A QUADRUPLE QUANTITY OF FOOTY FUN
Code Masters' first full-price game is actually a package of four games. As well as the typical 11-a-side game, there's also street soccer, indoor 5-a-side soccer and soccer skills.
The first three involve playing a match in various surroundings. Each scrolling pitch is viewed from overhead, but at a slight angle for a pseudo 3-D effect. One player is controlled and if in possession of the ball, dribbling is automatic. Control of a player can either be manual (by moving a marker over the desired player) or automatic (the computer selecting the player nearest the ball - although by pressing fire, it changes to the next nearest).
Unlike Match Day II, there's no 'kickometer'. Instead, the strength of kick is determined by the direction and speed of the player. Movement of players is also made more realistic by the inclusion of momentum, so if running fast in one direction they take time slowing down before turning.
Another unusual (but realistic) feature is the ability to foul players by tackling them from behind Wimbledon-style. Luckily, in both the 11-a-side and indoor games, a trusty referee is on hand to award free kicks and penalties. But in street soccer, fouls result in arguments between the teams, portrayed by speech bubbles! Another unique feature of street soccer is the makeshift pitch, namely the middle of the high street! Obstacles such as walls and even a car, can be used to bounce the ball off -this version also brings a new meaning to the phrase 'fouling on the pavement'!
Another novel feature is that up to four players can play simultaneously, two per side (three can also play: two on one team against another single player). And if you don't think you're fit for the match, you can do some hard training in the soccer skills game. Events include dribbling around cones, penalty-taking and goalkeeping. You can also lift weights and do various other exercises in a race against the clock.
All in all, although matchplay isn't quite as fluent or varied as in Match Day II, four games in one represents very good value for money - and what other footy sim offers four-player action?
PHIL ... 80%
Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: smoothly scrolling pitch, with four very distinct sections
Sound: an assortment of suitable tunes, effects and the essential ref's whistle
Options: manual/auto player selection. Up to four players can compete simultaneously
'I'm not a great one for footy games, in fact I hate them but this isn't too bad. The porky footballers thunder around the pitch very well, and certainly put the boot in. But if you get bored with the footballing action you can test your fitness in the gym with a grueling training session. Not a brilliant game perhaps, but certainly well-programmed and bound to appeal to football hooligans everywhere - see Phil's comment.'
MARK ... 60%
'The first in Code Masters' new series kicks it off to a good start. All four games are excellently implemented with detailed, monochrome sprites and backgrounds, plus the odd splotch of colour between games. There's the usual Code Masters Jolly music and plenty of sound effects. What I liked best, though, was how the kids argued after a foul in Street Football with comic-strip expletives deleted. A worthy alternative to Match Day II.'
NICK ... 84%General Rating:
With essentially four games in one, this is excellent value for money.
IF IN DOUBT...
... kick it out. Unless, in indoor or street soccer, when you should bounce the ball off the barrier/fences to confuse the opposition.If you're winning, play defensive to preserve your lead.Try playing with manual/automatic selection to see which you prefer.Don't ask Bobby Robson for any advice!