Here we go... Here we go... Here we go... or do we?

Manchester United Europe logo

KRISALIS * £25.99 * 1/2 meg * Joystick * OUt now

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-quality graphics and good sound. The only minor complaints are that sometimes your players tend to slow down, and the computer difficulty level is set quite high. But apart from that it's really rather good.

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).


Manchester United Europe logo

Krisalis * £25.99 Joystick

There's more to football than Kick Off. That may sound blasphemous, but the overhead, high-speed, arcade style that Dino Dini chose for the Big KO is not the only viable approach. At least that's what the mighty Red Army would have us believe, as they troop out for an Amiga rematch in Manchester United Europe. Are they fresh enough to stand a summer of international waggling after such a tough domestic season?

Football isn't just hoofing the ball up the pitch and blasting at the other goals. There's touch play, passing, running off the ball, strategy and luck to consider. Man Utd Europe tries to bring these subtleties to the Amiga, using a management section, larger sprites and intentionally slower pace as its tools.

On-side rules
Man Utd's on-screen soccer is seen from the side. That's how we see TV football and in a computer environment it's both familiar and effective. IF the TV-style view is the game's front man, then it's the player sprites that provide a solid back four. You can see exactly who's got the ball and where they're headed, which in football is kind of important.

The isometric perspective used for the side-on view makes the game instantly understandable but takes some getting used to. Floating balls have to be judged by their shadow and tackles can be missed even when players are apparently standing next to each other. A few minutes of play soon relegates these problems though, as the eyes adjust to the forced perspective needed to cover the entire pitch.

The boot goes in
To add that elusive element of skill (well, elusive to Red Star Belgrade at least) there are three different kick controls. There's the usual toe punt ahead of the player and, as with all kicks, the longer the fire-button's held, the stronger the boot the ball gets. Players can also play, chip and bend the ball using aftertouch. Aftertouch is engaged by waggling the stick the split second after the kick, which sends the ball soaring or looping left or right.

The most impressive addition to the kicking arsenal is the cross. In real soccer this can provide the key that unlocks defences, and it's the same in Man Utd, because play can be instantly switched from the wings to centre. A player can be sent running, ball at the feet, and programmed to cross the ball when the fire-button's released, with another directional jab of the stick. It's not difficult to set up, just tough to use because the man needs a clear run. But, if it can be made to work...

Touch play
The soccer is intense, mainly due to a smallish pitch. There are few clear runs and quick passing is the only way to get past the horde of defenders. Tacklers always get the benefits of the doubt, which is annoying when you're facing goal, but is brilliant when the opposition is hurtling towards your keeper.

To support the turf-top antics, and ensure you stay in any cup competition you've entered, is the management section. It's pretty limited as management sections go, but it gives the arcade section that little extra tactical meat. You can only really affect the performance of the team by selecting and positioning in different set ups, an arrangement as much dependent on how the opposition line up as a personal preference. Used in conjunction with the arcade section it can make the difference, especially when you've a lead to defend in a two-legged encounter. Played solely as a management game, though, it leaves a lot to be desired.

Instant replay
Man Utd plays well, proving a tense soccer challenge against both computer or human opposition. The smallish pitch means that goals are treasured and demand rerunning on the instant replay. The opposition for the European competitions is tough but beatable, if you stick at the task and play long enough matches to ensure there's a chance to comeback after stupid give-away goals.

Unfortunately professional football is far from perfect and Man Utd similarly has its downside. Many of these are graphic quibbles: moon-walking refs or goalies catching balls that are visibly above their hands. What's worrying is the inability of these teams - the cream of Europe - to stop a long volley. There is a point about 20 yards out from the goal, just off centre, that constantly results in goals if you've the time for a pokey shot with aftertouch. It's a hard position to hold as scythe-like tackles are a certainty, but if you can get there, you've scored. This is annoying because it discourages using its stronger features, such as the cross, which strive to make a superior soccer struggle. What would you rather have, a sure but ugly goal or an arty attempt one?

