Until the point when I scored my first goal, Euro Soccer seemed fine. I must admit to being miffed when - As I was preparing to kick off - upon hearing the whistle, three members of the computer's team ran up to my centre-forward, kicked him in the shins, relieved him of the ball and proceeded with it towards my goal line.
But I'm no stranger to injustice, and the incident was quickly forgotten as I warmed to the Euro Soccer way of doing things. The players, while a little gangly, have a splendid repertoire of smoothly animated leaps, slides, lunges, headers and, er, whatever it's called when you bounce the ball off your chest - those things. There's a proper referee running about, too. And the crowd seemed wonderfully enthusiastic, chanting, roaring and cheering as appropriate. I was in a buoyant mood therefore, as I re-acquired the ball, dribbled it up the pitch, dodged the defence, reached the penalty area, lined up and shot, kicked, and...
And it was then that, deep in my subconscious, a little alarm bell began to ring. Although I did, in fact, appear to have scored - the crowd were hysterical, and the score was 1-0 - the ball hadn't technically entered the goal mouth, actually having become lodged in mid-air just above the line.
More to the point, what had happened to my goal keeper? My shot had merely been of the probing, testing-the-waters variety, taken from a fair distance out and gently arcing towards the goalie - an easy catch. But he'd just stood there, oblivious. It transpires that, apart from the occasional movement of inspiration (I'd love to know how, for example, every once in a while they're able to stop a ball that's a good five feet away from their fingertips),
Euro Soccer goalkeepers are uniformly useless (It's a kind of Zen thing - Ed). This is all very fine and dandy when they belong to the opposing team, but a real bummer when they're all that's between your goal and the ball, and they certainly make you appreciate the faster-than-lightning reflexes of the keepers in that certain other football game.
Your team stand around like garden gnomes
Then there's the air of bad sportsmanship that pervades the game. I was prepared to put that first foul down to boyish high spirits, the excitement of the opening minutes, but they just went on and on doing it. And the ref didn't bat an eyelid. My players were falling like flies, so I decided to return fire, and soon discovered that the only way to take the ball from another Euro Soccer player is to bring him down with a hard kick in the back of the knees and trample over his recumbent body. There's no such thing as a fair tackle in this game, so perhaps it's just as well there are no free kicks or penalties either.
And how on earth does Euro Soccer decide which player to give you control of at any particular instance? The first choice generally seems to be the chap who's lying on the ground, clutching his shins from the last time he dared to take possession. Then, if that doesn't seem to work out, control most likely passes to the fellow who's some distance behind the opposing player (who, by this time, is well into your penalty area) with no reasonable chance of catching up with him.
And finally, as an absolute last resort, you might just (just) be allowed to make use of the guy who's standing directly in the path of the oncoming player, though usually by now it's too late for that and it's all up to your goalie (i.e. you're another goal down). Needless to say, while all this is going on, the rest of your team are standing around like garden gnomes.
There are loads of other things I want to get off my chest (like the way the scrolling rarely keeps up with the ball, or the huge amount of disk accessing between matches - inexcusable in a game that demands one meg of memory, or the silly cartoon drawings that crop up from time to time and are completely out of keeping with the rest of the game) but space is tight, so I'll just point that, if it's a side-view football game you're after, Man United Europe would be a far more sensible choice.