The lack of licenses for International sides and the South African Super Rugby franchises is unfortunate. But the game's customisation possibilities mean that if you're willing to put in the hard yards - by renaming teams and sourcing real players from the licensed clubs - you can pretty much overcome these drawbacks. Even the flag-based faux national kits can be exchanged for an array of custom outfits that are close enough to the real thing (though obviously unbranded).
Rugby Challenge is not without its problems. But there is depth behind its flashy veneer. Perhaps most importantly, there doesn't seem to be anything that ruins the game by overbalancing it. It embraces different playing styles, and rewards learning the skills associated with each. As I hope the All Blacks will in the coming weeks, Rugby Challenge plays with passion and does its best to impress with slick moves - but it also isn't afraid to 'win ugly'.
FIFA 11 and Rugby Challenge have a lot of similarities which leads us to think that Sidhe has probably copied everything from FIFA 11 and inserted it into their own game and renamed it Rugby Challenge. This may be a good thing though, as the graphics are brilliantly constructed and leave rugby fans in awe.
The world's most famous teams all feature in this edition of rugby for the PlayStation 3. Australia and New Zealand are there as well as America. All of England's rugby teams feature, Wales, Ireland, Scotland which makes Rugby Challenge a comprehensive rugby game that all enthusiasts will love. Unfortunately, South African teams are left out of the licensing and fans will have to make do with faceless players and make-believe. Fortunately, you get to play all the major rugby games in the world. A feature that was absent in the recently released Rugby World Cup 2011.
The best option for the game is career mode and you are in charge of a country or rugby club and you have that job for 13 glorious seasons, to dummy and side-step to your heart's content. Kicking and running on the field are very similar to real life situations and there are four different kick variations you can perform with the control stick. Passing is easy to accomplish using the control stick. You should quickly master the controls without too many hick-ups. You can easily push and pull in the scrums. If you need help there is a comprehensive tutorial included and also a slow motion rules video, so even if you haven't played rugby before, it's easy to get going. You can build your own teams, buy and swap players from the different clubs and even create your own.
Although the licensing issue hampers the representation of South African teams, you can create your own players and name them as you wish. The downside is that you don't see characters with familiar faces running around on the field, but all the other major countries are fairly represented so this isn't the end of the world for rugby fans. In Rugby World Cup 2011 South African teams are also not licensed and you are severely limited in creating your own players. At least in Rugby Challenge you can build your own players from scratch or buy from other teams and insert the players into your own team.
Rugby Challenge does suffer from a few flaws though. There aren't any flashy moves on the field, or brilliant sidesteps you can perform to dazzle the crowds. All the moves are standard basic rugby tactics. If you are new to the game of rugby it won't matter, but fans who live and eat rugby will be disappointed. The commentators lack enthusiasm and their voices are without any emotion or feeling that drives the listener wild. If you've listened to a rugby game on radio or TV you will know what I'm talking about. The commentator fires you up with his fiery language and passion for the game. Much of the drama is lost with their lackluster performance.
On the field Rugby Challenge is exciting and full of action. The animations and facial expressions of the players are life-like and pump you full of adrenaline. You will have a ball of a time with this game.