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CCS
1984
Sport: Management
£5.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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45,46
Chris Bourne

There are now a number of football management simulations around of which the most famous is undoubtedly Addictive's Football Manager, a consistent and long-lived chart topper. C.C.S. have always been noted for their strategy and management games - can they beat Addictive? The game is played in a somewhat different manner, although the ultimate objective is much the same - take your. Fourth Division team to the top to win the League Championship.

Once loaded, the program offers a choice of buying, selling, renaming and training players, choosing a team, a disciplinary status, list of fixtures, display League table, scouting and a save facility. You start with no players and ?6,500,000 to spend. A table of 20 available players is called up which numbers them, tells you whether they are young, prime, mature or old, whether they are goalkeepers, sweepers, defenders, midfield or forwards. Each is shown with a strength rating depending on their level of skill, and then their price. Apprentices cost nothing and play their first four games at a level of 0 before becoming classed as young players with a level of 2.

Morally speaking, your selected team is all clean at the start, that is, they haven 't been disciplined. Before a match, you may decide how hard you want them to play from 0 (Clean) to 10 (Dirty). The harder the selected level the better your team's chances are, but you run the risk of penalisation and even a player being suspended. To prevent unbalanced teams the total strength rating of any group within the team, ie. Goalie plus sweeper, defence, midfield, forwards, must not exceed three times the strength of any other.

Having selected a team, decided on how dirty they are to play, and in which of your team you wish your allocated advantage strengths to be stressed, the match as selected in the fixtures may be played. In United, the graphics representation is seen from the top and the match mechanism is such that shots are shown: the object of selecting your team carefully is to ensure that you get the maximum number of shots, each of which is 'tested' against the opposing team. Shots are won when an area of your team is stronger than its complementary area in the opposition.

Each shot is tested first against the sweeper (if there is one). Any shots that get past him will then be tested against the goalkeeper. These edited highlights may be watched in full with each real-time minute taking approximately 4 seconds on screen, or it may be skipped over to the result by pressing CAPS SHIFT and S together.

As each week goes by you receive value points, and the more successful you are the more VPs you win. You need these to raise cash and to be able to train members of your team, thus raising their strength status, or to go scouting, which will give you valuable insights into other teams' strengths and composition.

CRITICISM

'I would have to say at the start that I am fan of neither football nor football strategy games, and consequently found United a rather daunting prospect. I also found the allocation of hard play and advantage strengths a bit difficult to understand. Neither are all that well described in the otherwise excellent instructions on the inlay. However, having mastered that to some degree, the game began to turn out pleasant, and eventually even fun. With increasing numbers of value points it was possible to do more things and some of the built-in strategical elements began to come into play, extending the enjoyment. The match graphics are not stunning but nevertheless the tension mounts with the minutes ticking away. '

'This football simulation can be summed up by saying that the strategies etc. are better than Football Manager and much more involved. But the actual working and graphics are worse. So choice is a matter of opinion. The game is very slow (as is the actual match). Generally I preferred Football Manager, but it's close enough for opinions to vary.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: general input
Responses: generally good to input although there are parts of the program which do take time
Use of colour: not much but sensible
Graphics: mainly text, match highlights very simple
Sound: restricted to entry beeps in the main
Skill levels: 1
Features: via one of the program authors it is possible to play Postal United, address and details on the inlay
General Rating: Above average on strategies, poorer on the graphics but overall an enjoyable simulation.

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