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Timothy Closs
Sport: Action
ZX Spectrum 48K
Firebird BleepLoad

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Rikard Jones
Chris Bourne

Well blow me over and strike me down if it isn't another football simulation. Could it be something to do with the time of year? Nah. This is Silverbird's offering to the genre and not only is it on budget - it's a pretty spiffy game too.

The reason why European 5- A-Side is more interesting than all the other budget soccer efforts is immediately apparent - it looks at the game from a completely different angle ie; a bird's eye view rather than the usual camera side-on view. This has meant a slightly different approach to the graphics - particularly the ball movement.

Better still the sound effects are quite incredible with digitized speech providing a commentary on the game - check out of the David Coleman-meets-the-Daleks rendition of "G-Goal", not to mention the other stuff it pumps out.

The gameplay is strong. You control one man at a time. The man currently under control is indicated by a large arrow above his head. To pass the ball you tap the fire button once. The ball will only go as far as you want relative to on how fast you were running at the time.

For those dramatic goal shots you can get a long range lob shot by keeping your thumb on the fire key a bit longer. The lob shot is particularly impressive because you actually get the feeling that the ball is being blasted high into the air (it gets bigger as it comes towards you) much preferable to that "oh no it's not another blob moving about the screen." you get with most football games.

This being five a side, if you don't fancy the direct approach you can always blast the ball against the wall. This gives you a sort of ricochet effect. At first the computer play is a bit stupid, its defence could be generously described as 'sloppy'. But don't let that fool you, because the Speccy has one killer player. This is the goalie, he is no ordinary Joe, no siree. This goalie has been taking lessons from Peter Shilton and Gordon Banks and he's virtually unbeatable. When the goalie saves a shot he lobs it upfield for the centre forwards to start a counter attack. This sort of thing can be quite effective ("I was robbed, Saint, robbed")

There are criticisms; where this game fails is in its animation, which is very slow. This is probably due to having too many sprites on the screen at one time. Worse still, once you have clocked the game a few times there are no higher computer play still levels so that's it. Siiverbird has tried though with a pitch colour changer and options to change the game at half time to last from 3 mins to 5 mins or even 10 mins.

Label: Silverbird
Author: Timothy Closs
Price: £1.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Rikard Jones

Good, but not as good as it could have been.