Fans of AFL have had a pretty good few years. Attendance and participation have swelled, and some of the best teams to have ever played the game have emerged. Yet fans of Aussie Rules Football video games have had it tough. In fact, they’ve always had it tough. Previous AFL games ranged in quality from mediocre to near-unplayable, and the multi-platform franchise was discontinued after 2007. While it was probably a good idea to give the AFL series a rest, it also meant nearly four years without a multi-platform AFL video game. Until now.
AFL Live, the first AFL game developed by Melbourne’s Big Ant Studios, is an attempt to breathe some life into the video game form of Australia’s most popular football code, and much of the buzz leading up to release suggested that Big Ant might be on to a winner. So does AFL Live deliver, or is it just another disappointment?
Perhaps the biggest question mark surrounding AFL Live is one of gameplay: does AFL Live actually play like a game of football? Well, yes. Sometimes. Matches proceed at a much faster pace than in previous AFL video games, effectively capturing the shift to quicker, handball-based play that has dominated recently. Yet certain quirks of the game, as translated to video game form, mean that AFL Live never quite encapsulates the feeling of a real match, and can sometimes even jolt the player out of the experience.