Man Utd Europe's good looks and sound are an improvement over the first Man Utd. The arcade side, although flawed, provides good entertainment and that's where a footie game has to deliver. The slower pace ensures tension, the variety of kicks room for skill, the management section provides tactical development. The wealth of options don't give the magical spark needed to turn pitch-based romps into classics.


FOUR WAY TIE
One unique feature of Man Utd Europe is the ability to have four human players in action simultaneously. Using a joystick splitter that runs through the parallel port, two folks can control the players while two more have command of the goal keepers. The goalies don't have that much to do in comparison, but computer football is at its best when you can gloat at your success and other's mistakes.
BIG GAME HUNTING
Playing football isn't enough. There has to be a point, especially for solo soccer stars, and Man Utd supplies the three different European Trophies to tempt teams into sporting combat.
Winning one of these qualifies Man Utd for the ultimate challenge: a World Championship against the very best in the world not just Europe.

Manchester United Europe logo

Der Vorläufer dieses Spiels hat geschafft, wovon die meisten Fußballsimulationen nur träumen können: Er brachte "Kick Off", den Meister aller Klassen, ernsthaft in Bedrängnis. Dann kam "Kick Off 2" und sorgte wieder für klare Verhältnisse - bis jetzt?

Weit über 100.000 Exemplaren von "Manchester United" sind bereits über den Ladentisch gewandert, was sicher nicht zuletzt daran liegt, daß es als einziges Soccer-Game einen Action- und gleichzeitig einen vollwertigen Managerteil bieten kann. Beim Nachfolger ist man jedoch von diesem Rezept wieder abgerückt und hat den Schwerpunkt voll auf den Rasen verlagert. Alles, was noch an Strategie übriggeblieben ist, ist die Möglichkeit, unter verschiedenen Aufstellungen zu wählen...

Manchester United Europe hat alle nur denkbaren Cup-Ausscheidungen im Angebot, vom UEFA Cup bis hin zu Exoten wie dem (hier erstmals simulierten) Europa Super Cup. Und wer einen dieser praktischen Vier-Spieler-Adapter besitzt, kann ihn jetzt ebenfalls verwenden - zwei Leute dürfen auf dem Feld rumflitzen, die anderen beiden stehen im Tor. Die übrigen Optionen sind allerdings nicht besonders ergiebig: Man kann die Spielzeit zwischen 4 und 90 Minuten Ehtzeit einstellen, den Namen des Managers ändern und die Spielstatistik beäugen (erzielte Tore, gelbe/rote Karten, Fouls, etc).

Sobald jedoch der Anpfiff ertönt, ist die dürftige Auswahl vergeben und vergessen - auf dem Rasen gibt's nun wirklich alles, was Fußballerherzen höher schlagen läßt! Besonders die super animierte Grafik ist ein Genuß, und weil der komplette Bildschirm ausgenützt wird, ist das Spielfeld so übersichtlich geraten, daß man den weggefallenen "Radarschirm" überhaupt nicht vermißt. Außerdem sind tausenderlei kleine Details vorhanden, beispielsweise Kopfbälle, die Ersatzspieler laufen sich vor dem Einwechseln am Spielfeldrand warm, alle 250 (!) Mannschaften haben ihr eigenes Emblem, die jederzeit erhältliche Zeitlupenwiederholung ist abspeicherbar, und die Einwurf- bzw. Ekkentechnik wurde mit Hilfe eines frei plazierbaren Cursors sogar deutlich besser gelöst als bei "Kick Off 2" - hätte man Fallrückzieher auch noch eingebaut, wäre die Sportschau im ARD schon fast überflüssig...

