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Rugby League Live 2 Review

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.

37 Responses

  1. Thanks for the review Tim – Tru Blu were the ones hosting tonight, it was their pizza and they’ll be sending you the free copy, I can’t take credit for that :)
    PS:I think you’ll find your mates won’t find it too hard if you set the difficulty to easy….

  2. Owen

    Thanks Tim that was a very helpful review cant wit for the game~!!!

  3. Wez

    Hey mate when you said the players have the same look the same what did you mean. Are they the same height. Or are they the same build or same shape. Because if Dave taylor is the same height and build as Ben barber that will be very poor.

    • Tim

      In some of the cut scenes, I believe they share the same body types… but the good news is that all the players have varied builds and heights when playing the game.

  4. Hey I have got a question for Ross, In a interview with SavePoint on OneHD you said the game will be out for the finals, is this the case? or is a latter date now expected?


  5. Mick

    Hi mate, quick question camera angles are they the same as Rugby Challenge ? In Rugby Challenge the camera at times zooms in on game play as you run with the ball.

    • Tim

      There are a lot of in-game camera angles to choose from. Behind, sideline, broadcast etc. but the camera never flew in to show any close-up action like in Rugby Challenge, and it doesn’t show replays of big tackles either. The only close-ups we get are of cut scenes.

      • Mick

        Thanks mate for that update. I was told by an EB games person the game had a Dynamic Play angle that did focus up close on a player with the ball if the play was great, he said though you can’t manually choose it the game does it for you.

  6. Q

    Great review Tim! Really looking forward to getting my hands on the game! Can you tell me if the annoying set up procedures for kick offs, conversions and goal line dropouts we were made to sit through in the first game remains?

    • Tim

      They have the same ‘ball set-up’ procedure, but you can skip it and get straight to the kicking. I noticed this because the one in previous versions annoyed me too. The kicking is very different in this game, but I like it a lot more.

  7. Les

    I was actually wondering if you could edit your team roster? The previous games you couldn’t, rendering them useless after the season is over.

    • Tim

      Yeah, you can edit the teams, and create your own. So you can update your team for next year, or even create a classic team from scratch. There seems to be a bi of angst from people as news is out that you can’t use edited teams in career mode. I’m not phased by that though.

  8. Luke

    Great review, can’t wait for the game!
    Wondering if you know if the career mode will be like franchise mode in the older games, where players got selected for rep duties, injuries occured an you got to sign new players etc, I hope so because the career mode on RLL 1 was quite terrible. Cheers

  9. Luke

    Great review, can’t wait for the game!
    Wondering if you know if the career mode will be like franchise mode in the older games, where players got selected for rep duties, injuries occured an you got to sign new players etc, I hope so because the career mode on RLL 1 was quite terrible. Cheers

  10. Axe

    Thanks for the review. Very disappointing that the dummy half cant go for a run though. Don’t you agree that this has always been a crucial part of the game? Especially close to the opposition line. Is that confirmed that its not going to be an available feature?


  11. Matty B

    If they want to get serious and create a viable future franchise, release the game at the start of the year. With line up changes, and Jersey changes the game will feel out of date very quicky. Hitting shelves weeks AFTER the season has finished isn’t giving it the best chance of success.

  12. Are the centres still in the middle????

  13. Just wondering, is there the ability to have instant replays?

  14. harley pomare

    How is the handling if the game, like how do the players respond to what your hands are doing? Because I remember the first rugby league live, it was crap the main thing i hated was how you move the players forward but take your thumb off the thumb stick & the players would keep running another 10 metres.

    How would you compare the handling in this RLL2 to the handling in Rugby Challenge, cause Rugby Challenge had great handling.

    • Axe

      The depth of controls is quite impressive but can also lead to mishandling. The amount of times I’ve intercepted a ball but inadvertently kicked a grubber instead of running the field is agonising because you intended to tackle. Handling is almost too responsive at times. When feeding the ball, it allows you to preempt if you want a short or long cut out pass which speeds the gameplay as it should but if your drifting to the right, its awkward trying to draw the players in & sprint at the same time because it would require holding down R1 and R2 together.

    • Tim

      It’s a big improvement, and a lot depends on the view you play from too. Sideline view seems to work better for me, and it helps prevent the frequent intercepts you’ll see in the game.
      On the PS3, if you hold in the R3 stick, players ‘leave’ the ball. Which is handy if your player is about to catch a ball right near the sideline and is likely to step out. You definitely have more precise control of your players movement.

  15. Axe

    After a few hours playing now, the default end to end camera angle is REALLY flawed and slows the game down. We should be experiencing the game as we see it on tv. So when I changed the camera to “side to side”, instant improvement. Less forward passing, better sight of overlaps created and kick returns are more natural (instead of waiting for the screen to flip around) before you can run a particular direction. Also, expected a little more from the sound effects during the tackles. A little emphasis would’ve gone a long way but is drowned out by the faux crowd noise. Ultimately, I see alot of potential once its mastered and good that the CPU difficulty is quite challenging. Even at rookie level.

    • Tim

      Agree entirely. There’s also a setting you can toggle that doesn’t flip the camera around when possession changes until you go into a tackle.

  16. Axe

    On another note that this article has touched on and I can confirm, players seem to drift out of position often. 2RF or FRF always seem to be out on the wings. Not cool. Not a gamebreaker but if real teams can hold their line, a game should be a no brainer.

  17. Is there a replay option, where you can watch trys, big hits and decisions for example?

  18. David

    Fending…. it’s too easy I mean when I score tries and on a role then I have the most of fun with my cousins but when the opposition has the ball how can I tackle him onto the ground by not being fended so easily. Its really frustating

    • Axe

      do you tackle more with the O or X button? X has better results esp if tapped.

      • Tim

        X makes it easier for the opposition to offload
        O seems to make fends less frequent, and if you use sprint (R2) and O, there’s a high risk of head-high tackles.

        I use a mix of both, and I enjoy the dive tackle, especially when I’m controlling the marker.

    • Tim

      When playing against friends, try putting it on professional. Fends are unstoppable on ‘amateur’

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