Bring me to the main page   Bring me to the Reviews Index

Empire soccer logo

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?

Empire soccer 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

Amiga Joker
1 MB

Empire soccer logo

Game: Empire Soccer
Runs on: A500, A600, A1200
Publisher: Empire
Authors: Graftgold
Price: £26
Release: Out now

W Empire soccer 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.
Before I begin waxing lyrical about how much fun you can have with Empire Soccer. I will discuss and definitely dismiss some of the criticisms aimed at the game by a couple of fellow journos – namely, ("Cam" – Uncle Joe Stalin) and JD.

JD said he found the restricted view a bit limiting. I would agree: a restricted view has spoiled many a footy game, and Empire Soccer is limited in the strictest dictionary sense of the word. Take, for example, the kick off. There is just about enough space to fit the centre circle in. But (and this is an absolutely unignorable gargantuan, but) look at that gamedozer among games, Speedball 2. Its view is every bt as peripherally limited as Empire Soccer, but it detracts from the game not one infinitesimally imploded iota. After a trifling amount of practice you know exactly where your players are going to be as you hoof out a pass, and the larger sprites make for a more easily-followed, zippier game.

("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.

By now, you may have guessed that I like Empire Soccer a lot. I have refrained from the inevitable footballing comparison cliché of, "It’s good, but not as good as Sensi". (So it is not really inevitable then. – Ed.). It is not trying to be Sensi - the only thing the two games have in common is the word "soccer" in the title and the objective of trying to score more goals than your opponent.

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.
But these are only small gripes. Empire Soccer, as it stands here and now, is a fast, fabulous, fantastic, frolicsome, fruitini, fandango, flavoursome footballing fest. Do your friends, your Amiga and, most of all, yourself a favour. Even if you have got Sensi, grab hold of Empire Soccer today. It is a winner.

Amiga Power, Issue 40, August 1994, p.p.42-43

"Get off and plant your feet"

Upper UPPERS Speed, playability, fun, involvement, hidden depth, special powers, variable formations, team line-ups, strategies and tactics. Booked players have a little yellow card displayed on their shoulder so that you know to hold back from heavy tackles (but do not).
Downer DOWNERS Irritating copy protection. You cannot customise your own teams or individual names of players. Replays are too short and you cannot save them to disk. Special powers can be tricky to use. The whistle will blow for half- or full-time even if you are lining up for a free kick. There is room for improvement: individual player stats, leagues and that customisation, off the top of my head. And, bizarrely, you get only two points for a win instead of three.

It is Speedball 2 for footy fans (or footy for Speedball 2 fans, if you like). A great fun, hugely playable game that is well worth buying, but with just enough nibbly faults to warrant a Version 1.1. How about it, Graftgold?



A1200 No 1200 specific version yet, but such a game demands the ability to use a CD32 joypad. Clamours for it, in fact.

Empire soccer logo CU Amiga Screen Star

World Cup fever passes
boiling point as Empire Software join in the fun. Tony Dillon screws his studs in once more.

Empire soccer " 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.
To begin with, though, I would like to make it clear immediately that this is not the most sensible soccer game ever, and I mean that with no pun intended. Up until now, and in fact since the dawn of computer soccer games, developers have strived to make their game the fastest, the most accurate, the most realistic, the most controllable, the game with the most moves in the world and so on, and to be honest quite a few of them seem to have lost the plot along the way, dropping straightforward playability in favour of fifteen different types of bicycle kick and more complicated joystick manoeuvres than a left-handed game of Mortal Kombat.

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!
The big concern is, of course, how long will you play it for? Obviously. if it takes no time at all to get into, then there should be every chance that it will also take no time at all to get out of. This would probably be true were it not such a great two-player game. Like any good soccer game, after a few minutes of play you find yourself on the edge of your seat, leaning into the screen and mentally shouting at your players to get the ball, if not actually shout out loud!

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


Before each match you can choose the special ability you want your team to have. Naturally, if you have two completely mismatched teams, then you are going to need some kind of extra feature to even things out slightly, and Empire have added quite a few special moves to make playing last that little bit more interesting. There's the Super Barge, for example, which when selected makes any player you come in contact with collapse on the ground. Or Super Dribbling, which makes the ball stick to your feet for a limited amount of time. There are also banana shots and Super Shots, which fire the ball at five times normal speed towards the goal. One of the game's most original features, this adds an extra layer of fun to an already smart game.

EMPIRE £29.99
A truly fun soccer game, with some very interesting twists.