And this is the one! For my money, Adidas Championship Football is the best of this year offerings celebrating the Most important Event in The World.
All the elements are there, from the excitement of the draw, through the early rounds, right up to the huge finale. And every stage is handled with the flair and style you'd expect to see from an international-standard team like Ocean.
You can opt to play against a mate or battle through the entire set of computer-controlled countries on your own.
The selection process is pretty straightforward - friendly, but straightforward. It's on the pitch where Adidas stands head and shoulders above the competition.
The screen scrolls extremely smoothly and the players (some in plain shirts, some in checks) run around at an entirely respectable rate. The action is better paced than the other titles we've seen this month. In fact, it almost up to Kick Off 16 bit quality.
An arrow follows the player currently under control. The computer automatically switches your control to the player nearest the ball.
A gauge in each corner of the screen offers useful information about your player. The lower indicates his running ability (or state of fatigue). The lower this bar gets, the slower your man runs. This discourages over-use of star players and actually forces you to pass the ball. The top gauge indicates the style and strength of kick. The longer you hold the fire-button, the higher the gauge-reading and the harder the kick. Once the strength of the shot is determined, you can opt for a lob or a ground-level shot.
Once all these parameters are in place, the next time your player hits the ball, the ball will act in the specified manner. The only thing you now have to worry about is running toward the ball at the correct angle.
Getting to grips with the ball control took some time, I have to admit, but once I'd got the hang of it, there were no worries.
Goalkeepers are entirely under your control. Once an opposing attacker gets into the area with the ball, a simple left or right will make the keeper dive. So long as you're paying attention your (exceptionally tall) keeper should keep the onion bag largely free of balls. Obviously in games as important as these, tempers are bound to get a little strained and, now and again, people will end up on the floor. So it's a good job the Ref is on hand to dish out cards (Yellow and Fatal) to the offending ruffians. Such instances pop up in little bottom-right boxes.
The lower half of the screen is reserved for score-line information, remaining time on the clock (variable at your whim), who is currently "with" the ball and what position he plays.
There's also a commentary line which throws up the most toe-curling platitudes on top of the usual info of who's been booked, who won the throw in etc "The keeper was daydreaming" indeed.
It you're after endless screens full of stats and strategy, forget it. If, however, you want a realistic World Cup series of events and a thoroughly sound football arcade game: Adidas Championship Soccer is your man, er, men.
Reviewer: Jim Douglas
Excellent presentation. Great gameplay. Lots of detail too.