Review: AFL Evolution 2

Wicked Witch Software and Tru Blu Entertainment have given Australian Rules fans a gloriously unrefined gem.


Newcomers to the sport of Australian Rules Football will certainly find the game a little chaotic at first, before coming to grips with the structure of the game. “All Australian” veterans will quickly notice that a lot of the gameplay and visual effects have been reused from the original AFL Evolution.

It is easy to see from the first bounce that it simply lacks that final refinement and attention to detail. The camera proves a particular pain point throughout the game, with the viewing angle a source of frustration as well as the visual ‘glitches’ whereby the camera angle switches between an ‘End to End’ view on a kick out, back to a ‘Side View’ when the player chooses to run the ball out. It can be particularly frustrating as the player will have to adjust the direction being pushed in order to take into account the change of camera angle before being tackled.


For a game that has been released late in this generation of consoles, gamers will be quick to point out that the visuals in the game lack those of other games being released. The level of textures used in the game is somewhat disappointing, given the attention to detail in the layouts of the grounds, whilst there is an accurate representation of all the AFL grounds, the sparseness of the flyover shots detract from the hard work gone into bringing these venues to life.


An omission from the game is the lack of famous grounds that have served to add to the rich history of the game. Missing from the game are grounds such as Punt Road Oval, Subiacco Oval, Junction Road Oval, the WACA and Whitten Oval. With the inclusion of the AFLW in the game, an inclusion of these ‘suburban’ grounds packed to the rafters with fans would have added to the ambiance of the game.


One notable inclusion in this release is AFL Gameday, an attempt to bring the game into alignment with the AFL’s 2020 season. The player is able to select to replay the matches that have been played in the previous AFL round and relive the agony or the ecstasy of the match. Players are also able to select which quarter they wish to ‘start’ the match, providing the ability to stage that memorable comeback to right the wrongs of the prior weekends results will certainly resonate with footy fans.


Also included in AFL Gameday is “Team of the Week ” where the player is able to pit their skills against the best 22 of the AFL for that week. “Evo Data ” is used to deploy weekly updates to the game throughout the season at no cost to the player, providing a platform seen in other sports games on the market adds to the depth provided in AFL Evolution 2.


Sadly, with the state of the world, players will have to wait to see regular updates to the AFL Gameday section of AFL Evolution 2, but luckily for them, a multiplayer section has been included to allow players to take on other players in either ranked or unranked games, as well as providing a private match where you can team up or square off against your mates in a couch session or an isolation couch session.


Multiplayer is a great way to experience the organised chaos that is AFL Football, with the ability to add up to 4 players locally and up to a maximum of 8 players in total. This opens the game up to competing with other sporting games offering the ability to team up online. Players will quickly note the shortcomings of the multiplayer offering however, with only a single match being offered at a time. Lacking from this online aspect of the game is the ability to play a season online with friends, compete in a short competition or use your created pro in an aforementioned online season or competition. 

As a standard offering, players are given a selection of game modes to satisfy their football hunger with either a single season or as fans of AFL Evolution will know, the Career mode. There has been no addition to the three standard career options, with players being able to play an existing players’ career, a rookie players career (and by rookie, they mean created player) or as a coach. The bulk of the games action can be found in Career mode, with players able to progress their created player, or an existing player, through their career in pursuit of Tony “Plugger” Locketts’ 1360 goal kicking record and of course, the championship flag.


AFL Evolution 2 offers a wider selection of playable competitions with the ability to compete in any of the AFLW, VFL, SANFL, WAFL, NEAFL and Under 18’s Leagues, allowing the player to enjoy the full experience of an AFL, or AFLW career. Players who opt to start at the under 18’s level are able to enter the draft prior to starting their AFL career but sadly this is reserved for the men’s competitions only. The AFLW draft has been left out and it has a detrimental effect on the games appeal to its female fanbase.


The depth of the game in Career mode is a great way to experience the highs and lows of AFL Evolution 2, none more so than in Coach mode. Allowing you control of the club, from its pricing strategy, to its auxiliary staff hiring strategy, right down to the team tactics and injury management. The ability to appeal at the tribunal makes a return in AFL Evolution 2, but again it is a bit hit and miss and adds no real value to the game other than a simple game of chance as to whether or not your player is successful in appealing the charge.


The team management screen has received an update, along with the tactics screen and whilst it has received a visual update, it really wastes valuable space, with the next opponents logo taking up 50% of the visual real estate. The implementation of the team management section in Career mode means that players will need to adjust the team lineup and tactics week-to-week, which can be laborious for those who want to differ from the default settings imposed by the game.


If you love your footy, you will love the Fanhub! The Fanhub makes a return, allowing players to add and upload to the wider AFL Evolution community, their created players, teams and now guernsey. This is a fantastic way to extend the replayability of the game with players from all over the world having added their favourite AFL player from yester-year to the list of players to download. 


