Manchester United: The Double logo Amiga Computing Platinum Award

Due to their phenomenal success last season, the team of the '90s returns to the Amiga, courtesy of Krisalis. Jonathan Maddock schouts for goal and promises not to mention the 'Eric' incident.

INTRODUCTION

After being brought up in a Manchester City household, it should come as no surprise to you that I hate Manchester United with some venom. My early years were spent at Maine Road with my Dad enthusing about the blues, but by the time my brains started to work properly and after just one visit to Anfield in 1985, I soon turned my full attention to Liverpool Football Club.

Although I've seen them win the FA Cup, the League Cup and the Championship many times, not one of these tournaments can compete with a victory over the Red Devils. It's such an intense game between two extremely passionate sets of fans that it's a reversed fixture across the world.

One thing I would swap for a victory over Manchester United would be the pleasure of another FA Cup and league double. Liverpool won their double in 1986, but Manchester United have since joined them with their dynamic run last season.

Both clubs have now had an equal amount of success, but Manchester United have ruled the roost in one certain area, the wonderful world of computer games. The Red Devils have had three games made about them while Liverpool have only had one and to be honest, it was rubbish.

Krisalis, holders of the Manchester United licence, have made a range of games that appealed to everyone, not just Manchester United fans. Krisalis' first two efforts (Manchester United- & Europe) looked really good, but both were slighly lacking in the gameplay department.

Their third licence, Manchester United Premier League Champions, was far better and featured a good mix of management and arcade ation. Now they are back with another Manchester United offering.

This time they've tinkered around with and enhanced Manchester United Premier League Champions so much, you feel as though you're clutching a brand new game in-between your sweaty mitts. Although the game is titled Manchster United - The Double, it's not imperative that you play as the Red Devils or that you win the actual double.

Choose one of the clubs from any of the English divisions and either play a single game or go the whole hog and play season after season. Depending on who you choose.

Manchester United - The Double has got a very good chance of stealing Sensible World of Soccer's 'world's best computer footy game' title, but am I over the moon about it or just simply sick as a parrot?

ADDITIONAL INFO

Manchester United are, without argument, the team of the '90s, but last season will shine above all the others. 1994 was the year the Red Devils won the historic double, joining Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool as the only clubs to achieve such a feat.

United's league campaign kicked off against Norwich City at Carrow Road and the reds returned back to Manchster having won 2-0 with goals from Giggs and Robson.

United went and demolished most of the teams in the Premier League with some breathtaking attacking football. The majority of goals were provided by Giggs, Canona, Hughes, Ince and Kanchelskis, while at the back Pallister, Bruce and the safe hands of Schmeichel kept out the opposition.

In fact, United only lost four league games all season (twice to Chelsea and once to Blackburn and Wimbledon). The Red Devils won the championship and had left nearest rivals Blackburn lagging eight points behind them.

The FA Cup, one of the most admired tournaments in world football, started off in January for United with a 1-0 win against Sheffield United, Mark Hughes scoring the all-important goal. United then decisively beat Norwich City, Wimbledon and Charlton Athletic on their way to meeting local rivals, Oldham Athletic, in the semi-final.

Scoreless after 90 minutes, the two teams went into extra-time in search for a winner. Oldham's Neil Pointon popped up form nowhere to score in the 106th minute leaving United with a near impossible task to turn the tie around, but with one minute left on the clock and with one of Mark Hughes' unstoppable volleys, United had managed to save themselves and set up a replay three days later at Maine Road.

The replay was a different story altogether. The previous match had been too much for Oldham and United waltzed to a 4-1 victory with goals form Irwin, Giggs, Kanchelskis and Robson. This set up a final against Chelsea a month later which United, in front of a capacity 80,000 Wembley crowd, totally dominated and came out as 4-0 winners courtesy of two penalties from Cantona and a goal apiece form Hughes and McClair.

