Bobby Robson’s revenge
Kick Off 2 represents the cumulation of the developments seen in those other programs I have already mentioned. Thanks to this, it plays more like Player Manager than Kick Off, but without the management bits, naturally.
An interesting gimmick is the ability of three or four players to play against each other at the same time, with the aid of a joystick adapter. While creating frantic fun, the experience does not really bear repeating as everyone plays in position, resulting in all fruitlessly chasing the ball. Casting that ability aside, the Kick Off 2 player can indulge ina simple one-off game, a one-off game between two of eight international teams, an eight man international league, and eight man international knockout cup, or a special event (more of later).
On an options menu the player can decide to set the time limit (three mins per half minimum), the pitch type (normal, wet, plastic and soggy, each with its own pitch graphics), skill level of each team, tactics for each team, extra time in the cup competition, after touch or not (yes, if you want to score against the good computer teams), league skill level, game speed, and choice of referee.
Quite a line up, and there are more options on other menus, including a nice one that allows you to change the strip design of a team, along with its colours.
On the simple one-off games, you can load your own tactics from Player Manager, as well as your own PM teams. While this means that your fave team can take on your mates using your own tactics, it unfortunately stops there.
While I can understand the limitation of not allowing you Player Manager team to take part in the league, cup or special event, it seems pretty stupid that the tactics cannot be used. In fact, although you are offered a number of tactics from the options menu, you can only use the standard four in the league, cup and special events. Disappointing is not a word for it.
Actually, on the pitch the Player Manager gameplay has been tightened up so that you are unlikely to hit the ball over from six yards.
Unfortunately, the goalkeepers are now far too good. There are just two ways of being fairly sure of scoring, but getting into position to do either is very difficult. This results in goalkeeping errors deciding many games, and 0-0 draws proliferating when playing the computer.
Now this goes against the grain of what the original program was all about. The fact that the player cannot dribble properly, made the speed of play and scoring of goals the greatest attribute of Kick Off. The speed of Kick Off 2 is less, no longer blindingly fast, merely quick, and goals are hard to come by. Sure, it is far more of a challenge and there is great variety, but I feel something has been lost.
Meanwhile, the other changes on the pitch include variable strength corners, controllable goal kicks and throw ins, the ability to change formation whenever the ball goes out of play, and Brazilian style taking of free kicks in front of goal. There is also an action replay to review any goals you do manage to score, and save them to disk to prove it later.
The special event menu allows new competitions to be loaded from expansion disk, but gives you the World Cup to be going with. All the right teams in all the right groups are on offer, and you can change them around if you wish.
Having played all of these teams it strikes me that Dino does not have much clue about the strength of international football squads. The Italians are far too weak, and the Rumanians and Austrians particularly too strong.
At least there is some balance and challenge for all skill levels in this competition. Getting Cameroon or the United Arab Emirates through the first round is an achievement, while players of Brazil should get at least to the quarterfinals.
Another bug with this section of the game is that it rarely allows you to alter formation from 4-2-4 that is incredibly annoying.
So there you are, there is a lot packed into Kick Off 2, and with the prospect of up to 25 expansion disks from Anco, you could be playing it for years. However, scoring is hard, far too hard for any but experts, and there are still some aspects of the gameplay that I would like to see changed. Kick Off 3 remains a possibility.
Until then I say go out and buy your Kick Off 2, it is a very good game for all my minor niggles. Better than the original? I say no, but then I have completely mastered that, so Kick Off 2 provides a much needed challenge and, of course, a chance for England to be world champions.
Amiga Computing, Volume 3 Issue 4, September 1990, p.40-41
ANCO £19.95 * Joystick
ne year after an original that set the games-playing world alight, the much-anticipated sequel has made its appearance. Kick Off 2 looks set to follow on from Kick Off, but with a host of new features to enhance the superb gameplay. Question is, has Dino Dini been to ambitious? Has he screwed up?
To start with, up to four players can play simultaneously (two players against two players). There is a league competition so loads of you can all compete together. There is a cup tournament, so you can knock your friends out and grab the glory, and there is also the World Cup tournament so you can persuade 23 other people to take a team each.
The gameplay enhancements include a new spotted ball, different match surfaces (including platic and soggy), the ability to change the team strip, the choice of long or short throw-ins and possibly one of the biggest differences – the introduction of defence walls during free kicks.
There is also a new control touch added to the ball, called aftertouch. The player is now able to bend the ball slightly after it has been kicked by holding the joystick in a certain position, which can be very effective but does take a lot of practice.
The other main improvements include the ability to load in teams from Player Manager (the first real follow-up to Kick Off, for one player, which contained a whole management game) so you can play your lovingly-created team in the league against an other team that someone else has spent blood, sweat, tears and lots of money building up. Now the player can also have control over the strength and direction of corner and goal kicks.
The majority of play is much the same as before. Each team contains – of course – 11 players and the player you are controlling is highlighted by a line beneath his feet. As in Player Manager you have a choice between controlling the whole team, in which case control switches constantly to the player nearest the ball, or playing in one position.
Once you have gained possession of the ball your man automatically dribbles it and passes and shots are made by pressing the fire button and holding the joystick in various positions. Controlling your team takes a while to get used to, but practice really does make perfect and after a while your handling of the player improves significantly.
Amiga Format, Issue 13, August 1990, p.p.38-39
GRAPHICS AND SOUND
Spot effects, such as the ball thuds and the crowd cheers, are excellent. The graphics are great too. The action is all viewed from above, which works very well for a game of this nature. The sprites are well defined and wonderfully animated and the pitch graphics are highly detailed including observations such as muddy areas in the goalmouth on soggy pitches and a squeaky-clean surface on plastic pitches. The graphics and sound mix together extremely well and compliment play brilliantly.
Anco, Amiga £24.95 (including World Cup '90 - £19.95 without)
he long awaited sequel of the 'Amiga Game Of 1989' (as voted by you) boasts a huge array of new options including an optional World Cup Tournament. As in the original, matches are played on an overhead view, scrolling pitch with a 'radar'-scanner showing the positions of off-screen players. Unlike most other football sims, the ball doesn't stick to players' feet for dribbling - it must be pushed along manually. As well as shooting, passing, heading and chipping, improvements to the control system allow you to swerve the ball and perform scissor-kicks.
Tackling is achieved by running into the front of the player in possession or by performing a sliding tackle. However, if mistimed, the latter can cause a foul: sometimes punished by a yellow or red card and, in the box, by a penalty kick. A new feature is the setpiece freekick which occurs when a player is fouled just outside the opposition's box. By moving the joystick with fire, several types of freekick can be attempted including stepping over the ball, passing to a nearby player or putting left/right bias on the kick. Aftertouch allows the ball to be swerved and dipped - useful for bending the ball around the wall of defensive players which automatically lines up.
Before a match you get to select your team members from the squad (including two subs which can be put on at any time). Starting tactics can also be chosen although these may be changed at any time during the match. You can choose to play either for the whole team (switching between players) or in position (controlling just one player).
The game includes a Kick Off-style league of eight teams, knockout cup, and practice mode. There are options to change pitch type (affecting the behaviour of the ball), wind speed, match duration, and tactics (four can be chose from the eight available or others loaded in from Player Manager), and skill level (including one which allows you to load a team from Player Manager). The Kit Design option allow you to design your team's kit, choosing the strip style (plain, stripes, hoops, etc.) and colours.
Finally, the Special Events option allows you to load future data discs including the optionally built-in World Cup tournament. This has all 24 teams (in their correct groups), any of which can be player-controlled.
Zzap, Issue 64, August 1990, p.p.76-77