Lordy! It's started. The spate of football games that plague us in the summer have begun to arrive and the latest is European Superleague.
But hold on, this is rather good as its a management game rather than a 'watch 22 stick figures hobble around a green screen' affair. And despite being a management game with no arcade elements, this one's full of graphics and generally seems, well, trendy.
Firstly, you're asked to choose one of the three difficulty levels and pick one of the eight teams available to manage: Arsenal, Rangers. Barcelona, AC Milan. Marseilles. Bayern Munich, Liverpool and PSV Eindhoven. The aim of the game is simple: to be managing the European Champions by the end of the season. Although this need not be the team you started with, as managers can transfer from team to team, as can the players.
All the actions and decisions come from your office in which there's a desk, a telephone, an intercom, filing cabinets and other things. By clicking on the objects you control your environment. The telephone connects you to the trainer, other managers and the local newspaper. The intercom summons your secretary, the groundsman and a talent scout.
Weekly schedules are set out in your diary and these have to be carefully adhered to because if you miss a training session or a board meeting the chairman brands you a slacker and fires you.
Each player is allowed 20 hours of training per week, so it's best to make sure they've done their full quota before a Saturday match - being thrashed 12-0 is a tad embarrassing.
The match itself is more of a running commentary than a game; a few well drawn screens appear along with the text. Depending on the final score, the chairman will either praise or tear you apart at Monday's meeting.
Even though I'm no great lover of football manager games I found European Superleague great fun to play. There are plenty of options to choose from so you don't become easily bored. In fact you're kept very busy indeed, balancing the books, sorting out team tactics and training, buying and selling players... the list is endless. The graphics are also top notch, especially the 'snapshots' that appear during a game.
I agree totally with Nick: this is one of the best football management games around.
MARK … 78%
'To make a football management game interesting to play you need to represent the options and decisions you make with lots of detailed graphics. That's exactly what's been done with European Superleague. Even if you don't know the lint thing about managing a football team you can get into this straight away. There are different sprites for each player, managers of other teams and the press, which are shown on different backgrounds for each part of the game. You start on in the board room chatting to the big boss and can visit the training field, decide on tactics and swot up on the team account by the touch of a pointer on the office screen. Many management games are let down by the way they represent the actual game of football. Instead of boring text telling you what's happened, you get snapshots of the match, showing winning goals and miraculous saves. European Superleague is one of the best management games I've come across in ages.'
NICK ... 82%
Finally! A football management game that's well presented, looks good, and above all is entertaining.
Don't look now it's the Chairman of the Board - let's hope he's happy with your team's performance.