From Electronic Arts:
Lead your team to victory in the fast-paced action of World Cup Rugby. Hone your skills in the Super 12 and European Domestic Leagues with an all-new control system that is intuitive and user friendly. You will be rucking, mauling, and kicking for touch like a champion in no time. An all-new game engine captures every bone-crunching tackle, scrum, and lineout. With new motion capture, animations, and character models, EA SPORTS Rugby 2004 offers the most in-your-face rugby experience ever.
Once you get the hang of this game, especially the keys you will find that Rugby 2004 is quite playable and enjoyful to use.
Many other reviews try and state a pause exists when trying to control the player. I haven't noticed this personally, the player always responds in a hasty fashion. At times it also seems the player will ignore your command to pass if there is no player to pass to. This has samed me from losing the ball a number of times.
All the teams, players and most of the major tournaments exist. The game also tracks which tournaments are played and also keep track of special challenges which the player can try to achieve (ie. Completely win against New Zealand or get a try after 7 passes etc).
After three days of decent playing I have found the A.I. challenging but not difficult to play against in NORMAL mode. I can only guess how simple it would be in EASY. I am not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing but it is a bonus for new players to the game.
The detail of each stadium is well designed and does add excitement to the game. The weather also brings in a new variable and even air temperature. Though its effect on playability don't seem too noticable.
The control keys aren't immediatly intuitive and do require a bit of experimentation. Also within the training pitch no instructions or even suggestions exist to atleast assist any new player of the game.
Player models motion seems to mechanic, there isn't the fludity of movement between each action.
On field kicks and punts are hindered by a bad camera angle which places the kicking angle at the left part of the screen.
The spectators look like virtual moving card-board cut outs but the most absurd thing is even if the majority of the crowd is booing at the players they are always clapping in excitement.
Overall I have found this game playable and quite exciting but found it wasn't too easy to learn and required a lot from the user to figure out on their own. The graphics isn't perfect and doesn't seem like a 21st century product.
Though designed by Americans for Americans this game is trying to simulate Rugby and unfortunately I don't believe this product is a suitable candidate to promote the adrenaline pumping mind numbing elements of Rugby to an audience without much knowledge or experience with the game.
Rugby 2005 is out now. Hopefully that edition has more to offer for beginners.