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Review: 'EA Sports Rugby' packs a wallop

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By Jake the Snake

(IDG) -- Perhaps best described as a cross between American football and English football (soccer), rugby is no sport for wee girls with its non-stop play and unpadded tackles. But with its fluid gameplay and easy-to-learn controls, "EA Sports Rugby" could convert some Yanks to the intriguing world of rucks, scrums and grubber kicks.

It plays like a mix of "Madden" and "FIFA" -- and looks much like the latter, especially with its smoothly animated players and mostly wide-angle views. Up close, though, the players look blocky and ugly. Commentary in strong Scottish brogue by John McLaren, "the voice of rugby," adds nice flavor, especially his understated but cutting remarks like, "that's ordinary rugby."

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The controls make it simple for even a Yank to quickly flip backward passes and rake the ball out of a scrum, though on defense it's difficult to choose the player nearest the ball carrier. As EA's first rugby game to be released in North America since the Genesis days, this is a must-have for fans of the sport and at least a rental for most jock-minded gamers.





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