1988
Sport: Management
£9.99
Multiple languages (see individual downloads)
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

96,97
Graham Taylor
Chris Bourne

Football Manager was ridiculously successful. It was successful on the ZX81, successful on the Spectrum, successful on everything else and then it proved successful for a second time on budget. The thing is, in this age of multicoloured, high speed, ultra smooth sprites, it looked like complete dung. But it played brilliantly.

What to expect then of FM2? Would it look better and play worse? Would they dare to get away with such dodgy graphics in 1988? Would it be glossy and naff? No! It's great! It still looks a bit tatty around the edges (couldn't you have redesigned the character set even Kevin?) and the actual football bit, though definitely improved - they don't look like sticks any more - is not exactly state of the art. However, actual gameplay is even better!

Football Manager 2 it should be stressed, is, like the original, not actually a game in which you play football at all. You just make all the decisions for your team and then watch the events unfold in animated 'edited highlights' of the match. If this sounds dull then a) you obviously haven't played the original b) you underestimate the degree to which the matches really reflect your choices.

At the start of the game you can choose whether to accept membership money. (Hold out for a better offer if you have the nerve). You pick your team, start in the fourth division and by wise buying, selling and training of players, plus a little luck you win matches, make money and buy better players and... you get the picture. If you're lucky, you make money and climb the divisions, if not...

The differences between FM2 and FM1 are summarised elsewhere. The real difference is the way your decision over formation and player selection affects the match very directly. If, for example, you are forced to put a weak player in midfield you can 'see' the weakness in the play highlights. It's very impressive.

This game has everything - injuries to cope with, players' fitness and passing styles to be analysed, finance reports (later on you can even invest in a new stadium if you have the dosh)!. You play both league and cup matches and have to plan accordingly... you might want to 'rest' a key player for a league match if an important cup tie is coming up - get him fitter and take your chances with the less important match. That the game takes this into account and that it really does make a visible difference is the reason the game is so good.

FM2 is all FM1 was and more, the graphics are (a bit) better, although that would never be a reason to play this game, there are a few extra features but what is really astounding is the sheer playability. My favourite strategy game on the Spectrum, no contest.

Label: Addictive
Author: Kevin Toms
Price: £9.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Graham Taylor

An improvement on a legendary game. It still looks a little tatty but plays brilliantly.

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PLAYING TIPS

Mark man for man - don't put a weak player next to a strong one.

Don't play out of position - players only perform well when doing what they are best at.

Match players to formation - if it is designed for a strong attack make sure you have one!

When bidding for players don't underbid too much - you won't win.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THIS AND THE ORIGINAL

You can choose players' positions.

Play graphics are better.

There are even more management elements - like sponsorship and improving your ground.

You can play for both football cups.

You can use substitutes at half time to replace weak players.

You can specifically train players' passing skills and adapt them from match to match.