Der Sound ist ebenfalls prächtig, die Zuschauer im Stadion gehen richtig mit; bloß die Musik ist etwas düdelig, aber die muß man sich während des Spiels ja nicht anhören. Auch die Steuerung verdient Lob, denn einerseits kommen Anfänger gut zurecht, während Fortgeschrittene richtig zaubern dürfen. Daß es unterm Strich doch (wieder) nicht ganz reichen wird, um "Kick Off" die Butter vom Brot zu stehlen, liegt am dürftigen Optionsangebot, dem leichten Ruckeln bei der Grafik und dem Umstand, daß es nur einen Platz und keine unterverschiedlichen Witterungsverhältnisse gibt. Trotzdem ist Manchester United Europe ein wirklich gelungenes Fußball-Vergnügen - so sicher, wie der Ball rund ist! (mm)


Manchester United Europe logo

Seen the matches? Now play the game.

Within five minutes of booting this up I had Lee Sharpe emerging from an untidy midfield melee, skipping through the left wing and crossing over for Mark Hughes to make a subtle touch before rocketing the ball into the goal.

The little sparky character rolled over towards the crowd and performed his victory salute before being mauled by tiny team mates. Any student of the ways of Old Trafford will happily admit that this is glorious realism.
I have to confess to a love of Manchester United football that verges on the obsessive so please forgive this review's ridiculous enthusiasm. But honestly, this really is a marvellous football game.

Man Utd Europe is viewed in the familiar sideways view three dimensional fashion with the computer choosing which player the joystick dictates to at any time. Unlike so many football games this is done exceptionally intuitively, so there's none of that frustrating hanging around while the program finally decides to nominate a character to chase some rampaging centre forward.

There are bagful of controls at your disposal but you won't need to wade through a manual to learn them. Tackling, shooting, dribbling and so on come naturally and sweetly. Too many games are obsessed with making you work to attain skills which would be elementary to any half-decent footballer - Manchester Utd lets you get on with trying to win games straight away.

Having said that though, we're not talking about a simple stroll towards the European Cup Final in your first campaign - Manchester United Europe provides a learning curve which is sensible while challenging, and winning games is no breeze. Still, at least when you're beaten there is nobody at fault but yourself - you can't blame the game's controls, which makes for such a refreshing change (I've broken more joysticks than I care to count after grappling with certain soccer simulations).

It won't appeal to everyone though. Strict football strategists should keep away because this is first and foremost an action game. Strategy is (thankfully) limited to picking the team and sorting out formations, and even that is optional.

What else can I say? Well, the game's fast, but not stupidly so, the sound is good, it sticks to the rules of the real game but - hey! - enough already. If soccer is your thing, just go out and buy this, okay? (Even if you hate Man United).


Manchester United Europe logo CU Amiga Screen Star

With the Reds sweeping all before them in the Cup Winner's Cup, Krisalis look for their own European glory. Dan Slingsby reports from the touchline.

A After the flood of excellent footy games released last year to cash in on the World Cup, 1991 has been noticeably devoid of decent soccer sims. The CU Premier League All- Star Division has had to make do with the data disks for Anco's superb Kick Off 2, turning our collective noses up at such taudry recent efforts as Simulmondo's I Play 3D Soccer and CDS's European Superleague.

Now, in a masterpiece of timing, Rotherham-based softcos, Krisalis, have come up with the follow-up to last year's Manchester United kickabout. This time the squabbles of the domestic league have been left behind as United set off to conquer Europe and teach the rest of the world what a decent game of footy is all about.

Europe The European version offers a choice of all three major competitions plus the Super Cup for those who succeed in guiding United towards the winner's rostrum in either the European or Cup Winner's cups. More than 250 clubs are included in the three competitions, including household names from the likes of Iceland, Norway and Luxembourg(!), and each is represented by their authentic club insignia and player line- up. The game's many menus are all easily accessible, thanks to polished presentation screens that use a system of icons to guide the player through the many choices, options and varied statistics.

