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Bobby Robson’s revenge

Kick Off 2 logo

G Kick off 2 OAAAALLLL! The tradition cry of foreign football commentators, and players of Kick Off. The fastest and best football game ever. After experimenting with Extra Time, and playing around with Player Manager, Dino Dinner (sorry, Dini), has perfected his art with Kick Off 2. Or has he? To be honest, no.
Now before you rush for the poison quills listen up, and hear the tale of how a brilliant program has become more complex, more difficult, more challenging, but not necessarily better.

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.

Kick Off 2 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.
Duncan Evans

Amiga Computing, Volume 3 Issue 4, September 1990, p.40-41

Kick Off 2
Aura 10 out of 15
Graphics 13 out of 15
Gameplay 12 out of 15
Value 14 out of 15
Overall - 81%

Kick Off 2 logo  Amiga Format Gold

ANCO £19.95 * Joystick

O Kick Off 2 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.
Andy Smith

Amiga Format, Issue 13, August 1990, p.p.38-39

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.

Well, Brian, this will run and run. It is perfect for ‘booting up’ (groan!) whenever you fancy either a quick 10 minutes or a good hour or three. In years to come this won’t be sitting on your shelf collecting dust, because you will be still playing it.

If you do not own Kick Off, go for this instead. If you do already own it or own Player Manager it is still well worth considering. This is the best footy game to have appeared on any machine and the beauty of the game is the fact that it just plays so damn well. Novices will enjoy it right from the start and it is surprising just how skilful a player can become after just a few short weeks.
Last year, here at Future Publishing, Kick Off inspired us to start a league which grew into a four-division affair with 32 players taking part – even people who had never played any game before! The league grew into a Cup tournament and hardly any work was done for months – the game actually became officially banned during working hours. Now there is talk of re-starting the whole thing again with Kick Off 2. You cannot get a much harder recommendation than that.


Kick Off 2 logo  Zzap! Sizzler

Anco, Amiga £24.95 (including World Cup '90 - £19.95 without)
Kick Off 2 T 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.
If you score a great goal you can replay it at slow or normal speed and save it on a blank disk. Saved goals can even be edited to compile a 'Golden Goals' disk.

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).
For Single or International Friendly matches, up to four players can take part (one or two versus two) using a Microdeal joystick adapter. Alternatively, two players can team up against a computer opponent.

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

Robin Hogg Although I'm not the best of footballers this is the best game I've seen this month. It goes without saying that the sequel to Phil's fave is by far and away the best footie game yet seen on a microcomputer. The core of the program (the actual football match itself) initially doesn't seem all that different from a Kick Off and Extra Time but once you experience the flexibility of taking free kicks, goal kicks and corners you quickly realise just how far advanced the sequel is over a the original. As expected it plays brilliantly as a two-player game but now with a four-player mode it's out of this world. The Action Replay feature can quickly make friends into enemies as goal scorers relish their victory (and then have the nerve to save the goal to disk!).
What I want to know is, what happened to the promised animated linesmen and ref? And what about a country-specific league, or the FA Cup? But I guess I'm being very, very picky, Kick Off 2 is a great sequel and not just a revamp of the original. A big jump over a Kick Off- and a massive leap over all other football games around. I'm over the moon, Greavsie!

Scorelord There's no escaping the World Cup, with even Kick Off 2 coming with it - for an extra £5. Other additions include masses of useful stuff from saving replays to designing team uniforms - Phil's are particularly ghastly, a form of visual terrorism!
But what about the game itself? Initially it seems very disappointing - not seeming that much different, other than being slower. However the more you play it, the better it gets. Simply blasting the ball down the pitch and relying on lightning reactions for a goal won't do anymore. Now you've got to slowly build up your moves - accurate passing and smart tactics are vital. All this means it's less of an arcade game, and much more of a football sim. I was a bit disappointed by this, until I started getting the hang of it. Then the game really came alive, with some great midfield action. Tackling, passing and dummying the goalie (who comes out almost as much as Columbia's goalie!), are all much important. There's also the much-appreciated ability to cripple the opposition's star player. FIFA might not like it, but I certainly enjoyed spilling a bit of blood! All in all, the best football game has got even better!

Phil King I loved the original so when I heard about a sequel I wondered how it could possibly be improved. Well, the great news is that somehow Dino Dini has managed to put all the best features of Kick Off, Extra Time and Player Manager (along with many new ones) into one game.
The basic high-speed arcade action of Kick Off has been retained but the sequel is a far more realistic game of football. The basic control system has been tweaked with optional aftertouch. A major improvement is the addition of setpiece freekicks: they're totally realistic with before- and aftertouch allowing infinite variety, and they also discourage 'professional' fouling just outside the box! Corner kicks have also been made more difficult (and realistic) by the power function. One of the most frustrating aspects of the original was when your computer-controlled goalie or throw-in taker would sometimes give the ball straight to the opposition, so the player-controlled goalkicks and throw-ins are very welcome.
Being a Player Manager fan, I appreciated the way teams and tactics created in the game can be loaded up for two-player games to settle arguments about who's got the best team. The inclusion of many other aesthetic options (I love creating flashy kit designs) and the optional World Cup tournament is the icing on the cake for the PERFECT football game.

6 4
A full review next issue.
u p d a t e

An incredible array of options, accessed by user-friendly menus. Good manual.
Slightly improved over Kick Off with different pitch types and 'designer' strips!
Limited to whistle and crowd FX.
As instantly playable and addictive as the original. Extra fun with three or four players.
The many options create extra variety - and no two matches are ever the same.
The ultimate football sim.