Kurt Warner's Arena Football Unleashed Preview

Midway has licensed the teams and players of the Arena Football League for its upcoming NFL Blitz-based arena football game.

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Have you ever seen arena football on television? Unless you're an insomniac with an addiction to ESPN2, you probably haven't. Arena football takes all the rules of real NFL football and shrinks it down. There are fewer players on the field, the arena is around half as long as a normal football field, and there's no such thing as punting. If a field goal doesn't make it through the goalposts, it bounces off a net and back into play. Midway has licensed the teams and players of the Arena Football League for its upcoming NFL Blitz-based arena football game, which is known as Kurt Warner's Arena Football Unleashed. Warner appears on the Iowa team that he used to play for before becoming the star quarterback of the St. Louis Rams.

The game is based on standard AFL rules. However, you can alter these rules as you see fit. You can change things like game time and first-down distance. Also, the standard NFL Blitz rules (or lack thereof) apply. So anything goes - from dives over the line to stomping on the small of your opponent's back. The game plays nearly identically to NFL Blitz 2000, with its audibles, kick meter, and four-player abilities. Some of the old Blitz plays appear in an altered form. The post-play violence has been pumped up to the level that Blitz had before the NFL forced Midway to tone it down, so moves like the Quan Chi stomp from Mortal Kombat 4 are in the game, as well as lots of punches and kicks. When it comes to features, the game is comparable to NFL Blitz 2000, featuring offensive and defensive play editors, an arcade mode, a tournament mode, and a season mode.

Since the field is smaller, the game can run a bit faster, and the PlayStation version's graphics are a bit sharper than NFL Blitz 2000's. The sound is similar, though lots of rebound noises have been added to account for the wall around the field. The commentary is similar in style to Blitz, though it's now done by Larry Beil, the official voice of the AFL. The game also features a halftime show, consisting of a short, cheerleader-laden FMV clip.

Overall, this preview version is exactly like Blitz but on a smaller field, which leads to higher-scoring games. We'll have to wait to see if the game further distinguishes itself from Midway's popular NFL-licensed series.Ben Stahl's Gameplay Impressions:

I've spent some time with Midway's latest over-the-top sports creation, Arena Football, as they're currently calling it. It was odd to play a game that felt so much like NFL Blitz 2000 and yet had so many differences.

The first thing you'll notice when you start playing is that unless you're an Arena Football junkie, you probably have never heard of any of the teams. But once you select the team you want, the game shifts back to that familiar Blitz style. There's the secret-code entry as you're waiting for the game to start, and there's even the standard Blitz noises as the help screens explain how to play.The field is a great deal smaller now, and there are fewer players on it. This leads to a whole lot of new running plays, since you have one less receiver. In the build I played there was a significantly fewer number of offensive and defensive plays available - in fact there was only one defensive play. Since the majority of Blitz players only choose one defensive play anyway, this wasn't too surprising.

The graphics were a bit crisper than NFL Blitz 2000's, and the violence has just gone off the scale. There's now a longer period of time after the end of a play, giving you plenty of time to get wicked on whoever is unfortunate enough to have the ball.

I have to say that the halftime show is simply hysterical. It features some crazy moving backgrounds and some blue-screen work featuring a busty cheerleader. I honestly don't know what Midway is thinking with this one, but I really think it needs to stay in the final game.

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