The Red Devils returned to Old Trafford with the Premiership and the FA Cup, and although this is a story of great success, it could've been even more impressive! It's worth pointing out that United only missed out on the treble thanks to Aston Villa who beat them 3-1 in the Coca Cola Cup.

With United challenging hard for the Premiership and with an easier run-in of matches than rivals Blackburn, plus the fact that they're (at the time of writing this) in the final of the FA Cup. It's not implausible to think that the Red Devils might win the double again in 1995.


 

FLASHBACK

A trip back through the past and we arrive in April 1994 where we first met up with Krisalis' previous footballing effort, Manchester United Premier League Champions.

"Krisalis have produced an absolute scorcher of a football game. Goal and Sensible Soccer fans will want to have this game's babies. Buy it and float to football heaven."

That's what I warbled almost a year ago and although the game did fairly well, it seems the legions of Sensi fans were more interested in their forthcoming sequel than anything else.

Bit of a shame as MUPLC was a cracking little game aimed at true fanatics who had real passion for their football. Sensible World of Soccer is the game by which eery other is judged by and one which every Amiga gamer should own, but for something a little different, Krisalis' third Manchester United title is well worth a look.

The under-rate Goal, Wembley International Soccer and Premier Manager series are just a few other football games worthy of a mention if Manchester United - The Double doesn't tickle your fancy.


 

ADDITIONAL INFO 2

One of Manchester United - The Double's biggest features is the inclusion of an editor system which allows you to change everything within the game, and this is sure to appeal to fans of Krisalis' previous effort.

The colours and style of the soccer kits can be changed at regular intervals, rather like Manchester United themselves, although unlike them you won't be exploiting your fans by placing a £40 price tag on some of your designer creations (Ooh controversial).

The game features all the clubs form the English league, but if you're a follower of football from foreign lands then you change everything accordingly.

Players and club names can be altered, but to keep things running smoothly all the player's skills can also be changed. If you think the game is too easy, you can go into the editor and lower your player ratings to make things more difficult, and vice versa if you find that Manchester United - The Double is too taxing.

One of Manchester United Premier League Champions' outstanding features was the Tactigrid feature and this was such a brilliant idea that Krisalis have included it in Manchester United - The Double.

The Tactigrid lets you position your players anywhere on the pitch and gives you more control over your team. Fullbacks can be ordered to charge up and down the wing and support the attack, or defenders can be told to hold back and play like a sweeper - there are lots of ways in which you can, tactically, alter your team.


 

SOUND

Manchester United - The Double contains some superb crowd sounds and samples. From the whistle that signifies kick-off time there follows plenty of chants and cheers from the terraces which go a long way in enhancing the overall atmosphere of the game.

I don't know whether the samples are linked to how good or bad the game of football is, but they do seem to get better when there's an incident or it's an action-packed game.

The only sound of any note is the tune that plays when you're wandering through the various menus, and I'm unhappy to report that it sounds terrible, plus there's no option to turn it off! The only suggestion that I can think of is that you turn your TV/Monitor down when you're managing the team and turn it up when you enter the arcade section of the gam.

There you have it. Superb atmospheric crowd noises that enhance the quality of the game and a horrible tune that annoys the hell out of me.

I'm still quite undecided about what to give the sound in Manchester United - The Double, but reach for the volume switch at the right moments and you'll be contented enough.

70%

 

GRAPHICS

On the surface, and while wandering through the various menu screens, graphically, Manchester United - The Double looks very similar to its predecessor, but I guess it's a case of if it isn't broken, don't fix it.

I quite like the icon system Krisalis have devised and after only a few minutes play you're soon whizzing all over in all the right places. It's very simple to use and because you can use the mouse as well as the joystick, this makes life even easier.

In Manchester United Premier League Champions the pitch was viewed from above, very much like the viewpoint in Sensible Soccer which in turn caused some unfair comparisons. Krisalis have, for this new instalment in the Manchester United series, changed the arcade section by altering the viewpoint of the pitch.

