Football Manager 2 logo

64/128 Prism Leisure Price: £9.99 Cass; £14.99 Disk

Football Manager was, and still is, one of the best selling games of all time. Now Kevin Tomms and Co have bounced back with a sequel to what has been called 'the greatest football managerial game ever'. The question is, looking back now, was it? The answer, of course, is absolutely not. It was good for its time, but with the subsequent release of games like Track-Suit Manager and Football Director 2 in particular, FM was overtaken. And sadly FM2 isn't likely to reclaim the pole position.

The original FM was the only game of its type at the time. All it consisted of was an endless loop of six or seven screens, asking you if you wanted to buy or sell players, showing you a league table and giving you very badly drawn match highlights. FM2 is, and it breaks my heart to say this, almost IDENTICAL to the original. All that seems to have been changed are the graphics and the fact that one extra screen has been added. ONE!

As before, you are the trainer, coach, accountant, club secretary, tea lady and cleaner, and it is your job to ensure that your team gets to the top of the division, gets promoted and wins the FA Cup. This is all done through a series of screens which contain, for the most part, Yes/No questions. Do you want to increase stand capacity? And so on.

Once you've made your long, weary way through the few choices available, you have to set up your team using a very confusing and tetchy control method which involves moving a pointer over a few black boxes and pressing fire, hoping you've selected the right player.

The important thing, and I think that this is the only good idea that this game contains, is getting your marking right. A third of the pitch is displayed at a time, and on the pitch you can see the statistics of the opposition that whichever player you put there is going to face: when you are placing attackers you can see the opposing defender's statistics. The basic moan with FM2 is that the game is a 'strategy' game, but the marking is the only strategic bit, and that isn't really strategic enough to be called strategy. You dig?

After setting your men, you get to watch the edited highlights of the match in glorious Addictive-o-vision, which, though more realistic than the first attempt, is still nothing much to look at, and do tend to take an extraordinary amount of time.

A very big let down, as far as I'm concerned. Little or no improvement over the original, which results in the game being outdated, short lived and most of all, boring.

Football Manager 2 logo

Addictive, £19.99 disk

The sequel to Kevin Tom's famous football strategy is here, and ready to test your managerial skills. A skill level is chosen, then a team is selected from the 92 available, and players positioned in once of three pitch areas. Your opponent's information is already displayed, and your players should be matched against players of lesser or equal skill.

The match then begins with you, the manager, watching the on-pitch action from the bench. At half time, player positions can be altered and substitutions made, hence altering strategy to match the halfway situation. At full time, all the scores for your division are shown, then the league table. An injury report for your team is displayed, which may affect your decisions on the transfer market and training field.

Gordon Houghton If fast graphic football action is what you're after, turn the page, because Football Manager 2 is played using menus. What graphics there are, are OK, for their purpose, though the watch-only matches could have been a lot better. Strategists, particularly those who are football fans, will be instantly hooked and, apart from annoying over-sensitivity in the player position section, mouse control causes no problems. There is sufficient depth, particularly in the training section, for your managerial skills to be honed, and varied, so lasting interest is quite high. Decision-makers, this game is for you.
Maff Evans I've never actually played the 'classic' Football Manager 2, but as it must be more basic than this, I'm glad I didn't. It's not that this is a bad game by any means, but involved strategy games are just a genre I don't particularly enjoy. I have to admit though, that FM2's menu driven system does make the game easy to get into, but the player position screens are a chore to use due to confusing and over sensitive mouse controls. The matches themselves are boring to watch, and a waste of time as the players' actions don't seem to competently mirror what the 'manager' has decided in his selections. Whether or not this will appeal to you depends heavily on whether or not you're well into football and strategy games. If you're a fan of both you're likely to disregard these shortcomings anyway, so you should certainly take a look at Football Manager 2.