Usually I use this blog to promote Caveman Craig 2 and our upcoming games, Nightbear and Stadium Builder, but tonight I was given an opportunity to be one of the first fans to play the new NRL game, Rugby League Live 2. So I believe an exclusive review is highly necessary!
For our regular Parabox Games followers who are not from Australia, let me give you a quick run-down of the sport and its history in video games. Rugby League is one of the most popular sports in Australia and New Zealand, but due to our relatively small populations (on a global scale) Rugby League video games have been largely neglected in the past, as there isn’t a huge market compared to sports that are popular worldwide. Understandable. A few RL games were released throughout the 80’s and 90’s, and then a series of 3 games by New Zealand developers Sidhe, Rugby League, Rugby League 2 & Rugby League 3 (exclusively a Wii game) hit the shelves throughout the 2000s. While they were good for a RL games, and I played them to death, I felt that they never quite hit the spot. They never measured up to the standard of other sports games available at the time. Then a different company, Big Ant, took on the next family of RL games when they released Rugby League Live in 2010. Sadly, this was one of the worst RL games of all time, and many fans hated it (including myself – sold it on eBay the day after I bought it).
However, Big Ant is out to right their wrongs by daring to make a sequel, the game I played tonight, Rugby League Live 2!
Let’s start with my first impressions…
Graphics and Visuals
The graphics in this game are simply excellent! The player likenesses are also very good. I played as my beloved Panthers and was impressed with a few cut scenes that showed Luke Lewis and Kevin Kingston… they were spot on. Unfortunately, people skipped through most of the cut scenes, but from what I could see, they were very good. Big Ant was generous in all the small details when it came to creating the visual atmosphere of a RL game. Cameramen, flags in the crowd, referees, refs throwing their flags in the air after a goal, and… cheerleaders! And I’m not talking about low-polygon objects in the background… these were fully-detailed dancing cheer girls. The detail they put into this was admirable.
Each team has a good selection of jerseys. For my Panthers, I could choose home, away, heritage and also a classic 1991 jersey… inviting players to consider making their favourite teams from history. They were very accurate, however, some teams are without sponsors (namely ones with alcohol and gambling advertising – I don’t have a problem with these being left out)
The menus in the game looked very impressive also… like something you might see on Fox Sports.
There’s a huge list of stadiums in this game, and from what I saw, they are more than sufficient and reasonably accurate.
I noticed in some of the screenshots released recently that all the players have the same bodies…. and yes, this is a fact, but you don’t notice once you’re playing the game. The ball is also too small, meaning that intercepts and offloads often go unnoticed as both opposing players suddenly lose track of where the ball is.
There’s a generous selection of different camera angles to play with (at least 4 or 5) with side angles, and views that sit higher in the sky, allowing you to see out to your wingers. This, however, makes it even more difficult to see the ball.
We only had the opportunity to play quick ten-minute games, but the Big Ant representative also boasted some extensive player creation/customisation, including over 70 different tattoos.
You don’t need to worry about frisbee-ing your game out the window because of frustrating gameplay. RLL2 is going to easily be the best RL game ever.
This game has very extensive controls, which has potential to be its strongest or weakest point. There are 4 different types of tackles, which sounds great!.. but nobody really mastered the controls on the night. Are 4 tackles necessary? It looks like this is the type of game you’ll have to sit down and play solid for hours and hours – rather than casually pick up a controller and play. It’s difficult. I like getting a few mates over to play sports games, but I can imagine most of my friends would get frustrated trying to learn the game, rather than just having fun.
To change players, you had to use the pass buttons, or press two of the triggers to change to the closest player. This was very disappointing for me. I would rather they had one less tackle button.
60% of the time somebody made it over the tryline, they did an embarassing grubber kick, rather than ground the ball. I would’ve hoped that once you’re over the line, any button you press grounds the ball. Mastering the kicks took a while for most people too, but they weren’t bad.