The action is now viewed from a 3D perspective which is superior to the one found in Krisalis' last attempt. You now get to see far more of the pitch and the players, which allows you to build up better moves and play those inch-perfect passes with ease without fear of the opposition intercepting the ball.

The view of the stadium is a nice touch and adds more reality to the game. Last time around the game tended to lose itself within the confines of a totally 'green' screen and unfortunately seemed incomplete.

The players haven't been altered very much, but that's not such a bad thing. Sensible Soccer features what you might call cartoon-like characters, but Manchester United - The Double shines above all its competitors thanks to the quality animation and the minute detail that's gone into its sprites.

Graphically, I can't knock the game, so what can I do by give it 90 per cent. Manchester United - The Double is, quite simply, the best-looking and most realistic Amiga football game your money can buy.

90%

 

OPINION90%

I enjoyed Krisalis' previous Manchester United licence immensely, so at first it wasn't too much of a shock when I found out that The Double is just as good, but I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that it's actually far, far better.

The introduction of the new angle for the arcade section was a brilliant touch and one that elevates Krisalis' football game to join competitors such as Sensible World Of Soccer and Goal. Features such as the inclusion of a transfer market and the helpful editor system are all clever ideas that deserve to be applauded.

Fans of the previous Manchester United games will love this new addition to the Red Devil's family. It is a complete football package for people who are genuinely mad about the beautiful game.

One thing I will give you advance warning of is that you have to take your time and use a lot of your patience with the game. You will lose your first few matches and won't get the hang of the control system until you're nearing the end of your first season, but after that you will be able to sit back and have a wonderful time playing for and managing a football club.

Manchester United - The Double will last you a long time, mainly because you can alter the difficulty of the game up and down thanks to the editor. Sensible Soccer was a game that appeals to every man, woman and their dog, but Manchester United - The Double is a true football game for true football fanatics everywhere.

Krisalis have broken out from defence, played it beautifully through the middle, knocked it out to wing, gone round two of the opposition and delicately curled another golden goal, past the flustered keeper, into the top corner of the net.



Manchester United: The Double logo

Steve Bradley pits Krisalis' new football extravaganza against two Amiga Format favourites: Sensible Soccer and Empire Soccer.

There is a new test we at AF recently devised, especially for the arrival of a new arcade football game. The whippersnapper must prepare to be played in tandem with our two favourites which happen to come from opposite ends of the footie spectrum, Sensible Soccer and Empire Soccer.

Sensible Soccer because it is simply fabulous - huge, open pitch, right teams, right kits, names, everything you want in a football game. Empire Soccer for its mad cartoonesque japery, enclosed pitch, huge sprites, special shots and positive Speedball-in-shortness (as described by one correspondent).

Sensible shorts
Anything close to either of these games impresses us. In fact, why has no-one ever thought of merging the two footie greats to make Unsensible Speedball Football In Shorts?

Manchester United: The Double, is the fourth in Krisalis' series of arcade games featuring the name of the popular Lancashire side. Manchester United Premier League Champions, the previous incarnation appeared a year ago and looked quite similar to Sensible Soccer, but it played more like the original Kick Off 2. It was FAST, too fast for many.

The major difference between The Double and PLC in arcade terms is the perspective - from viewed-from-above it is now isometric a-la FIFA Soccer and visually it pleases the eye. Otherwise, no changes playwise.

What Krisalis have done is incorporate a transfer market into the season option (apparently because folk who bought the last one reckoned this would be a good idea), so you can now buy and sell to strengthen your squad.

All the English leagues are included, the teams have squads of 25 players (real names). Their values are not representative of what the club would receive in real life, rather they're based on Krisalis' statistics - 10 facets in all, ranging from speed to shot accuracy, to, well, eight others. Fine.
And you can change these abilities - in fact, you can edit just about everything in the game to suit yourself. You can also look in-depth at every aspect of every other team - performance, discipline, fitness, etc. Fine.

