08 Oct, 2009

AFL Challenge Review

PSP Review | 'Challenge' is right.
While AFL is a huge sport in Australia (and especially Victoria), the fact that the sport's region of interest is so restricted means that football games are often developed on shoestring budgets and in a short time frame. On such tight budgets, gamers cannot legitimately expect the AFL games to have the high quality presentation and gloss of EA’s sports efforts. They should however expect a playable game that can provide a bit of entertainment. This brings us to AFL Challenge, Wicked Witch Software’s PSP exclusive footy game. So how does it shape up?

Those who enjoy their AFL games will recognise immediately that AFL Challenge is developed by the lesser known Wicked Witch Software. Transmission Games (who worked on the PlayStation 2 AFL Live Games) have moved onto Ashes Cricket 2009 and Heroes Over Europe. Wicked Witch Software is no stranger to the AFL license however, as they developed AFL Mascot Manor for the Nintendo DS and have worked on several AFL games for mobile platforms, so surely the jump to the PSP can’t be that big of a leap right? Wrong.

We want nothing to do with this game.

We want nothing to do with this game.
As soon as you jump into AFL Challenge you’ll realize that the whole package is as bare bones as possible. There is a quick match option, as well as a season mode... and that’s it. Want to just play a finals series? Bad Luck. Want to try out some training or play a scenario mode? Then you’ll need to look elsewhere, as the game isn’t keen on providing the player with too many options.

The Season Mode is pretty basic. You choose a team, progress through the rounds, get to the grand final and try and win the premiership. While only a few basic options could be forgivable it’s the gameplay which really ensures that anyone who was remotely interested in AFL Challenge should back right away. The controls are quite simple to grasp. The L button is sprint and when you have the ball X will kick, square will kick for goal, circle will handball and triangle will evade, with both the analog nub and the directional pad used for movement. When your players don’t have the ball triangle swaps players, square tackles and x will mark the ball when not tackling. Much like the gameplay, the controls are simple.

Ah, Swannies. The only real team.

Ah, Swannies. The only real team.
In game however, AFL Challenge is quite simply an embarrassing half hearted recreation of AFL. Let’s begin with atmosphere, there is no commentary and it doesn’t seem like Wicked Witch’s access to the AFL license extended to them being able to recreate the grounds, as every match looks like it is being played in a makeshift oval constructed in between a housing development estate. Just in case you are wondering, you can actually see houses behind the ground. The ground actually has two grand stands behind the goals which only go up a few rows. Around the rest of the ground is a fence. If not for the licensed players, we would think this game was recreating local football, but sadly this is supposed to be an AFL match. All you’ll hear while playing is the sound of the umpire’s whistle and the dull murmur of the crowd, who we’re sure think they are attending a funeral rather than a football match.

Gameplay is just as dull as the crowd. The controls are fine, but unresponsive and the game has many little gameplay quirks that add together to create a frustrating experience. For starters, when the ball is kicked it lofts in the air and the camera cannot keep up, this means if you’re going for a mark you’re just hoping the game decides to award you the mark. The umpiring is terrible and inaccurate at times. Whenever you tackle a player with the ball it will always result in a free kick for holding the ball, however if you tackle the player while they are bouncing the ball the player is allowed to just go on, which is against the new AFL rules. There is a kicking meter down the bottom of the screen for determining how far the ball will go and due to the incredibly poor gameplay the ball will just about always head straight. The difficulty level has been toned down too, and even upon your first match you’ll probably win convincingly with barely any effort. There are many other poor gameplay elements of the game too numerous to mention, such as the slow handballs and poor ball physics, but we think we’ve made our point on the gameplay by now.

Missed from that far out? You're kidding.

Missed from that far out? You're kidding.
One of the gameplay omissions that is simply one of the worst is the lack of an on screen map of the ground. This is an extremely poor oversight that just has to be mentioned. We can only imagine how bad it would be playing PES without a map down the bottom or racing in Gran Turismo without knowing what sort of corner is coming up? This is an unforgivable omission that makes the game that much harder, because while you’re playing you’ll just be bombing the ball downfield 90% of the time and then hoping you mark the ball (not that you get a say in the matter).

Those hoping that the smaller screen of the PSP would at least result in an attractive game are sure to be disappointed. AFL Challenge is an ugly game. As previously mentioned the grounds are boring and you never get close up shots of players, so aside from a bar down the bottom telling you who you are in control of, you never really feel like you’re in control of an AFL superstar. We can definitely understand the appeal of an AFL game in your pocket but with such poor gameplay and incredibly silly development choices there are no redeeming features of AFL Challenge for us to even remotely consider recommending the game.
The Score
AFL Challenge is a dud of the game that not even an AFL fan would enjoy. 1
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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4 years ago

What the deuce?
4 years ago
Consider this a cameo review icon_wink.gif. I just felt the game was so awful i just had to get my opinion out.
4 years ago
The NRL game isn't much better. You can score a 100m try every play, even with the forwards, lol.
4 years ago
and here was i was about to come in here and get angry at someone for thread necromancy....
4 years ago
Phreakuency wrote
The NRL game isn't much better. You can score a 100m try every play, even with the forwards, lol.
So true.

The tatic of getting past everyone and shoving away anyone else trying to stop me worked every single time.

Both NRL and AFL versions of the game have the same title music, and it's painful.
4 years ago
Yep, I bought the NRL game and got it refunded the next day. So bad that you wonder why they even bothered releasing it.
4 years ago
Honestly Luke I feel bad that you gave this game a score. Seriously this deserves a 0 it is an absolute joke that this could be released and they ask people to hand over $50.
4 years ago
It's very sad that the best AFL video games are still those from over a decade ago - AFL on the NES and AFL 99 on PS1. icon_sad.gif
4 years ago
This review is as poorly conceived as the game it addresses. It needed serious editing, as it doesn't read well, nor does it convey your argument well at all. Perhaps it's only fair, given how little effort the game's developers exercised, that this review is similarly half-assed.
4 years ago
I wish we could get a good Aussie Rules game.

My dream is for one with controls stolen from PES Wii. Those who have played that game will know what I'm talking about.
4 years ago
PALGN wrote
Ah, Swannies. The only real team.


legend166 wrote
My dream is for one with controls stolen from PES Wii. Those who have played that game will know what I'm talking about.
i know exactly what you're talking about!
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  10/09/2009 (Confirmed)
  Tru Blu Entertainment
Year Made:

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