15 PM Reply to Jas
lol is that ur youtube channel?
Yeah mate :D
 
 
 
Jas NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by Jas
On Saturday 18 May 2013 11:39 AM
1
17 May 2013, 08:42 PM Reply to Neori
Yeah mate :D
haha sweet, I subbed to you bro
 
 
 
LordV1tal
Posted by LordV1tal
On Wednesday 22 May 2013 4:30 AM
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Does anyone know if they changed the offloads?
 
 
 
maceotago NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by maceotago
On Saturday 25 May 2013 11:18 AM
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22 May 2013, 04:30 AM Reply to LordV1tal
Does anyone know if they changed the offloads?
Yeah I remember reading somewhere that they had toned that part of the game down.
 
 
 
PE0PLEKN0WME NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by PE0PLEKN0WME
On Saturday 25 May 2013 11:33 PM
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25 May 2013, 11:18 AM Reply to maceotago
Yeah I remember reading somewhere that they had toned that part of the game down.
lets hope so!
 
 
 
Gonzala NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by Gonzala
On Monday 10 Jun 2013 1:29 PM
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Must get this for my cousin... he's a rugby nut.
 
 
 
Morloc
Posted by Morloc
On Sunday 16 Jun 2013 7:06 PM
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Why haven't the makers of Rugby Challenge 2 thought outside of the box? I mean how cool would it be to try the game on a whole different platform. They could've at least try to make it work on the Wii U. How interesting would the game play be on the brand new console?