Rugby 18 is the best rugby game on the market, it’s also the only one and it needs a lot of work.

Initial impressions of the game had me quite excited, there hasn’t been a good rugby game since the old Johnah Lomu rugby titles. Rugby 18 is back up with official licenses for all of the teams you can imagine with players likenesses thrown in. It was shame to see things unravel from there.

You choose a team to play as straight away before embarking on a tutorial match, a perfect way to introduce a game that has lots of rules and a controller scheme that requires the use of every button. As you approach different areas of the pitch the game will pause and explain to you what is happening and how to use the controls effectively, it’s a well put together tutorial, but I had a sense almost straight away that the gameplay was as fluid as I was hoping for.

After the tutorial is completed you are free to explore the rest of the game and the different game modes. The first mode you will notice is the My Club mode, it’s similar to FIFA Ultimate team, yet nowhere near as in depth. Most of your time will be spent in this mode creating the greatest team possible, before using that team in matches against AI and human opponents. It’s really the only interesting mode worth taking your time on, but even this mode leads to disappointment.

As you select your team, you are given a budget to select a mixture of players from, if you overspend you are told not to worry as long as you can pay off the debt a couple of seasons later, which is essentially impossible at which point you need to build a completely new team all over again!

As I mentioned, I had a feeling the gameplay was going to be issue with Rugby 18 just from the tutorial, I was right. The AI is dreadful, constantly getting caught offside, making bizarre mistakes one moment and becoming the greatest defenders the next. 90% of matches are spent in rucks,which is a mini game of hell in itself, when you do get the ball back your team are to slow to get into position and you lose any chance of progressing. Don’t even try to pass quickly, players are far too slow to get back into position and even if they are in place it feels like the game can’t react quick enough to your decisions.

As a result, every game is low scoring, which isn’t very fun, 7-3 was the highest I managed, of course some games are low scoring but out of 20 matches this was the most points scored.

To make matters worse the commentary is dreadful, if you have any experience of sports commentary in EA/2K sports titles then this is the complete opposite. It’s wooden, poorly put together and inaccurate quite often too, getting teams mixed up over fouls and talking about situations that had happened minutes ago.

I really don’t like ripping games apart, but it has to be done in this case. Rugby is crying out for a decent game, but this isn’t it.

Thanks to Koch Media and Xbox for supporting TiX