NRL Rugby League (Stacey Jones Rugby League in New Zealand; Super League Rugby League in the United Kingdom) is a rugby league video game developed by Sidhe Interactive, released in 2003 for PC, PlayStation 2, and Xbox. Based on the sport of rugby league, NRL Rugby League brings the sport to the living room - complete with actual players, teams and competitions.
The features of NRL Rugby League include:
- 35 teams, with official licenses that include the National Rugby League (NRL), NRL Telstra Premiership, State of Origin, City vs Country, the Australian Kangaroos, and the New Zealand Kiwis.
- 25 realistic stadia including every stadium featured in the 2003 NRL season
- Play by play commentary by Channel 9's Andrew Voss
- Accurate player abilities and skills modelled on detailed data supplied by official NRL statisticians, NRL Stats
- Gameplay includes high tackles, ankle taps, multi-person tackles, injuries, sin bin, interchange, knock ons, cut-out passes, sidesteps, offloads, fends, break tackles, scrums, slow-motion replays, grubber, chip & punt kicks, field goals, bombs and more
- Multiple in-game camera angles to choose from including both behind and side-on based view
- Both day and night games, with variable weather and wind
- Over 700 separate realistic animations, with additional motion blending and dynamic head tracking for unlimited variety
- High quality graphics including player likenesses, dynamic lighting and shadows
- Comprehensive player, team, and competition customisation with the ability to alter all elements of players including the face, skin colour, head shape, hair style and colour, height, weight, and 12 separate skill attribute
- Authentic sound captured from actual league matches and training session
- Dynamic crowds including variable attendance and response to ingame events
- 5 levels of difficulty with unlockable features and content
- Up to 8 person multiplayer on PS2 and PC, 4 player on Xbox
Starved of a Rugby League game to play since 1996's Australian Rugby League '96, (Electronic Arts), fans quickly assembled once the title was announced. Originally in development at another studio, New Zealand based Sidhe Interactive started development from scratch when the publisher (Home Entertainment Suppliers) decided to change their approach to the title.
With fans already clamouring for the game, an early (pre-alpha) demo was released in December 2002. Despite featuring only basic gameplay and graphics, the response was overwhelmingly positive and stimulated the creation of a number of fan-sites and forums - the pre-release excitement had begun to build.
Released in December 2003, NRL Rugby League rocketed up the charts - hitting and holding the number one spot over the lucrative Christmas shopping season. Reviews were mostly positive, with an average of nearly 80%. Reviewers were quoted as saying:
- "Well balanced and heaps of fun ... A must buy for Rugby League fans." - Gameplanet
- "... fans and genre lovers will delight in an absorbing simulation." - Gamepro
- "Rugby League excels over [the competition] in almost every way ... it's features make it a winner that's true to the sport" - Official PlayStation Magazine
Strong fan support remained long after release, with user-made modifications and updates flourishing. Fan forums were alive with speculation and advice with regard to a possible (and, obviously, hoped-for) sequel, including gameplay tweaks and potential new features.
Rumours persisted until February 2005 - when Rugby League 2 was announced.
- League Loaded Forums
- Sidhe Interactive website
- Home Entertainment Suppliers website
- Metacritic review aggregation page