European Superleague logo

CDS £24.99 * Mouse

For this bold new attempt to re-mould the tired computer football management game, CDS ought to be commended. It's a format which has suffered dreadful standardization and an accusing finger can confidently be pointed at the lack of imagination from those who think the world begins and ends with Kevin Toms' tired Football Manager.

The revitalised appeal of European Superleague doesn't simply rely on the fact that it features AC Milan instead of Charlton Athletic. The difference lies in approach. Rather than opt for strategy - the heavyweight number-crunching of usual games - CDS have decided on a genuine football management simulation.

It's based within a point-and-click graphical environment and set at a football ground. You are the manager and from your office you can summon or visit players and staff. You can also contact other managers and even the press via the telephone.

The real idea is to interact successfully with everybody, to be popular as well as cunning. To hell with the hackneyed jibes of "the lads gave a hundred percent, Brian" - football management is no breeze. If you fail to comply with certain social mores, the effects will work their way through to the dressing room and, more problematically, to the pitch.

You are also working against the clock. European Superleague is based on the working week. On Monday you must arrange training schedules and lay yourself bare before the unpleasant chairman (is there any other kind?). On Thursday you must pick the team, on Friday you must work out Saturday's tactics in anticipation of your opponent's strengths and weaknesses.

But it's what you don't have to do that seems to count. Going down to training sessions, rather than arranging them from your office, will not harm morale. Telling the chairman to stick to his own business puts your job on the line, but the players will love you.

It is this level of genuine human interaction which makes European Superleague such a novelty. When talking to your coach, groundsman, scout or the press you will be offered various replies to click on. Say the coach reckons you are pushing the lads too hard. You can agree with him, suggest he's over-reacting, or decide that this kind of pressure is exactly what the boys need.

Another delight is that all the teams feature real players. So Waddle plays for Marseille, Grobelaar for Liverpool, Ancellotti for AC Milan and Walters for Rangers. You can call any other manager and offer any fee for any player - this is much better than waiting for all the rubbish to turn up on the transfer market.

Each player has a file (with an inaccurate picture) detailing the normal attributes and faults. It is your job to patch up weaknesses and encourage strengths of individual players. This is achieved by arranging each player's training schedule for each day of the week. This can become rather a tiresome chore, but is important.

Tactically, Euro Superleague offers simple graphical options. So if you click on a flashing 4:4:2 option you will then be offered 16 different strategic plans (presented graphically). For example, you may wish to play the midfield wide, mark hard in defence, and encourage forwards to run at the opponent's defence. This would be a good idea when playing Rangers at Ibrox. The game will allow you to pick five such options.

Superleague's main fault is that after an exhausting week being the boss, the match itself fails to create much excitement. Matches last about 30 seconds and, while bing pretty representations, fail to conjure up butterflies in the stomach, or the kind of rage displayed by players of other footie management games.

GRAPHICS AND SOUND

You are presented with a series of static screens which, while they are drawn impressively, are hardly inspiring. Sound is restricted to the odd whistle blowing or telephone ringing. And that's about it.

LASTING INTEREST

It doesn't take long to get into the swing of things and, if you can handle the drawn-out process of setting training schedules, you'll probably have a lot of fun. The only problem is that, being set around a working week, the game does begin to feel like a slog, especially when things arn't going well.

JUDGEMENT

The user-friendly interface has left little room for the plain, stolid strategy of older management games: it is actually to CDS's credit that you are left wishing that the game could offer more interaction. No doubt this effort will be seen as desperately limited in a few years, but it's a step in the right direction now. Check it out.


Ein Leben für den Sport...

European Superleague logo

Auch wenn die WM schon wieder Schnee von vorgestern ist, Fußball bleibt der Volkssport Nr.1. Nicht nur bei uns, sondern auch in England, wo dieses neue Manager Game das Licht der Software-Welt erblickte. Und die Programmierer dürfen wirklich stolz auf ihren Sprößling sein!

Die erste Entscheidung, die der zukünftige Manager zu treffen hat, ist, in welcher von fünf Sprachen er die Bildschirmtexte gerne lesen w:ürde. Deutsch ist natürlich auch vertreten, aber wer des Englischen mächtig ist, sollte sich die grauenhafte Übersetzung ersparen. Dann wird ein Team ausgesucht, wer mag, darf seinem Verein (wie allen anderen auch) einen neuen Namen verpassen.

Als nächstes landet der Jungmanager im feudalen Büro des Clubpräsidenten, der wild gestikulierend auf zwei Akten deutet: In der blauen Mappe findet man Infos über die Mannschaftsmitglieder (Position, Form, Marktwert, etc.), die grüne gibt Auskunft über die Vereinsfinanzen (Kontostand, Spielerbudget, Einnahmen und Ausgaben, usw.). Die Ordner können bequem per Mausklick durchgeblättert werden, sobald man weiß, was Sache ist, beginnt der Ernst des Manager-Lebens.

