There is a new rugby video game coming to consoles, expected to land in October of this year, and while in the past, considering just how little love has been shown to the sport in the video game world, we would have been delighted to hear that news... Having looked into it, there's not much hope on offer.
That sounds incredibly harsh, to judge a video-game long before it's even released, and we'd really love to be surprised when it does eventually land, but as L'Equipe confirmed the game in development and being targeted for the start of next season, it very much seems a case of same old, same old.
This one is already in development for two years now within the premises of Eko Software, Parisian studio to which we owe the recent Handball 16 and 17. Rugby 18 will have even more licenses, with some 2,000 international players present, largely from the TOP 14 and Premiership Rugby. Presented as the entertainment dedicated to the oval ball, it promises to be "the most immersive ever created"
The game is being developed by Eko Software, who have taken on the task of doing justice to a much-loved sport that is being ignored by the giants of the sports game industry in EA Sports and 2K Games, as they have done with their Handball games (Olympic handball, not the GAA variant) in recent years.
But therein lies the problem. Eko Software deserve a lot of credit for giving fans of these sports something to play, but as the standards had been set early by the likes of Jonah Lomu Rugby and EA Sports Rugby 06/08, a studio of that size simply cannot deliver the rugby game we all want.
Having played a demo of Handball 16, I can tell you that it is clunky and awkward to play, with graphics that belong on the Playstation 2, and controls that frustrate from the word go. Again, that sounds harsh to criticise a small studio in that way, but it's just too big a task to try and replicate such a complicated sport into a video game that can provide the same enjoyment that a FIFA or NBA 2K can.
Then there is the screenshots that have been released for Rugby 18. You'll see the conversion attempt in our featured image above, but there's also this, which features a Leicester Tigers prop who looks like a 'Heavy' from Team Fortress 2...
Visually it looks very similar to 'Rugby 15', which was absolute garbage. Eko have taken over the reigns of a terrible game, and we really don't have faith that it can be salvaged.
Then there are the licences. Something that shouldn't be a deal breaker, but inevitably is. In Rugby 15 the licencing for international rugby was so poor that the Ireland team consisted of players such as Andrea Rosales, Gregorio Summerall, and Alfredo Hildebrand... Expect more of the same here.
We want to get excited about a new rugby game. Many of us in the office STILL play EA Sports Rugby 08 to this day as it remains the most fluid and fun rugby game available a decade after it's release.
But there's a point where you lose faith altogether. Prove us wrong, Eko Software, we'd more absolutely delighted to eat our words and publish a glowing review of the first decent rugby game in a decade, but sadly, nothing has suggested that will be the case.
We'll give it a chance, but expectations are low.