World Class Rugby
Copyright/Publisher: Audiogenic/Denton Designs, Programmed By:
Roy Bannon, Graphics By: Ally Noble, Music By: Fred Gray,
Release Year: 1992, Genre: Rugby, Number Of Players: 1 or 2

I never did like rugby much. At school we were forced to play in freezing cold weather - there had to be at least six feet of snow before the PE teacher would even consider staying indoors. However, watching the World Cup on TV I started to appreciate the game's subtleties. Therefore the prospect of playing rugby without getting cold, muddy and bloody seemed very attractive.

World Class Rugby has a vast array of options and features. As well as the full World Cup tournament you can play friendlies or compete in an eight-team league and the facility to play friendlies. Any of the 16 teams can be human/computer-controlled and each has accurate home and away strips.

You can even swap round the players in the squad. Other options allow you to alter wind speed, pitch type (grassy, muddy or icy), computer skill level (0 to 8) and turn the offside rule on/off.

The match perspective is elevated and looking down the scrolling pitch. This is accurately sized with all the proper markings to indicate your position - also shown by a small radar scanner.

The player under your control has a large arrow over has head. If he's got the ball, he also has a small bar below him with a dot moving left/right - this is used for kicking, subtly affecting the ball's direction; holding down fire rapidly increases power.

As in real rugby, tactical kicking is an important aspect of the game. And there's even the rule that you can't kick the ball out on the full outside your own 22. (I guess you mean it's got all the weird rules - Ed.)

By pressing fire with left/right you can accurately pass to the best place teammate in that direction. Tackling is somewhat tricky as you have to dive at the ball-carrier, but you do get the hanf of it. When a player is tackled, a ruck (loose scrum - Ed) usually results - pushed forwards by waggling the joystick.

The same technique is used for set scrums, but before these you get to choose from a selection of special plays such as Scissors, Loop, and Blind Side. This also occurs before line-outs (where you press fire to make your players jump) and penalties.

The latter result from random stamping in the scrum or tackling from an offside position. Cleverly, though, the ref often plays the advantage if you're in a good position. If a penalty is awarded in the opponents' half, it may be worth kicking at goal.

The kick is aimed using a graph at the bottom-left of the screen. You must stop a vertical line moving left/right to select direction by pressing fire, and hold it down to select power via a horizontal bar moving up/down. This is also used for the kick-off and drop-outs on your 22 (after you've touched the ball down behind your own try line).

Yep, it's all here and it plays so well too. Matches realistically involve a combination of scrappy forward play and fluent passing moves by the backs - along with a flexible kicking game. Furthermore, you can replay great tries in normal or slow motion and even save them to show your friends. There's no doubt that this is the definitive rugby sim.

?
Denton Designs have come up with the goods again, I may not understand all the rules yet - but they're all there and this depth ensures a genuine long-term challenge. Unlike the Domark game, the bias is toward passing and running, breaking away from scrums usually ensures some progress.

Initially tackling is tough, judging when and how to tackle is a little tricky and takes time to master. But racking up a few tries relatively easily in two-player games is a good introduction to a comprehensive and enjoyable program. The sprites are well done and they move reasonably quickly, while the play menus make complex plays relatively simple. Good fun for fans and non-fans alike.


INTRO SCREEN

PRESENTATION 90%
Vast array of options with World Cup, league and video replays.
GRAPHICS 73%
The elevated view works well and the largish players are nicely animated.
SOUND 78%
Nice intro tune plus in-match tunelets and crowd FX.
HOOKABILITY 82%
Well-implemented controls allow you to play like a professional (whoops, I mean amateur!). Two-player games are frantic fun.
LASTABILITY 87%
The computer is tough to beat even on the lower skill levels, and the tournaments provide a great challenge.
OVERALL 84%
A thoughfully designed and well-implemented simulation.


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