Passing was ok. You can double-press the pass button to do a quick pass to the player on your immediate right or left as they run onto the ball. I tried this a lot, but got nowhere. You can also hold the pass button and do cut-outs, but many balls go to ground, or float forwards. You have to pass straight away, or all your players will be in front of you, and you’ll throw a forward… don’t bother running from dummy half.
They play the ball very slowly, but the tackle animations are VERY good… and you can hold players down in the tackles to make it even slower.
The sad thing about passing was that occasionally the players would do a massive impossible pass halfway across the field. At one stage there was a glitch where a guy tried to pass the ball right, and instead, it flew up in the air and floated 60 metres LEFT over the sideline (it was the only glitch I saw on the night, so it can be excused). Still, the passing was an improvement on previous titles.
If you get tackled when you dive over the line, most times it will go to the video ref… but it’s ok, because the cut scene is pretty cool. The ref makes the TV screen signal, and we see the TRY/NO TRY screen come up – accurate to real life.
Most people struggled with goal-kicking, and kicking off. It wasn’t hard, just very different to previous RL games. You simple rotated your player (taking the wind into consideration) and held down the button and released at maximum power (without going too far). The ball even curls around depending on which foot they kick from.
Big players and forwards are capable of making good busts, and bouncing off tackles from smaller players. I saw someone playing as Manly and sent Brent Kite through for a try, after fending off two smaller players. It was awesome. Fends and sidesteps need to be properly timed. You won’t win a game by simply ‘skating’ up the field with sidesteps, like in previous titles.
There were a few ugly skeletons from previous games, with players often completely out of position. I was hoping to send the ball out to my speedy Penrith centres and wingers, only to find big Cameron Ciraldo positioned on the wing… no wonder I was beaten 22-0.
Commentary & Sound
Andrew Voss returns for the commentary in this game (they’ve recycled old commentary, but they’ve recorded new stuff too), but they’ve now introduced Phil ‘Gus’ Gould. Gus is a great addition to the game – I’m happy they added it – but you will hear the same lines over and over, even within the one game. He also says “no no no NO NO!” a lot, making you murmur “shut up Gus” all too often. The comments are appropriate though. If you score as a result of a mistake from the opposition, he’ll express his disgust at them giving the points away. If it’s a low-scoring game, he’ll comment on the solid defense in the match, and make comments about how good the game is, big hits etc.
I have a strong bias for Vossy’s work in this game (and previous titles) because I’ve worked with him in the past on a few projects and he’s a good guy. When I was a skinny teenager, we did a piece for Boots N’ All together – it’s lurking somewhere on YouTube. I also illustrated his book, and he made some glorious cameos in my – well worth checking out!
The commentary and crowd amps up as you get close to the tryline. The sounds are as you expect from the game. The menu music, from memory, was pretty decent.
The bad news from the night, was that the game won’t be out in time for the finals.
The good news is that the friendly Tru Blu Entertainment folks are sending me a free copy of the game when it comes out on the 11th October!
Truth is, I would have bought it anyway, because I feel that after a few solid hours in front of this game, it may very well satisfy that thirst for a decent RL game.
Tim here, just poking my head in to say “Hi!” and “Thanks for the support!” Caveman Craig 2 has been getting some great exposure and some very generous reviews. Nice to hear people speaking highly of my graphic/animation work!
I want to remind you all to check out the following:
Free Caveman Craig 2 Demo: Click Here
Buy Caveman Craig 2 HERE!
Support indie game development and get 6 games for $5: Click Here
We’ll have more news in the coming weeks, and some announcements on new games and content we would like to develop. Stay tuned!
Excitement is brewing as we come to the final stages of CC2’s production.
I have finished all my graphic work, and can (mostly) put my feet up as Rhys finishes up his programming duties on the game.
The last graphical things I had to make, were a series of icons to represent 22 “achievements” that can be… um… achieved in the game. Here are just a handful to whet your appetite:
With the majority of my animation work done on CC2, I just wanted to take a moment to encourage you to pre-order the game!
