August 13, 2002
AFL Live 2003 - Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Rating Players Price
13/9/2002AcclaimIR Gurus1-2$99.95

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Brisbane enters the field.
AFL isn't just a sport, it's a religion. What other sport gets and average attendance of 270,000 per weekend (excluding finals), or about one in every 65 people in the entire country attending one of the eight matches per weekend. Forget about the other "fake" football which is lucky to attract 12,000 patrons at a game, compared to almost triple that at 33,000 average for AFL. Even so Acclaim's announcement in late 2001 that they were to publish an AFL game came as a surprise given the limited sales potential. Australia is the only market for the title, but it looks like a winner as Acclaim get set to unleash the title on three systems; PC, XBox and Playstation 2 just in time for the finals in September.

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Playing in the rain, as usual.
One of the great things about this game is that it is being developed in the heart of AFL, Victoria, by IR Gurus. Being based in Melbourne the developers have unprecedented access to the players and grounds to recreate the game authentically. The company has even enlisted Kevin Sheedy for use as a coaching expert through the game. Hopefully the developers will be able to produce a better Australian sport game then EA Sports Cricket which was developed in Canada of all places, and suffered as a result. The feature lists for AFL Live 2003 is pretty impressive. Although Acclaim have not acquired official licenses for stadiums around Australia (that does not fall under the AFL contract) the stadiums have been designed to be replicas of the real thing. As you can probably seen in some of the screenshots the similarities to the real MCG are quite remarkable.

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Expect bone crunching tackles.
Despite the name AFL Live 2003 this game is based on the 2002 season, but what is a name anyway? When you're talking AFL I'll take whatever the hell you decide to call it. Thanks to a full license from the AFL (Australian Football League) the game includes the complete 2002 fixture, as well as the 16 teams and all the players. The game modes in AFL Live 2003 will give you the opportunity to play a single match, full season, or just the finals. Sadly, despite the fact that original press touted the game as a 4-player experience the Playstation 2 version will only allow 2-players according to the latest news on the web site. Sadly, there will be no pre-season competition, but given the fact that the AFL have just re-structured it back to a knockout competition for next year it's not really a surprise.

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It's not officially the MCG, but...
Graphically, AFL Live 2003 is shaping up very nicely indeed. Hopefully the frame rate will be solid enough to allow smooth gameplay and fast action as you would expect from the sport. The developers, IR Gurus, have included over 300 animations, which have been motion captured from AFL stars Nick Daffy and Paul Williams. The players are also individualised with over 25 player statistics generated from real player data to accurately represent player's skills, attributes, form trends and injury history. The developers are also promising that the crowds will also be animated with the playing teams colours, banners and sounds to provide and authentic AFL experience. Games will also take place in night and day, dry and wet conditions.

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A certain goal.
To complete the package play by play commentary will be provided by Steve Quatermain and Gary Lyon while tactics, as previously mentioned, will be provided by one of the greatest coaches of all time, Essendon's Kevin Sheedy. With a release now set down for September 6th 2002 it is clear that AFL 2003 is shaping up very nicely indeed. If the gameplay can match the quality of the graphics there may at last be an AFL game that lives up to the frantic pace and quality of the sport. It's a bit of a shame that the game is being released at the business end of the season, but it's better late then never. My prediction is that AFL 2003 will be one of the biggest games on PS2 (and XBox/PC) in Australia this year.