Australian Stadiums in the virtual world

Joel Smith  |  Monday 1st July 2019

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Australia is home to many iconic stadiums, so it is no surprise to see some of them featured in the virtual world, on popular video games.

We review some different genres of games that deliver accurate recreations of some of Australia’s most recognisable stadiums and sports venues.

Formula One

Game: F1 2019
Venue: Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit

Albert Park launches the F1 season in real life, so it is no different on the game that provides the most realistic gaming portrayal of motorsport. The Melbourne circuit has welcomed the F1 tour since 1996, and while the track hasn’t changed throughout that period, the grandstands and facilities have. Regular viewers will be incredibly familiar with its twists and turns when playing the game.

Of course, F1 2019 brings an accurate depiction of the circuit itself in incredible detail, but does it deliver an atmosphere worthy of the real Albert Park? As is often the case on virtual representations of sporting venues, the fans feel somewhat lifeless. Given that it would be unreasonable to expect an animator to produce thousands of unique individuals for background shots, this is not a huge issue in the game.

However, F1 2019 excels at giving each track its own distinctive character. The overall environment of Albert Park is instantly recognisable, while the race itself could be mistaken for a television broadcast, such is the quality of the graphics. Released earlier this year, there is no doubt that F1 2019 is the premier motorsport game and a great way to experience Albert Park as if you are one of the drivers.

Tennis

Game: AO Tennis
Venue: Melbourne Park

The world has been crying out for a successful tennis simulation for years. Unfortunately, AO Tennis isn’t it. Reviews have generally criticised the game, which was released at the start of 2018 to much excitement. Gameplay has left most players unsatisfied, while the lack of choice within the game doesn’t provide a true reflection of the ATP tour.

However, it isn’t all bad. The Australian Open is the only fully-licensed Grand Slam on the game, which gives players a chance to effectively step into Rod Laver Arena against the likes of Rafael Nadal and Australia’s-own Ash Barty. While AO Tennis may disappoint in some respects, its graphics are commendable.

IGN’s negative review includes one clear positive comment, that the in-game recreation of Rod Laver Arena is well-realised. While the other courts appear cookie-cutter, AO Tennis clearly didn’t skimp on the time or effort to give players a proper Rod Laver experience. Even if the overall career mode may underwhelm, AO Tennis’ strongest playing experience comes during the tournament featured in the game’s title.

Casino games

Game: Table games and slots
Venue: Casinos

F1 2019 is as close as most of us mere mortals will get to driving a Formula One car. However, despite the richly detailed graphics and a genuine sense of thrill, you’re unlikely to get swept up in the action and think that you are driving a real Formula One car. Online casinos are different in this sense - the stakes remain the same as in physical casinos.

Many casino websites bring a vibe reminiscent of the land-based casinos you’d expect to find in Melbourne or Sydney, adopting a classy design to recreate the luxury side of card games. Blackjack is just one of many games you can play at online casino sites, with the selection of table games similar to what you’d find in a physical gaming venue.

Slots are where virtual casinos really press home their advantage over their land-based counterparts. While a room can only hold so many slot machines, an online casino can host an ever-expanding library of virtual games. The bustling atmosphere of a physical venue may be lost, but the glamour and choice of online casinos is fair compensation.

AFL

Game: AFL Evolution
Venue: 16 AFL Stadiums

AFL Evolution was released in 2017, and naturally includes the clubs and stadiums featured in that season. This means that gamers can play matches in 16 different venues, including the Adelaide Oval, the MCG and the Gabba. While AO Tennis was able to prioritise the Australian Open, AFL Evolution was expected to recreate each stadium with equal accuracy.

Otherwise, you’d end up annoying a whole ton of fans if just one stadium looked nothing like its real-life counterpart. Fortunately, Wicked Witch Software knocked it out of the park in providing a faithful recreation of each stadium, which will please fans of all AFL sides. While the crowds are - of course - more limited in their realism, the most important thing is that they are not jarring or a distraction.

Many of the stadiums look particularly spectacular during evening fixtures, so playing under the lights always bring a certain charm. The action on the field is the most significant aspect of a game like AFL Evolution, but the accuracy of the stadiums is integral to a game’s escapist qualities.

Realistic depictions of stadiums can make you feel like you’re watching a real game on television, but you’re controlling all of the players. While the success of the overall gameplay may vary, each of these games excels in delivering some immersive qualities.

What next?

We’re yet to see an Australian Stadium feature on arguably the world’s most popular video game.. while FIFA 19 includes some of the best stadiums around the world, there are none from Australia. Venues that would fit in well may include Bankwest Stadium, AAMI Park, Suncorp Stadium or the new Sydney Football Stadium.

 

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