And the tinkering doesn't stop after the finals. The game's career mode also allows you to initiate player trades once the September action is over, as well as take part in the preseason draft. The draft itself is very detailed, with the new players broken down into player types (such as ruckmen, forwards, and so on) that let you easily choose players to complement your team. You can, of course, let the game do all of this automatically, although we'd suggest you don't, as the AI will often allow some insane trades.
Outside of the career mode, AFL Premiership 2006 has quick match, single match, and season mode, which plays through only one season. New to the franchise is a training mode, which is essentially a single match that occasionally pauses the game to dish out some play instructions. It's a nice feature, but it would have been nice to see a more dedicated training mode that let you practise the basic skills of the game, such as kicking and passing.
The major new game mode addition to 2006 is the mission mode. Missions dip into the recent real-life history of each of the 16 AFL teams and presents you with a scenario to emulate. For example, the Sydney Swans mission takes you back to the last quarter of the 2005 Grand Final and tasks you with repeating history by wining the game. Geelong fans get to relive the heartbreaking semifinal loss to the Swans last year, but this time they're required to win the last quarter instead of losing it in the dying seconds. The missions themselves are a fun addition, but since there is only one for each team, it's a relatively short-lived feature.
Those looking for graphical finesse will find little joy in AFL Premiership 2006. All of the players still sport the blocky features seen in last year's effort and bear little to no resemblance to their real-life counterparts. Jerky animations are the order of the day, with the players' movements unrealistic for the most part. Odd graphical bugs also pop up from time to time--it's not uncommon to see players running straight through each other, and the strange, disembodied boundary-line pom-poms from last year's game make a return appearance. Audio is similarly patchy. AFL Premiership 2006 does feature some nice commentary from the likes of Dennis Commeti, Dermott Brereton, and Christie Malthouse, but you will have heard the same phrases over and over again by the time you're a few games through.
Despite its many limitations, AFL Premiership 2006 plays much better than its predecessor and is an easier game to recommend for those who must have an AFL video game in their lives. Everyone else, particularly those used to the slick gameplay and presentation of other sports franchises, should probably stay away and cross their fingers in the hope that next year's AFL video game offering is a vast improvement.
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