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-
It's based within a point-and-
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-
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.
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.
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.