|a game by||Creative Assembly|
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Let's make three things perfectly clear from the start of this review. First, there are two sports that are completely different, no matter how many of you think they're exactly the same: rugby union and rugby league. Second, rugby league is an incredibly exciting, fast-paced and athletic sport, while union is dull, slow and bogged-down by too many archaic rules. Third, I know this view is completely biased and will piss many of you off, but I don't care.
Rugby 2001 is based around union rather than league and, while it does an admirable job of recreating the intricacies of the rules and the physics of the oval-shaped ball, it does little more than make you yearn for a rugby league version (there was one a few years ago, so why no update?). The graphics are simple but functional, and the presentation lives up to the usual EA standard. Special mention should go to the chat you can listen to while you install the game, where the intricacies of incidents that occurred in matches 40 years ago in deepest Wales are discussed in great depth.
As is often the case with these games, a two-player match is much more fun than the single-player game. As long as you try to play free-flowing rugby rather than the slow, tactical and stop-start game that inevitably ensues (there are literally thousands of ways to infringe the rules) in a union game, you can really start to enjoy it. However, sooner or later you get frustrated with the constant amount of pile-ups, retaken scrums and time-consuming throw-ins that never let you get into it. In a way Rugby 2001 suffers from being too much like the real thing.