As with the first game, the European version offers a forced 3D perspective which gives a grandstand view of the pitch as opposed to Kick Offs bird's-eye view. The cartoony sprites of the original have been replaced by more realistic-looking players and the game also benefits from a larger playing area and a greater range of shots and set pieces.

It's a game that's easy to jump straight in with, thanks to the simple joystick controls, but it also offers hidden depths and trick shots which only become apparent after frequent play. For instance, it's possible to set up your player for a diagonal run, back-heel the ball to another player who can then lob the ball into the goal area for a third team member to head it into the goal. Such complex gameplay might sound daunting, but is very easy to pull off.

The player nearest the ball is the one under direct control. Once possession is gained, the ball will stay at the player's feet as long as he doesn't make any swift changes in direction or accidentally stabs the fire button and kicks the ball away. To gain possession, simply weave in and out of a player's path as he dribbles the football or pull off a sliding tackle by whacking the fire button as you run towards the ball. Tackling a player from behind, however, will frequently result in a yellow card from the ref who tends to be a bit card happy at the best of times. Our esteemed editor, the gentlest of souls off the pitch but a fouling hatchet man on it, managed to have four players sent off for just such an offence.

A quick stab on the fire button will send the ball scuttling up the pitch, but there are a range of after-touch options which make the match more entertaining. it's possible to curl or lob a ball to perfection as well as producing a volley, headers or a sliding shot which either result in spectacular goals or make you look incredibly stupid for attempting such a kick in the first place. Add to that a range of corner kicks, free kicks, throw-ins and penalties and you have a convincing array of shots at your disposal.

Before wading into the opposition, a quick look at the opposing team's playing formation is advisable so that alteration's to United's line up can be made. There's also a battery of statistics that can tell you who did what at the end of each match - a useful idea even if it's only used to substitute a player who looks likely to collect another yellow card and get sent off. You can chose from up to four subs with a neat animation sequence showing the players warming up before they make their entrance included for those of you with 1 Meg machines.

The goalie in each match is computer controlled except for penalties when you have the option of send the goalie diving either to his right or left. It's also possible to play a four-player match, if you've got one of the special plug-in adaptors that are currently available, so that one player controls the outfield on each team and the other two get lumbered with the more boring task of controlling the goalies. Another extra is the replay facility which lets you view the last ten seconds of the game at any time. Great to watch that forty yard lob sink slowly into the back of your mate's undefended goal!

Apart from one or two reservations, such as the inability to switch control between players at crucial points in the game and the slightly slow movement of the players across the pitch, this is a fine addition to the football game genre. There are few disks I take home from CU Towers to add to my collection, but this is definitely one of them.


UP FOR THE CUP Krisalis must have a crystal ball to hand when deciding the release schedule of their games. The original Man Utd game was released the minute the Reds bagged the FA Cup, and this season sees them releasing the sequel just as United walk off with the Cup Winner's Cup. How's that for timing?!
If you're wondering why Krisalis picked Manchester United as the team to transfer to the pixel pitches of the Amiga, perhaps it has something to do with the estimated 250,000 followers the team can count on across Europe and the fact that Krisalis's boss, Tony Kavanah, is a committed United supporter of many years standing.

