Rugby games are rare and decent ones are even rarer. In fact you’d be hard pushed to think of one worth hunting down on the current generation of consoles.

So for rugger fans, Rugby World Cup 2011 should be a treat. It’s the official game of the rugby union championship that is about to start in New Zealand and sounds just the ticket for anyone hoping to steer their favoured team to glory.

But while the arrival of new rugby game is long overdue, no-one paying full price for this will be thankful for the lack of a tutorial mode. With patience and perseverance the contextual controls do eventually click, but it’s a slog and one that players shouldn’t be forced to go through by any full-price console game in 2011.

Once mastered there are some good moments thanks to the nippy pace of the game and some nimble passing courtesy of the shoulder buttons. It also doesn’t skimp on the details: scrums, mauls, line outs and rucks are all present and correct.

But when you are on the defensive the game unravels. The AI of the players makes them unreliable teammates while the system for taking control of different players plus the limitations of the viewpoint make it difficult to fight back effectively.

As a single player game it’s also rather thin with little of interest beyond repeat runs through this year’s cup matches. Luckily the developers did remember to include offline and online multiplayer modes.

But even if you’re willing to battle the steep learning curve and endure the mixed rewards that follow for a dose of digital rugby, we reckon you’d be best off waiting to see how Jonah Lomu Rugby Challenge fares when it comes out later this year before reaching into your pocket.

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Rugby World Cup 2011 review

Despite some nifty passing manoeuvres, Rugby World Cup 2011 struggles to score between the posts