Ever fancied being a Terry Venables or a Brian Clough? Well Football Manager 2 allows you to manage a football team of your own, buying and selling players and choosing tactics. The game has been written by Kevin Toms, the man who programmed the original some years ago.
The player can choose to manage any league team, but no matter which, must start humbly in Division 4. The team for the next match is selected by moving players out of the reserve pool into various positions on the field where the opponents players are also shown. There are three team selection screens, one each for defence, midfield and attack; the way players are positioned allows for various formations.
Each individual player has a skill rating: the higher the skill the better he can tackle and dribble. Each player also has a position in which he prefers to play. A player out of position has an arbitrary skill rating of two, reducing his effectiveness. Each player's fitness level is also shown. If it falls below 50%, he must be rested from match play to recover.
As well as choosing the team, the manager must also choose two substitutes which can be brought on at half time if needed. The team formation can also be altered during half time.
When the team has been chosen, the match action is displayed over three sections of the pitch, shown individually depending upon where the ball is. The players run around the pitch automatically, dribbling, tackling and shooting. If a goal is scored the name of the scorer is given. After the match the other results in the division are also shown, followed by a league table. Apart from playing league matches, the team also take part in the FA and League Cups.
Each week some players come into the transfer market and the manager can make a bid for any of them. Players can also be sold to raise cash and reduce the wage bill.
The finance screen shows the profitability of the club. Gate receipts, wages and overheads are shown along with the weekly balance.
'I'm not a great fan of football management games but I did quite enjoy playing this. It has more to offer in the way of graphics, is easier to use than most other football games and is also well presented. The player selection is easy to use and not confusing at all. And with all the little pictures that are used in the game, you never get a boring screen just full of text. When the match is played, all the players move around the screen well but there is the usual colour clash which is to be expected. Football Manager 2 is a great improvement over Football Manager because of all the enhancements Addictive have put into it. You can now do man to man marking, there's a full 92- team league and a display of who has scored. For all you Football Manager fans, Football Manager 2 is an essential purchase.'
NICK ... 72%
'It's take a long time for the sequel to the classic original to arrive but Kevin Toms has managed to make a big Improvement to it. The graphics are good for this type of game with plenty of little players running about the screen, although there is a lot of colour clash. The best thing is the positioning of the players and the fact that they appear in the right area of the field during the game. The way the teams actually play isn't exactly brilliant with the players bunching up and all chasing the ball at the same time (a bit like Wimbledon without the fouls). However, the standard of graphics isn't that important in this type of game. The transfer system works well, as do the various tactical options such as extra training. Little of the play seems to be random so strategy works well. The game really keeps your interest as you feel you have some control over the way the team plays; the best game of this type yet.'
PHIL ... 80%
'And as far as I was concerned Football Manager was the best thing since Clive Sinclair. But now things have changed, there are games such as The Double and Football Director available through mall order, so Football Manager 2 is well overdue. The sequel isn't just Football Manager with a few extras, it's a complete revamp of the old game. Kevin Toms has obvious looked at all the football strategy games around and taken what few good points they have. Then he's looked at the whole concept of sports strategy games and added a new dimension to it, making it more appealing to a wider range of people. People criticised the graphics in Football Manager, so they've been improved. But games of this genre shouldn't be judged on their graphical appeal - strategy games are all about planning and that's where Football Manager 2 is so good. If you plan your tactics realistically then you'll get realistic results - along with a few random elements thrown in (football is a funny old game). Real football fans everywhere will love it; it may not have mass appeal, but it's a leader in its field.'
PAUL ... 82%
: Kempston, SinclairGraphics
: poor, with colour clash, but purely functionalSound
: limited spot effects for acknowledgement onlyOptions
: nine difficulty levels, choice of 92 teamsGeneral Rating:
One for all fans of the very poplar football genre - top of the league!
Whatever is Whelan doing in goal with Chris Woods at left back?
Defeat looms over West Brom.