There is something wrong though, and it is this. The actual arcade game - the most important part, let's face it - hasn't aged well. At all. The play is so quick you don't feel you're ever in control of the game. Consequently, the ball is difficult to tame, moves are not easy to plan - it just isn't considered football, nor is it fun.

All too often, the hoof up the middle is employed simply because it is so difficult to do anything else. Rather than pressing the fire button to shoot, you have to hold the button down and release. Of course, this takes some getting used to, though fans of Kick Off 2 may well prefer this method.

The TactiGrid, included in MUPLC is here and it enables you to tailor formations to a tee, and a splendid option it is too. But the pace! You just want to stop the game and ask everyone to slow down a bit.

Manchester United: The Double isn't a BAD game. It's just been left behind. Football Glory does it better. Sensible does, and always did, do it better and it has more teams, more players, more options and plays a better game of football.

It's odd. The same reviewer, reviewing the same sort of game, which, if anything, is slightly better than its predecessor. Yet the percentage score has dropped 22 per cent. Manchester United Premier League Champions was a game we enjoyed 12 months ago. A year on, it's some way off the title chasers. Did we overrate last time? Well, maybe.

As they say in football though, at the end of the day we have to be honest with ourselves, otherwise we're not doing our job. Manchester United: The Double is a poor man's Sensible World Of Soccer.



Manchester United: The Double logo

Im real existierenden Leistungssport feiern zur Zeit die eigentlich schon fast abgeschriebenen Veteranen wieder Triumphe - warum sollte das im Digi-Soccer also entscheidend anders sein?

Kurzum, wer das runde Leder schon eine Weile am Amiga-Monitor beobachtet, darf sich auf ein Wiedersehen mit dem im Mai getesteten "Manchester United Premier League Champions" einstellen: Rein optisch unterscheidet sich das neue Game nämlich nur durch das Iso-3D im Actionteil von den aus der Draufsicht präsentierten Kollegen, doch wurde die einst komplett britische Fußballwelt gründlich eingedeutscht.

Man hat also das gesamte System von der englischen Premier League (plus drei weitere Ligen) auf die 1. und 2. Bundesliga samt den Amateurteams :übertragen. Aber nicht nur die aktuellen Namen, korrekten Haut- oder Haarfarben und sonstigen Details der Sieler sind erstaunlich - die Jungs agieren hier auch sehr viel spielbarer auf dem Platz!

Der Handlungsbedarf reicht vom Freundschaftsspiel über eine selbstgefertigte Liga und dem eigenen Pokalwettbewerb mit 64 Teams bis hin zur kompletten Saison für maximal vier Manager - wer will, kann sich dabei auch für ein paar Begegnungen vom Computer vertreten lassen.

Allerdings sind die Eingriffsmöglichkeiten für den Manager doch relativ beschränkt; so darf er u.s. Seine Jungs anhand von Statistiken beurteilen, sie bei Bedarf auswechseln und die (speicherbaren) Taktiken der aktuellen Situation auf dem Platz anpassen.

In der uns vorab zur Verfügung gestellten Testversion ließen sich leider nur Teams aus der ersten und zweiten Bundesliga in den Saisonbetrieb schicken, während man gleichzeitig die Amateurmannschaften bloß in den eigenen Ligen und Pokalen selbst steuern konnte - aber Krisalis gelobte feierlich Besserung: Falls Ihr also in der Verkaufsversion umfangreichere Wahlmöglichkeiten antrefft, wißt Ihr, bei wem Ihr Euch bedanken müßt!

Aber macht uns bitte nicht dafür verantwortlich, wenn man die Relays dann immer noch nicht speichern und auch die Matchdauer nicht variieren kann...

Ob das Game mit Musik aufgewertet wid, war bei Redaktionsschluß noch unklar, seine Geräuschkulisse geht jedenfalls in Ordnung.