Vom eigenen (etwas bescheideneren) Büro aus können alle anfallenden Arbeiten erledigt werden - fast jeder Einrichtungsgegenstand hat eine Funktion. So kann man beispielsweise seine Sekretärin mit Aufträgen betrauen, Presseerklärungen abgeben (im Multiple Choice Verfahren), mit Kollegen über Ein- und Verkäufe verhandeln, Training für die Spieler anordnen oder einfach einen Tag blau machen. Selbstverständlich wird man auch selbst des öfteren angerufen, oder die Sekretärin erinnert einen an Termine.

Alle Verabredungen sind peinlichst genau im Terminkalender festgehalten, und im Aktenschrank finden sich noch wichtige Unterlagen über erfolgversprechende Taktiken, der aktuelle Stand der Liga und vieles mehr.

Optionen sind also reichlich vorhanden, sogar so reichlich, daß sich hier nicht annähernd alle aufzählen lassen. Es fehlt also gewiß nicht an Spieltiefe, bei European Superleague ist der Manager im Handlungsspielraum alles andere als eingeschränkt. Die komfortable Maussteuerung und die niedlichen, teilweis sogar animierten Grafiken tun ein Übriges, um die richtige Atmosphäre aufkommen zu lassen.

Daß sich der Sound praktisch auf gelegentliches Telefonklingeln beschränkt, stört nicht weiter. Einen Schwachpunkt aber hat das Game: An Spieltagen bekommt man lediglich ein paar Bildchen vom Geschehen auf dem Platz zu sehen - auf das Match selbst hat man weder Einfluß, noch darf man seinen Jungs wirklich beim Spielen zusehen. Aber von dieser Einschränkung einmal abgesehen, bleibt nicht viel, was man bei einem Soccer-Manager besser machen könnte! (C. Borgmeier)


European Superleague logo

Try taking a black Biro and neatly adding the world 'Manager' to the title above, and you will have sussed out what this one is all about already. Things, though, have come a long way since the original 8-bit football manager game (called, curiously enough, Football Manager); there is a twelve page manual (with very small print) lurking in the depth of the box for a start, so you can see that there is rather a lot more to this game than one might first expect. Nevertheless, not much has changed in the gameplay department - it is the usual case of picking a team to manage, and then managing them to your heart's content, or (much more likely) until you get fired.

The game is played mainly from behind your desk where all your decisions are made(by selection) over the phone and via your intercom by talking to other managers, the press, your team and your secretary. If you remember, it is a good idea to keep regularly checking your diary to see what is one the agenda.

The remainder of the game consists of a board meeting once a week, which more or less informs you of how you are doing, training sessions where you fix the training of your individual players as you see 'fit' (ho, ho), and then of course the match, where you pick the team, then decide on one of sixteen different game tactics to try and win with.

Believe it or not (for the sake of this review, you understand) I have actually played the game in some depth, and so can certainly vouch that it all feels very realistic - making a wrong decision somewhere really seems to alter events, as does upsetting the other characters (which you can do in such simple ways as going home every day without doing any actual work, for instance). The game seems generally up to 1991 Amiga standards - complex, and illustrated by some lovely graphics (well, lovely for this sort of game anyway) - but the fact remains that for many (I would say most) people this is just not the sort of thing that is likely to light their fire.


European Superleague logo CU Screen Star

CDS SOFTWARE
PRICE: £24.99

It had to happen. Out of a wave of mediocre football titles comes a real gem in the form of European Superleague, the first sighting of sunny Doncaster based CDS in quite a while.

I have to confess, ES doesn't really offer anything new in terms of gameplay. All the usual options are included - from changing the names of the teams through changing tactics (shades of Player Manager). What it does offer is a new, exciting visual angle.

Graphic rather than text-based, ES is stunning to look at. Every location is furnished with a full colour screen and with animation where necessary. Each screen is fully functional too. For example, on the main screen (your office) you can access your filing cabinet, your diary, your phone, your intercom and basically everything else you need to run a successful football club by simply clicking on the relevant item. One lovely little touch is the unique way of speeding up the clock on the days when your first appointment is at four in the evening. Included in your managerial arsenal is a large bottle of whiskey. A few swigs on this and you'll find time flying by.

From your office you can telephone other managers (to buy or sell players, or perhaps cancel matches) or the press, to make a statement, or to get a shot on the front page of a popular daily telling your story.

Training plays a vital role, far more so than in most products. Each player has varying levels of ability and stamina, and it is down to your judgement to decide how hard to push them. Do a sloppy job of it, and the Coach will question your actions. What you do and say at this point effects morale.

The game features an interactive communication system. Every time you have to speak with somebody, either on the phone or to their face, the computer will give you a series of appropriate statements, and you choose the one most applicable to what you want to say.

With three skill levels and eight teams to choose from, the game is never going to be easy, and you have enough control over things such as tactics to make the game involving and enjoyable. It doesn't matter that it's been done before. All that matters is that it's better. And it is.