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July 8, 2003
AFL Live 2004 - Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Rating Players Price
28/8/2003AcclaimIR Gurus1-2$99.95

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Close ups of players.
AFL Live 2003 was and impressive title considering the small development team, the limited development time and the fact that there has never been a good AFL title. It was well received with some solid sales Australia-wide. During June 2003 Acclaim Australia once again started ramping up publicity for the next incarnation of the game, called AFL Live 2004. But this isn't just cosmetics as the developers have put considerable effort into making this a much more complete package with gameplay tweaks, new game modes and a more polished performance.

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Go the mighty bombers!
In case you live in the backwaters of Australia or the rest of the world AFL, or Australian Football League, is Australia's premiere sport, and before Rugby fans start disputing the fact I point you to the review of AFL Live 2003 for attendance comparisons. The game is played on an oval field with an oval shaped ball and has a goal and two behinds. If you don't know what I'm saying that this probably isn't the game for you. So what's new from last years game?

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Kicking towards goal.
Looking at the main game modes IR Gurus have included the Wizard Cup Preseason Competition which includes all the new rules such as the 9 point goal (which I think sucks!) and three point rushed behind (which I can live with). AFL Live 2004 also includes 4 new mini-games called Handball challenge, Superkick, Around the World and Elimination which all seem fairly logical, but could keep up entertained. Also included is the Brownlow (best season player), Coleman (most season goals), and Norm Smith medals (best player in the Grand Final) as well as all the club Best and Fairest. It may not be actual gameplay but will certainly add to the atmosphere. A training mode has also been included and will help teach players the basics of the game and how to perform each maneuver, including the classic speccie.

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One of the new mini-games.
Another much welcomed inclusion is the mission based games as you try and take this years team to match a classical historical match for your club. Who wouldn't want to go back to the earlier grand finals and rectify some mistakes (whenever Essendon lost for instance!) Finally the developers are updating all the statistical information to include season marks, kicks and handballs. It's not just the options and modes that have been updated as the developers have also improved the AI to make the game even more realistic and challenging.

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Kicking back in from goal.
Graphically it's evident that there have been some improvements, but the screenshots don't show the 14 new animations in the game including new kicks such as the torpedo and snap for goal, new handballs, tackles, marks and bumps. The new commentary panel includes Denis Commeti, Gerard Healy and Christi Malthouse as Boundary Rider (grrr). Finally the game also includes and all new instant replay feature.

I have to say that the above list of new features is very impressive. Last years game showed a lot of potential but just fell short in a couple of areas. This version looks to rectify many of those problems. Hopefully the kicking for goal controls will be improved as they were one of the least impressive gameplay elements last year. Expect a release in August.