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Manchester United - Premier League Champions logo  CU Amiga Screen Star


It may have one of the longest names ever, but Tony Dillon finds Krisalis' latest football foray is every bit as good as the other snappier titles.

Manchester United - Premier League Champions If there was ever a good reason for a software company to experiment with various types of football simulation, it has to be a hit licence. Can there be anyone, apart from Audiogenic with their Emlyn Hughes' season of games, who made more use of a soccer licence than Krisalis? I could attempt to list all the ways in which they have used the Manchster United name, but I fear I would run out of room. Some have been amazing, some have been dreadful, but Manchester United Premier League Champions is one of the best.

THE STEP OVER THE CLIFF
Some would say that Krisalis went as far as they could with the old side on, forced perspective view. Others would say that particular style of football game went out with the Commodore 64. Both parties will be happy to know that the latest release is a top-down approach, as used in practically every football game since Kick Off. if you thought that arcade football games had run out of new tricks to play, Manchester United Premier League Champions which from this point will be known as MUPLC to save wear and tear on my keyboard, will most definitely surprise you.

At first glance, it bears more in relation to Sensible Soccer than anything else. The players are quite small on screen, there is very little on-screen information (no scanner, the score only appears at important points in the match, along with the current time) and it can get quite fast and frantic. The teams have distinctive strips, and the ball is greatly affected by the type of pitch it is rolling on. There is a school of though that says Sensible Soccer is as far as this type of game can go before it becomes unplayable. I agree, but this still gets a huge mark due to all the work that actually goes on behind the scenes, rather than on the pitch itself.

If you have a licence of a real world team, then it makes perfect sense to set your game in the real world too. Every team in here, and there are hundreds to choose from, are all real teams with real players and, get this, real abilities. A Third Division team would never stand a chance against a Premier Division one, and that is shown in this game. Try to pit the two against each other, and you will discover for yourself exactly how outclassed you can be.

GET REAL MAN
The realism of the game has to be one of its strong points. By using real players, that are as up to date as it is possible to be, the game has its own built in difficulty level. If you are beginner to the game, then you should be able to hold your own against only the worst of the bottom division teams. As you progress through the game and become more competent, you will find the higher leagues easier and easier to play against until you can beat everyone.

Manchester United - Premier League Champions Possibly this game's biggest strength is a single tactical screen called the Tactigrid. This marvelous invention allows you to tailor your formation and instruct individual players in a way never before seen in a computer football game. Forget programmed set pieces, throw away any preconceived notions about having fifteen different formations to play with. The Tactigrid allows you to program the exact way your team plays, from how wide you want a defender to wing, to how many midfield players should run forward when it looks like game is going on the attack. On the Tactigrid screen you select your team from the full squad not just the first team by browsing through their statistics covering aspects such as stamina, speed and intelligence, and then you can set the overall layout of your play.

Thankfully, this screen can be pulled up at any point in the match, so you can change your playing tactics at any point. There is no better way to turn a match around, as I found when playing against an experienced human opponent for the first time. Within no time at all, I found that I could run the ball down the wing and then chip it into the box for an almost guaranteed goal every time. Half time cam, and my opponent moved his midfield players wide while bringing his defenders back into the box. In the second half I couldn't even get into the box, let alone score from it. This is really what makes the game as challenging as it is, and is the one facet that will bring you back to play it again and again.

Of course, you might actually be wondering what the game is really like to play. Surprisingly good, although the speed of the game might take a little adjusting to. It all seems to run a lot faster than previous games, particularly on the dry or frosty pitches, and the ball spends a lot less time in the air than it does in other games. What makes it so playable is the fact that the team works like a team. Players are where you would realistically expect them to be, responding to the flow of the game properly, instead of returning to some preset mark on the pitch as soon as they are off screen.

MUPLC is one hell of a good football game. Although the actual match itself might not be as smooth or fluid as Sensible Soccer, and the controls might not be as comprehensive as Goal!, the tactical side of the game gives you far more control over your team than either of those. One worth having in your collection.

CU Amiga, March 1994, p.p.76-77

MANAGEABLE HAIR
Something I've never been accused of having, but a weak link into one of the more unusual parts of the game. Along with all the usual fantasy league and cups that are par for the course with these games, Manchester United Premier League Champions features all sorts of other little charts, showing your progress through the leagues and seasons, lists of top goalscorers, highest scoring teams and all sorts of gubbins designed to appeal to the more managerial minded players out there. Funnily enough, the only difference between this and a managerial game is the buying and selling players option. Maybe it is saved for the sequel!

EASIER THAN SETTING THE TIMER
Like Sensible Soccer, MUPLC features an instant replay feature that lets you wind back from an especially impressive goal and watch it over and over again. If you like, you can watch it in slow motion, follow the action by focussing on a specific player, and even watch the action from the other side of the goal! Depending on the amount of memory you have, you can wind right back to the start of the match and watch the entire thing in slow motion. I can't think any better way to wind up your mates!

KRISALIS 25.99
A500
A1500
A500+
A2000
A600
A3000
A1200
A4000
KRISALIS, TEQUE HOUSE, MASONS YARD, DOWNS ROAD, MOORGATE, ROTHERHAM S60 2HD. TEL: 0709 372290
 
RELEASE DATE:
GENRE:
TEAM:
CONTROLS:
NUMBER OF DISKS:
NUMBER OF PLAYERS:
HARD DISK INSTALLABLE:
MEMORY:
 
MARCH
SOCCER
IN HOUSE
JOYSTICK
2
1-2
NO
1Mb

 
GRAPHICS
SOUND
LASTABILITY
PLAYABILITY

82%
79%
89%
91%
Krisalis take the football game that little bit further.
OVERALL: 90%