Want to relive this year’s bushfire relief match with the two teams involved? Well, you can! As both teams have been uploaded to the fanhub ready to use in a single match or even in the competitions.


The guernsey creator is a wonderful addition to the game, providing players the ability to recreate their favourite guernsey from seasons past or even their local team. Players will also find some big names available for download in the fanhub, names such as Didak, Akermanis, Carey, Ling, Bartel and Dunstall all make an appearance thanks to the wonderful AFL Evolution 2 player community who have spent hours meticulously recreating the games most celebrated characters and stars.


Gameplay in general has been given a boost, with the game feeling faster and more responsive, just like the real thing. The contests are given a boost with some wonderful cinematics during open play, however, they are also a source of pain. The animations of throwing a ‘hip and shoulder’ are far too drawn out, leading to a sequence which looks out of place and clunky. The fluidity of bumping another player off the ball is simply not there and honestly looks a bit awkward – although, its most satisfying landing one on an opponent that leads to a goal.


The AI leaves a lot to be desired. Going from Rising-Star to Senior can see you on the end of some brutal results as the scale of difficulty jumps up a major notch. When playing in “Control Your Pro” mode, calling for the ball when the player’s teammate is not directly facing the controlled player results in the AI kicking the stuffing out of the ball in the direction they are facing, this can cause no end of frustration when chances to get the ball in this mode can prove few and far between to begin with.


In addition to the poor AI in the “Control Your Pro” mode, the AI in the AFLW is simply infuriating. Whilst the Women’s game does result in lower scores and does not have the quality that the Men’s game does, having the AI in the Women’s game differ so drastically is a bit on the nose. Some of the AFLW player ratings are far higher than the Men’s players, for example  Erin Phillips is rated 99, yet during an AFLW game the amount of times the ball is kicked out on the full or a “shank” is observed far exceeds those seen in any of the Men’s matches.


The kicking mechanics from set shots have seen slight improvements and being able to bang home a torpedo punt from 50 meters is one of the simple delights in life, especially when you are unable to kick a ball 20 meters in real life. The offering of snap, drop, banana stab and torpedo punts accurately reflect the real life action on the field and knowing which kick to use in what situation adds to the gameplay as getting it wrong could lead to a turn over or, as in real life, could lead to a miracle goal from nothing.


Players will quickly notice the “magnet effect” when attempting skill moves such as tackling and ‘hip and shoulders’. Whilst they are all part of the game, it can be a little unrealistic when the player is tackled by another player who is 10 meters away. The same can be said for the ‘hip and shoulder’ mechanics, where the player “magnets to” the other player for the animation to take place.

Unfortunately for fans of ‘Big’ Denis Commetti, he takes no part in the commentary for AFL Evolution 2, with ‘Richo’ also getting the boot, replaced by Anthony Hudson and Gary Lyon respectively. After playing a few games the commentary may seem refreshing until you start to notice the, again, unrefined finish of the product with the sound bites being mashed together to form a commentary that sounds like it is from the days of Microsoft Sam and the text to speech reader. A clunky delivery of the commentary from ‘Huddo’, in what can only be described as a teenager going through puberty, will see the player surely adjusting the volume of the commentary faster than the ridiculously overpowered speed rating of Ben Stratton.


As with the initial offering of AFL Evolution, the games soundtrack offers a few bangers, this time round from Aussie Indie Rock group British India. Sadly, the limited number of tracks available means that the songs are played every 10 minutes on repeat. When playing through a season or trying to plan the lineup and tactics for the next game, it can become a bit of an annoyance.


Overall, AFL Evolution 2 will be a welcome sight for AFL fans who have waited far too long to see the next installment. Whilst there are good and bads to the delivery of the final product, this one will have you coming back for more to see you through the long winter without the 2020 season being played.


A hit for fans of the franchise, but a miss for the developers who could have spent more time polishing the final product into a truly enjoyable and memorable game. In an unprecedented age where there is no live sport being played, with a little more work this game could have been seen as a hidden gem, rather than the unrefined, unpolished one that it feels like.


Final Verdict

+ Ability to replicate all the various goal kicking types seen in the real life game.

+ Customisation is fantastic and deepens the gameplay.

+ Being able to take a speccie in a pack contest.


– The magnet effect for gameplay mechanics.

– Handball mechanics are a bit off when in traffic.

– Everyone in the stands has the same face and animation.

– The AI can be cumbersome and at times comically poor.

– The gameplay camera settings. Particularly at Blundstone Arena from a kick out.

– The visual bugs during the cinematics and the poor quality textures.

Score: 6 / 10

Keg for One More Game

‘A review code was provided for the purpose of this review. All thoughts are ours and ours alone’

1 Comment

  • Tyler Fox October 12, 2021

    Good Job

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