Over the past few years that we’ve been working on this great sequel, I’ve also had the opportunity to work on a number of animated TV shows and films (Disney’s Kick Buttowski, Big Green Rabbit, Wakkaville and feature film; Santa’s Apprentice – just to name a handful) which have fueled and nurtured my animation skills beyond what you would have seen in the original Caveman Craig game. This is just one small reason to have confidence that CC2 is gonna be great!
CC2 has over 12 new dinosaurs. There are 4 challenging stages in which you must defeat 4 different enemies (we’re keeping the last one especially secret!). There are also 5 or so bonus levels and minigames between each stage. There’s a big rewards catalogue with well over 35 items you can buy to help Craig through the levels. Things like catapults, mammoths, natural disasters and lookout towers.
As an incentive to pre-order the game, we are offering “Caveman Craig: Special Edition” as a freebie to those who preorder before the game’s release. We’re hoping the game will come out early in the new year. Get onto www.cavemancraig.com to preorder.
Have a Merry Christmas and a happy new year! Treat yourself (or someone you tolerate) to a preorder of CC2!
You can see here the official Caveman Craig 2: The Tribes of Boggdrop logo and title (click on it for a chunky huge version).
Keep an eye on our blog for some crisp screenshots coming this week. We’re also hoping to announce a release date and a pre-order deal soon.
I have almost completed all the animation for the vast array of dinosaurs in the game. There will be over 12 different prehistoric beasts, including this huge Stegosaurus (shown in the pic). The original Caveman Craig had about 4 dinosaurs (and the special edition includes the Dilophosaurus). Some dinosaurs will be seen more frequently than the others, but one thing we know is that the T-Rex will be more terrifying than in the original game!
Another thing to be excited about is the new website, which is currently in development too. There will be a tonne of info, pics and other exciting news to come with it. No date is set for this yet, but stay tuned.
Rhys and I have also been talking about other games we can develop after CC2 hits the (virtual) streets. We’ll always keep you informed on this blog as to what exciting Parabox games will be coming out.
In the meantime, if you haven’t already got it, Caveman Craig: Special Edition is still available in our store at www.cavemancraig.com – This is tonnes better and smoother than the free version we have on YoYo Games, and has a heap of extra features.
However, we’re gonna keep it secret. To find out the final enemy caveman, you’ll just have to buy the game when we release it (and of course, progress far enough in the game to meet him).
As Rhys mentioned, we’re planning to release the game sometime mid-this-year. We really value your patience, and that’s why we’d like to keep you keen with images like the one on the left here.
Rhys has developed a system where Craig earns experience points by showing initiative, killing dinosaurs and kicking butt. The experience points can be spent on all sorts of handy items such as this tower thing. The dude in the top pegs rocks at enemies.
One of the enemies Craig will have to face (without making direct eye-contact) is the caveman who predates clothes!
Prehistoric Pete is the original nudest and Craig will need to defeat him in Caveman Craig 2. Just… make sure that leaf stays on.. please…
I can’t remember the exact specs of my computer – nothing too amazing – but the software I use is:
Toon Boom Digital Pro – Fantastic animation software which I use for animating the characters in Caveman Craig 2. It’s also good for general drawing. There have since been more versions of the software (Animate Pro and the secret Harmony), but digital pro is the best and most well-behaved of them. I also use Adobe Photoshop CS2. I use a teensy tiny Wacom Bamboo drawing tablet (it’s the cheapest one, and it works nicely).
I also use a Rode NT-2A microphone for recording voices and stuff (my wife is a singer, so she uses it for that too) and a very minimal recording set-up.
Also in the photo you can see about 15% of my Simpsons/toy collection. I have a heap of Simpsons, Toy Story and general cartoon merchandise including some original animation production cels from Rugrats, Aladdin, The Simpsons and Rocko’s Modern Life. All inspiration for Caveman Craig??.. sorta. I just like toys.
We are making good progress on the game, and we may even be able to confirm a release date soon! Stay tuned!
Time to meet another Caveman from the upcoming Caveman Craig 2.
This is Jurassic John. Not much to say about him except that he is hairy, sweaty and has a fierce arm when it comes to using his club.
Enjoy the animation! We will be recording voices and sound FX for the game in the coming week!