I’m a massive Rugby League fan, and whilst the last few Rugby League games have had more than their fair share of issues, they were still good fun. The core gameplay was always there, but glitches and uneven (and unpredictable) gameplay always led to frustration that felt unfair and often to losing matches that quite frankly had nothing to do with your input.
Thankfully, Rugby League Live 4 is the most polished Australian-developed sporting game in quite a while. Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s still issues (which we’ll get to later), but a lot of the frustrating issues that plagued earlier iterations of the game have now been cleaned up to the point where people playing the game won’t be left questioning a myriad presentation issues or glitches.It’s clear that Big Ant have done a lot in the way of presentation. Most of the players in the game have been face scanned and are easily recognisable, which goes a long way to automatically associating skills and attributes to their real life counterpart. Animation of players and ball movement is also a lot smoother than earlier iterations. Sure, there’s still the occasional glitch where the ball might go through the ground, or a replay showing that the ball transition wasn’t the smoothest, but for the most part, this is a huge step forward in the graphics department and a better offering than AFL Evolution which released earlier this year. Commentary features Andrew Voss alongside a British commentator. It’s much better than previous iterations and feels less robotics, but there were still times when the line that was read out didn’t match what had happened in game at all.
The general gameplay looks incredibly familiar on the surface, but there’s subtle changes that go a long way to changing how you attack and defend. For instance, kick-offs and kicking for goal now have a meter which actually seems to affect how far the ball goes, with a series of graphs representing where the kick will go based on how much power you give. It feels much more natural and takes a while to conquer but ultimately gives you much more control over where you’re kicking and makes the player feel like they’re in control.One of the other major issues with previous iterations was the fact that you would often be penalised, or make an error and never really feel at fault (or have any idea why the game was punishing you). Big Ant have put certain mechanics in place to make you more accountable for what you’re doing in-game. For instance, being onside is a major part of Rugby League and this is evident in Rugby League Live 4. You now have an indicator over under each player at all times which signifies when you’re offside, so you now know not to make a tackle if you’re defending, and you know where to run if you’re attacking. It completely changes the game and puts more importance on staying onside in both attack and defence.