Grafisch hat sich bis auf die hübschere Isometrieperspektive gegenüber "Manchester" kaum etwas verändert, denn von dem neu gezeichneten (Publikums-) Umfeld ist in der Praxis meist wenig zu sehen. Aber immerhin sind die 3D-Animationen auf dem u.a. auch mal neblig-vereisten Rasen durchaus sehenswert.

Verglichen mit "FIFA Soccer" ist der Gameplay übersichtlicher, besonders die Finessen des Paßspiels hat man hervorragend realisiert. In Sachen Taktik verweist allerdings das ausgefeiltere "Sensible World of Soccer" das benutzte Aufstellungssystem deutlich auf die Plätze.

Unter dem Strich kann der Bayern-Kapitän mit der (Action-) Konkurrenz also gut mithalten, und in einem Punkt ist er gar unübertroffen: So akkurates Datenmaterial findet man sonst nur im Privatfernsehen!



Manchester United: The Double logo

Loads of good bits ruined by one big bad bit. Shame!

Cheating. It's not big. It's not clever and you certainly won't prosper by doing it. Unless of course we're talking about computer games. You see in the world of games, cheating can sometimes make you big, sometimes requires you to be clever (and sometimes not) and if you get the right cheat you will definitely find things moving in your favour.

Take football games for instance. Get yourself some serious money in a management game and you're laughing all the way to the top of the division (hopefully). Or maybe even find a cheat to make all your players great or a special way to score a goal every time in a more arcadey game and you can then wipe the floor with everyone. But what if you could do all this without cheating?

Last month we reviewed the Premier Manager 3 Editor, which basically allowed you to alter any detail in the game to your own requirements - some people even thought having Bath City in the Premier league was funny.

Well, now Krisalis have added the same sort of editor to their Manchester United game. This time around called Manchester United: The Double (remember last season?). They've also added some other new bits and pieces but we'll be concentrating on the editor to start with, if you don't mind.

ALL CHANGE
Basically, think of every aspect you find in a football game: the teams, the kits, the players, their abilities, what player plays for what teams, everything. Well now, you can change it all. Yes, all of it.

This means you can, should you wish, have AMIGA POWER United playing in black shirts, black shorts and socks, with all the players as good as their stats will allow, playing in the Premier League with opponents including the likes of Bath City, Bromsgrove Rovers and even Accrington Stanley. Or you could simply make Ryan Giggs a bit crap. The choice is yours.

Personally I like the idea of an editor. As long as you don't take it too far. I mean if you make all your players great, where's the challenge? But if you fancy putting your own name in place of your favourite player and then playing as that team, then great.

The best thing here though is you can do whatever you like. The only thing that may hold you back is not wanting to make the game too hard for yourself.

You can of course leave the game alone and concentrate on the other new bits. The transfer market for example. Yep, the chance to buy and sell players, looking for a new star, buying an old has-been or even trying to make a bit of money to afford that player you've had your eye on for a couple of seasons. All supremely quick and easy to do, and valuable in the game.


Think of every aspect

Ah yes, the game. I'd almost forgotten about this bit. They've moved the angle around a bit. So instead of Sensi Soccer comparisons (which had been levelled at the game in previous incarnations) we can now call it a cross between Sensi and FIFA Soccer. Look at the screenshots to see what I mean.

Although you might not think it, this new view actually makes the game more fun to play. The extremely fast nature of the game means that it's useful to be able to see where the ball is coming from, and this new view lets you do that. Unfortunately, I still can't get to grips with it. I've tried, I really have, but it's just too all over the place.

I've tried playing as different teams, to experience good and bad ones, but all to no avail.. I just can't seem to do what I want. Perseverance does pay off, with the odd goal here and there, but there's not enough continuity, not enough flow and definitely not enough user-friendliness in the control system to allow you to add your own style of play. You just end up booting it upfield in the vain hope that someone will connect with it in a positive way and that it might just end up in the back of the net.

The same is true when you've not got possession, you slide about all over the place or hopelessly drive through the air in order to clear a cross or a corner. Anyway, it's all rather frustrating and I'm surprised our joypad still works form the number the times I've thrown it on the floor in anger.

