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August 25, 2005
AFL Premiership 2005 - Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Anticipation Players Price
22/9/2005SonyIR Gurus1-4, 4 $99.95
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Takes a diving mark.
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Great tackle.
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Stadiums are well modelled.

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One of the distant views.
I'll be the first to admit that the previous AFL games, such as AFL Live 2004, published through Acclaim were less then stellar. They were playable, and certainly for die-hard fans it was better then nothing, but the games were well short of what we've come to expect. When Acclaim imploded and disappeared a year or so ago it left the AFL series up in the air and for some time it seemed that the game was going to disappear, but then a little angel appeared from heaven (which many refer to as Sony) and announced the game would be published by Sony, and the PC and XBox versions disappeared from the radar rather promptly. Even more exciting was the news that not only were Sony publishing the title, but also assisting with its development.

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The MCG - just don't call it that!
So what are the features of this game? Well as well as the pre-season Wizard Cup (which includes all the new rules), and the regular season, gamers can also participate in exhibition matches and training drills. AFL Premiership 2005 will also include a dynasty mode where you can play for up to 10 years to create a, ermm, dynasty. It will even be possible to trade players at the end of the season. It's the new additions to this year’s version that should really excite gamers. One key area which has been improved is the AI of the players. They now use their own tactics and as the match progresses will become more and more fatigued. Ball physics have also been improved with less distance on the kicks. The AFL Tribunal is a new inclusion and it has been taken straight from the 2005 AFL season using the new demerit points system which was adopted by the AFL this year. If that wasn't enough it will even be possible to read the umpires match reports!

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The Digimask feature is awesome.
So what are Sony bringing to the party then? First of all the game will now take advantage of Sony's Digimask technology which allows gamers to take a photograph of themselves using the EyeToy camera and then have it inserted onto a 3D model to put yourself into the game. That's not all, however. Potentially the biggest and most exciting addition to AFL 2006, and one which really surprised everyone, is the promised inclusion of online gameplay. This isn't just 2-players either but rather 4-player support allowing for either co-op or head-to head gameplay. This should be a key component to the title and with Sony's input should be silky smooth. Gamers will also be able to meet in a lobby system for the game.

In terms of graphics IR Gurus are promising some major improvements - and it's about time too. The player models will be a lot more realistic with the Digimask being used for key players in each team. We can only hope by key the developers don't mean one or two, but rather the majority of the team. Heritage jumpers will also be included for all 16 teams while the motion capture has been expanded with developers paying particular attention to animation blending - a particular problem in previous titles. Finally the crowds have been given an overhaul for more realism while the eight stadiums will include the new Northern Stand at the MCG which is nearing completion - although the game will not use the real stadium names due to licensing. Finally, AFL Premiership 2005 will include three different camera angles. A low view gives you views close to the action, a high view allows you to see more of the field while a side view provides a more traditional TV styled viewpoint.

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Missed the tackle.
Sound always plays a major role in ensuring the authenticity, and atmosphere of the game. Denis Commeti, Dermott Brereton and Christi Malthouse (who replaces the previously announced commentary from Dipper for some reason) provide the commentary while the national anthem will play prior to finals. Crowd effects have been taken from games over the last 10 year for realism and while no mention has been made of the club theme songs yet if they aren't included, well...

As an added bonus Sony are including a bonus DVD with every copy of AFL Premiership 2005. This disc, released for the first time on DVD, is a visual history of Australian Football covering 100 years of the great game. The high value DVD covers all the icons and iconic action moments that have contributed to legendary status of many individuals and the AFL game. I must say we've watched this disc already and at almost 2 hours (yes, 120 minutes) it's superb viewing and a very welcome addition.

AFL Premiership 2005 looks like the best game in the series by a long shot so if you're a PS2 owner you're going to be very happy in a couple of weeks we suspect. Expect a release on September 22nd 2005.