Rugby League Live 4 releases this Friday, 28th July

Let me start off by saying, no one should ever compare this game to a 2K or EA Sports game. Melbourne based developer Big Ant, just don’t have that sort of funding to make a video game experience as good as that. With limited resources, Big Ant have done themselves proud. What we should really be comparing is whether 2K or EA could make a game as good as this without their millions of dollars.

Big Ant have delivered the most realistic experience yet with their fourth installment in the Rugby League Live franchise.

Gone is the arcade style seen in the previous three games, in its place is a simulation based game play and Rugby League Live 4 is all the better for it.

The game isn’t without its shortcomings though. It’s still hard to make metres through the middle third (this largely due to the fact your team stands far too deep and by the time they get to the advantage line, the A.I are already there) on the higher difficulties while the leap between the difficulty levels – Rookie, Amateur, Pro, Veteran and Legend – is quite a big one. What will be music to some fans ears though, is that the new mechanics brings a steep learning curve. If you try to play the game like Rugby League Live 2 or 3 you will get frustrated.

And while commentary is improved, it still becomes quite repetitive and could flow a lot better. The addition of Eddie Hemmings to the booth alongside Andrew Voss is a big one, I feel he adds a lot more to this game than the ever-present Voss.

The other blight on the game is the lack of polish on career mode. Apart from player loyalty and being able to select your own representative team from scratch, the career mode in Rugby League Live 4 is just as it was in 2015’s release.

The presentation aspects of this game are among biggest improvements in this release. The player likenesses are the best they’ve ever been, thanks to the player scanning Big Ant have implemented. The new animations such as ankle taps, all new defence animations including drag tackles and the big hits all look excellent. The new lighting system also looks great on the PS4 pro.

The new creative suite is possibly the best part of this game. The plethora of options in the stadium creator, fanhub and logo manager will keep fans invested for years to come. And while the match creator isn’t the biggest addition, it adds depth to the game.

Defence and set plays have been completely overhauled in Rugby League Live 4. It feels like you can structure your defensive line in this game with the addition of the L2 button being used to lock in the opposition attack and safely prevent offload’s.

The on the fly interchange feature is a much needed one and works quite well while for stats men like myself, in-game statistics are now more in-depth while there are now career statistics for every player in the game.

The brand-new foresight mode is great for beginners or those who are new to Rugby League video games or the sport itself. Foresight mode allows you to see from dummy-half whom in your team has the biggest strengths and weaknesses in the areas of strength, speed, agility and fitness. Veterans of this franchise won’t need to use this feature, but it is a welcome one nonetheless.

It’s now easier to see which lines your players are running and actual set plays are finally in the game. Set plays are fantastic and a long-awaited addition to the game but they do take a lot to get the hang of, so stick with it. Offside markers are also easier to see and you can now attempt to run at off-side markers from dummy-half.

The A.I in this game are a whole lot smarter. They now run in different directions and occasionally go sideways in attack rather than being rather straight in the previous three games in the series. They also give away more penalties and make more errors whereas in other games you usually must rely on your own team not making errors or conceding penalties as the A.I rarely ever did either.

Verdict

Overall the game play is a lot more realistic, the visuals are fantastic and the lighting is amazing. The creation suite adds a lot of depth to the game play but Rugby League Live 4 is let down by its all too familiar career mode, repetitive commentary and the unrealistic feature of forwards too often being dominated in defence. Hopefully a few of these issues are fixed in the day one patch.

+ Fantastic Visuals

+ The new creative suite has great depth

+ Simulation based gameplay is challenging

+ Improved A.I

–  Repetitive Commentary

– All too familiar career mode

– Forwards struggle to make metres through the middle-third

Overall Score: 7.5/10

This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 4 Pro through a review copy of the game given to NothingButLeague from Tru Blu Entertainment/HES.