World Class Rugby. Hmmm, sounds a bit like World Cup Rugby if you ask me. And, my word if it isn't the Rugby World Cup this month, well knock me down with a feather and call me Susan if that isn't one of the most remarkable coincidences this century. And bugger me if there isn't another rugby game reviewed next month. How do I know? I'm psychic, that's how.
Rugby to the uninitiated is a complex game - hundreds of rules make up the sport, covering every possible situation. But it isn't really necessary to know more than the basics if you want to play or watch a game.
This version, by all accounts, tries to take in all of the basics and some of the more complex ones, but to include every single rule and couple it with the infallible logic of a computer would mean that you might as well start carving a headstone for playability right now. Fortunately you don't have to.
The match can be a friendly, in the league, then the League Cup or the World Cup. The four options give you the opportunity to play loads of opponents in all sorts of environments, and the chance to fight your way to the top in three different arenas.
On the pitch at any one time you will have fifteen men - eight forwards being the ones who make up the scrum. The idea is basically to run up the field with an oval ball, get it behind the goal and touch it down. The problem is that you cannot pass it forward - it must always be passed to someone behind.
This sort of sport involves heavy contact which may mean that the ball gets trapped under a pile of men and the game effectively grinds to a halt. This is where the scrum comes in, or if someone was at fault, various penalties. The scrum, or the ruck when the game hasn't been stopped, involve a large group of men being punched forward by the waggling of your joystick.
Coloured arrows show the position of the ball and whether you are in control of it. If the ball goes out of play you get a time-out. This set piece gives you the chance to pick one of the seven or eight routines available which, if you gain possession, will be run by the computer in a similar way to some American football games.
The ball can be kicked forward down the pitch but it must not be picked up by anyone other than the kicker or one of the opposition.
Advantage is a difficult concept to get over to a computer in the way of a referee would interpret it which is why the offside and knock on rules can be turned off if you fancy a really fast moving game. But when they are on it doesn't make the game completely unplayable, just a little more pedestrian.
Controls are very simple. Depending on the situation, fire will either change the controlled player, pass, tackle or kick. Dead easy. The pitch is viewed from either above or a pseudo 3D that is identical to that of John Madden on the Mega Drive, and it plays like a dream.
There is plenty of scope in computer rugby for the aforementioned headstone but Denton Designs have managed to produce a highly playable game that should do for computerised rugby what Kick Off did for football.