TO FINISH
I've played and reviewed this game in its CD32 guise, and although I appreciate the changes they've made, the game is still so flawed and makes you so angry it's quite unplayable. You can turn the football bit off, but this leaves you with a slightly bare, management-only game that's a bit tedious.

The detail in the game is great and the editor is also pretty good, but unlike nearly every other football game we've got, I'm afraid I'm not going to be playing this one on those quiet afternoons in the office.



Manchester United: The Double logo

Price: Unconfirmed Publisher: Krisalis 0709 372 290

The quadruple more like. Krisalis bless the Amiga with its fourth Manchester United game.

It seems software companies must be mad or supremely confident to release a footy title these days. For one thing, it's such an overcrowded genre. Then you've got to try to live up to the standard set by the hugely popular Sensible World Of Soccer, regarded by many (myself included) as not only the greatest footy title ever, but simply the best computer game ever. So what can The Double offer that SWOS can't?

Well, there's pedigree for starters. The Manchester United series has been running for over five years now, with each successive game receiving more praise than the last. The Double is built around an updated and enhanced version of Krisalis' last Man U game, Manchester United - Premier League Champions. The Double features exactly the same control and gameplay as Premier League Champions, but the overhead perspective has been ditched in favour of an isometric viewpoint.

What's new?
The main addition to the game engine is a comprehensive editor, which works in a similar style to Gremlin's Premier Multi League Edit System for Premier Manager 3 (as reviewed on page 56).

Unlike Gremlin's editor, The Double concentrates purely on the editing of players. Everything from their names and skin colour to their various skill ratings can be altered, or if you want, players can be created from scratch. Leagues can be built up in the same way, while a nifty kit design option completes the editing package. Players can now be bought and sold too, courtesy of a transfer feature.

Gameplay remains exactly the same as it did in Premier League Champions, which is hardly a bad thing. The excellent Tacti Grid is back. If you're not familiar with the system, it allows precise control over the positioning of a team's players on the pitch, regardless of their overall formation. Use it well and it's a sure fire way of increasing your chances of winning.

For such a powerful system it is a big sticky piece of chocolate cake to use (that's a good thing) and puts the tactics system in Sensible World of Soccer to shame.

Other key features of the game include up-to-date squads and numbers, as well as bookings and suspensions. Some of the team selections are dodgy however. If you're a big footy fan like myself, you'll wonder what the likes of David Kerslak are doing in the Spurs defence when more regular first team players are sitting in the reserves.

Also some transfer values can appear conservative, but these are alterable by tinkering with the player's skills. Anyway, player valuations are next to useless most of the time, whoever would have thought that Andy Cole would have been sold for £7 million for instance?

Trying too hard
The original Manchester United Premier League Champions had its critics, but I preferred it to FIFA and rated it a close second to Sensible Soccer. The problem for The Double is that it has been released at a very unfortunate time with two competitors offering better products.

In my opinion, as far as the arcade game is concerned, The Double is beaten in every department other than sound when compared to the seemingly unbeatable Sensible World of Soccer. I also think that Gremlin's Premier Multi Edit System mops things up as far as the editing options go.

Don't think that The Double is a bad game, because it isn't. The control system, once mastered, is excellent and the presentation and graphics are much clearer than those in SWOS. The transfer option adds plenty of lastability to the game and stops the annoyance of seeing the likes of Andy Cole still at Newcastle months after he has left, a problem which plagues SWOS (you've got a thing about Andy Cole haven't you? - Ed).

If like me you're nuts about football and footy games then The Double is an ideal second purchase. But if you're after a game which is the best in its market then I'd recommend Sensible World of Soccer for arcade fans and Premier Multi Edit System for football management lovers.

Unfortunately, The Double suffers from that old problem of trying too hard to appeal to all gamers. It succeeds but there are other titles out there which, in my opinion, do a better job.