Stand by for one of the best football games this season. Krisalis Software, after scoring an own goal with the original Manchester United, have scored a stunner with the sequel, Manchester United Europe.
The game, as is obvious from the title, ties in with Manchester United's triumph in the European Cup Winners Cup. What would Krisalis have done if United had been soundly thrashed by Barcelona in the final? Maybe "Tranmere Rovers, The Play-off Edition"! To say the least, it's a big improvement on the original with better graphics, sound and playability.
As Manchester United you can choose to play in either the European Cup, the Cup Winners Cup or the UEFA Cup, and if you are lucky enough or good enough to win one of these cups, you are entered in the World Club Championship.
The control method in the game has been altered and improved. You can now head, back-heel, chip and volley the ball, as well as using after-touch to curl and swerve it to perfection. All throw-ins, free kicks and corner kicks are now controlled by a large yellow cursor which you position on the field, then imply press fire to throw or kick the ball.
In between playing important cup matches you can choose to play friendly matches against great teams like Red Star Belgrade, Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Celtic, and several others from Albania, Norway and other smaller countries.
Krisalis have even managed to reproduce the other teams' club badges but not the players' names, so you get Mark Hughes and Lee Sharpe playing against the likes of A Pratt (Honest!) and other such made up names. But can you name Dinamo Bucharest's first team squad? No, neither could Krisalis.
On the main menu, which sports quite a funky tune, the other icons are found. These enable you to save the game and change the length of a match, or the manager's name. You can also alter the number of players from one up to four, although you can only have three or four players if you have the special four player adaptor. In a four player game you could have two people controlling the outfielders for each team and the other two controlling the goalies.
Other icons include those for looking at United's and your opponent's statistics and watching the results and fixtures of the European competitions - laughing as Wrexham go out in the first round.
The in-game animations are quite impressive, such as the goalkeeper punching out the ball and the wagging finger of the referee as your player gets booked or sent off.
Amiga users with a 1 meg machine are treated to the graphical delights of a substitute. Before coming on the field of play he can be seen doing his warm-up exercises, running up and down the touchline, taking off his tracksuit and exchanging positions with the player coming off.
One of the best animations is seen when you finally get to put the ball into the back of the net and the delighted goalscorer runs down the pitch and slides on his knees, taking the applause and cheers from the team's adoring fans while the rest of the team do the "Gazza".No, not sticking their tongue out and getting injured and being transferred to some out of the way Italian football club, but punching both their arms into the air with delight, bringing back memories of the last World cup.
Manchester United is a great football game with high-
A word for Kick Off owners who are looking for a change from Anco's classic: this is slightly slower with a different viewpoint and simpler rules, but it doesn't beat Kick Off.
Although Manchester United Europe has had a fine shot at goal in reducing the gap between Kick Off and other football games, it was always going to be the underdog.
And after the final whistle, Brian, it's Kick Off 1, Manchester United Europe 1 (Kick Off wins 2-1 after extra time).