Viele Fußball-Versoftungen sind ja so spannend wie ein torloses Unentschieden, doch bei Empire hat man sich ein paar witzige und ungewöhnliche Features einfallen lassen – das (Leder-) Ei des Kolumbus?
Das Optionsangebot ist zunächst noch recht konventionell: Training, ein Freundscahftsspiel und die Endrunde der WM (bis zu acht Fans dürfen hier ihre Lieblingself aus den 24 Teilnehmnern übernehmen) sind vorhanden. Neben der einstellbaren Matchdauer wurde an verschiedene Taktiken, Auswechslungen und eine Replay-Funktion gedacht. Dazu kommen zwei Steuerungsmodi, wobei der Ball entweder dribbelfreundlich an den Füßen der Kicker klebt oder die Pässe im etwas kniffligeren Stil von „Kick Off“ getreten werden. Aber die Möglichkeit, einen von neun „Special Moves“ (vom Superschuß bis zur Option, vorübergehend alle Kontrahenten ungestraft über den Haufen rennen zu können) auszusuchen, findet man wohl in keinem anderen Spiel dieser Art!
Bei den Begegnungen wird dann vertikal gekickt; auf einem flott in alle Richtungen scrollenden Ausschnitt des Grüns tummeln sich ungewöhnlich große Sprites. Daß der Ball dabei schon mal den Screen verläßt, sorgt allerdings nicht gerade für Übersicht, und auch beim Paßspiel muß oft blind agiert werden. An der Steuerung selbst ist hingegen wenig auszusetzen, denn auf einen Wink mit dem Stöckchen folgen umgehend Tacklings, Kopfbälle oder Schüße. Hübsch sind auch die in manchen Spielsituationen auftauchenden Comic-Zwischenbilder, außerdem gibt es fetzige Musik und Sound-FX für echte Stadionatmosphäre.
Unter dem Strich also eine schnelle, launige und spielbare Action-Bolzerei, die ihrem PC-Gegenstück (dort gibt es Ergebnisse wie 46-0) deutlich überlegen ist. (st)
Amiga Joker, August 1994, p.92
Game: Empire Soccer
Runs on: A500, A600, A1200
Release: Out now
hen I first saw this game previewed in the PC Gamer office a couple of months ago, I have got to admit that I was underwhelmingly unimpressed. The pitch looked too small and the animation of the huge sprites seemed stiff and unwieldy. The gameplay lacked depth and mainly consisted of both players trying to out dribble the other before unleashing a shot. All in all, it looked like fodder for a hatchet job ("A game fit for authoritative, in-depth review" - Ed). That is why I was not looking forward to the game coming in at all.
How astoundingly smotheringly surprising then that this is going to be the only the second time ever that I have awarded a game 90 per cent. But why? There are so many football games around at this particular moment in time that any new one has to offer something really special even to find itself kicked into the 80 per cent AP stratosphere.
The reason for Empire Soccer’s exceptional score is simple: gameplay. And depth, and fun, and lastability. Do not let the initial impression of superficiality put you off. This is merely a pointer to the ease with which you can pick up the game and immediately start playing. Trust me.
("Cam" – Uncle Joe Stalin) criticisms were aimed mainly at the apparent shallowness of the game. "It is one of those grab-the-ball-and-dribble-it-through things, isn’t it?. Simplistic drivel that crumbles before the mighty powers of Sensi", he sneered. An obvious comment, but one steeped in specious logic. Empire Soccer wallows in (admittedly hidden) depth. Fairly predictably, but none the less welcome for it, each of the 32 teams plays differently. (But you can equalise their abilities for a straightforward match). Bettering Speedball 2, there are five team formations to master, from a wholeheartedly aggressive 5-3-2 to a weedily protective 2-4-4. And (best of all) there are special powers. Basically you can beef up your play with an unstoppable Power Drive, improve your goal kicking chances with Snap Shot, baffle interceptions with the Banana Shot, litter the pitch with unconscious opponents with Super Barge, carve furrows in the mud with Speed Burst, or fox tackles with Super Dribble. It all adds to the zingy unreality of the game, allowing you to (for example) score fantastically exaggerated comic book curving goals, or blast the ball three-quarters of the length of the field to your waiting shooter, which is a Good Thing. Even so, you can turn off the special powers if you feel it is Just Not Football. Blinkered fools.
And, yes, you can indeed dribble the ball up the field and run it into goal, but only if your opponents have inexplicably forgotten how to tackle. Such tactics can also be quashed by de-velcroing your boots and switching to the "professional" game, which demands a passing style of play that will appeal to those who really cannot be torn away from Sensi.
Empire Soccer is a far more arcadey (but not simplistic) game, with the emphasis on cartoony larger-than-lifeness (though not at the expense of playability). In fact, if you load up Sensi after playing Empire Soccer for a bit, Sensi seems sedate, slow, tiny and pedestrian by comparison. It is a weird perception. Imagine the following by way of analogy. You have just been on a roller-coaster, or the Corkscrew, or the Black Hole or whatever. As soon as you get off and plant your feet on solid ground, the rest of the world feels distinctly odd for a couple of minutes. That is what it is like playing Sensi after Empire Soccer - distinctly odd.
So go on, buy this game. If you do, it can only encourage Graftgold to do better next time. Because it is not perfect. There are quite a few Sensi and Speedball 2 features that could be further bolted on to make it one of the best games of all time, the most important of which would be the ability to customise and personalise your own football teams. I would love to be able to play as (Nngh. – Ed) Kilmarnock FC.
Amiga Power, Issue 40, August 1994, p.p.42-43
"Get off and plant your feet"
World Cup fever passes boiling point as Empire Software join in the fun. Tony Dillon screws his studs in once more.
Oh no", I cried. Not another one, please! "But you are Games Editor", said the rest of the team, "and for the privilege of playing all the latest games, you have to review your share of the soccer ones." "But I can't", I called back from my pit of desperation, "I've seen everything there is to see in a football game, and there is no way I can think of anything original to write!" "Don't you worry", came Big Al's soothing tones, "this one will be different. This one is original. This one has nothing to do with Sensible Soccer."
Well, as they always say, the Ed knows best, and it looks like this time he was right yet again (okay, enough grovelling –Alan). Empire Software are the latest in a very long line of software houses to release a soccer game based upon the World Cup, and like Sierra Soccer before them it has enough original points to make it worth a look.
Empire Soccer is very different. If I were to compare it to anything, it would have to be the original Sensible Software soccer game, MicroProse Soccer or even the old arcade classic Fighting Soccer. It has very large sprites, way out of scale with the rest of the pitch, who can only do a small number of different kicks and tackles. It has a comical referee who trips, falls over and can even be fouled. The goalkeeper can receive a back pass, and then run as an attacker to the other end of the pitch, where, if you play him well, he can even score! This is certainly not the most realistic or accurate football game ever, and that is the main reason why I like it so much.
This game requires almost no practice at all before you can race all over the pitch, passing smoothly and chopping down other players here, there and everywhere. It's simple. It's fun. You can play anyone at it, and as long as they know how to use a joystick, they've got a fighting chance of beating you. If I were to compare football games to card games, then Empire Soccer is to Goal! what Snap is to Bridge!
It isn't as smooth and fluid as Sensible Soccer. It doesn't have many options as Goal!. It wasn't programmed by Dino Dini, or based on any real licence, but at the end the day Empire Soccer is a damn fun game, and that makes it a winner my book.
CU Amiga, July 1994, p.p.79