THE GLORY, GLORY YEARS With last year's FA Cup win and this years European Cup Winners Cup, success United have made a welcome return to form. The club has not always courted success however and their first few years of existence saw the team struggle to beat even the most abysmal opposition. Originally called Newton Heath, the club didn't join the Footbal League until 1892 when they ended the season firmly entrenched at the bottom of the table. Although United picked up the league title in 1908 and the FA Cup the following year the interwar years proved particularly fruitless and the club had to be saved from bankruptcy by a local businessman. During the Second World War, United's Old Trafford ground was bombed by the Lufftwaffe forcing United to share Manchester City's Maine Road ground.
After the end of the Second World War, the now-legendary Matt Busby took over as manager. Within six years United had picked up the league title, FA Cup and been league runners-up no less than four times.
Busby also encouraged a number of young players who eventually worked their way into the team. 'Busby's Babes' as they became known took the team onto even greater glory winning tour more league titles. Unfortunately fate conspired against the team and many were killed in an horrific plane crash in Munich. Undoubtedly the 8th February 1958 is a black day in British football. After having beaten Red Star Belgrade to reach the European Cup semi-finals the team were forced to stop-over at Munich for refuelling. As a heavy snow storm raged the plane attempted to take off only to crash at the end of the runway as the engines failed.
Half the team died and many others were seriously injured.
Building a new team around the talents of Bobby Charlton, George Best and Denis Law, United clinched their seventh league title in 1967. The club then went on to secure the European Cup the following year. Although United have since picked up the FA Cup no less than four times the club has had little other success. Plagued by injuries the sacking of manager Tommy Docherty after an affair with a phvsio's wife. a number of multi-million pound transfers that went wildly wrong and wracked by boardroom disputes.


Manchester United Europe logo Zero Hero

Although more accustomed to cricket whites and Oxbridge blues, Lord Paul Lakin made the transition to the 'Red Devils' strip with flying colours. Then he took Krisalis' Manchester United Europe for a kick about the park.

Manchester United the game, released last year, had a considerable more successful domestic season than Manchester United the team. However, in Europe, it was a different story - the 'Red Devils' beat Barcelona to win the European Cup Winners Cup. This was fortunate not only for Alex Fergusson's job security but also for Krisalis, who've just produced a sequel to Man Utd.

So what's the difference between Man Utd in Europe and Man Utd in England? (Apart from the fact that they can win in one and not the other).
Well, for starters there's less of a management section in Europe. You can pick your team and formation, but after that it's all down to what happens on the pitch. There are no transfers, no faffing about with training and no management buy-outs - just an awful lot of running and kicking.
Well 'just' is more than a little unfair. What Man Utd has lost in off-the-field strategy it has gained in on-field skill. Each player has a range of initial kicks and aftertouches open to him.

Manchester United Europe contains three main cup competitions: UEFA, Cup Winners Cup and European Cup; plus the Super Cup (Cup Winners Cup champs v. European Cup Champs) and World Club Championship (Super Cup winners v. South American Champions). Your progress in any of these can be interfered with by the intrusion of friendly/league matches, where you can hone your skills but also tire and injure your players.

This is of course a one or two player game, but it can also be a four player game (provided you've got a joystick adaptor), with one player on each side controlling the outfield and the other two players controlling the goalkeepers.
Alternatively, two of you can take on the computer. Or the computer can simply calculate all the results based on each team's rating, so you can watch Man Utd on Match Of The Day.

Amiga reviewPaul: There seem to be two ways of doing a football game. You either think "stuff the realism, turn up the speed" and produce something like Kick Off, or you pay a lot of attention to producing a genuine footie sim at the cost of some speed. Krisalis has taken the second option and, looking at the result, you can't really blame it.

The graphics and animations are easily the best I've seen in a football sim. Headers and volleys are lovely to watch and lovelier to execute - pure poetry in motion. The range of kicks is almost as good, but they're not the easiest thing in the world to access. Holding down fire while running, selecting direction, releasing fire and then adding a flick of after-touch is challenging fore the most Robsonesque player.

Still, most of the time you may be forced to play 'kick and run' but every once in a while, if the opposition give you some space, you can pull off the sort of shots that get you Goal Of The Season. My only slight reservation with Man Utd Europe is the difficulty level, or slight lack of it. On my first play I won the UEFA Cup and Super Cup. Ah well, can't blame Krisalis for my outstanding football skill. I suppose!

If you're looking for a frenetic kickaround loosely based on football, then Kick Off is still your best bet. If you're looking for a realistic and exciting sim, Man Utd Europe is the best available, even if you can't stand Utd.