Manchester United: Premier League Champions logo Gamer Gold

Krisalis return with yet another United licence, but believe you me this piece of software is going straight to the top of the league.

It's been quiet on the football game scene over the last few months and the Sensi vs Goal war has died down, but there's a new challenger in town. Going by the name of Manchester United Premier League Champions, this new boy is ready to give it all and take the footballing crown. It's been produced by Krisalis and is in fact their third Manchester United licence. The previous two efforts were viewed from the side and Krisalis thought that they weren't going to gain anything by producing yet another one.

Unashamedly inspired by Sensible Soccer, Krisalis have created a football game that is viewed from above. You might think that there's nothing new about that because Sensible did it first and did it best, but you would be wrong because Manchester United Premier League Champions is the game which Sensible should've been and never was.

Whereas Sensible Soccer was a cartoon-like and more arcade-based game, Krisalis' new piece of software is a true football game for true football fanatics. It could almost be called a management simulator and this is because it has a huge strategy element to it. This is all thanks to Krisalis' Tacti-grid system. The grid lets you decide where and how you can want your players to play. For instance, you can make up any formation you want and unlike most football games they will stick to this formation.

You could have all your team in attack which will leave massive gaps in your defence, but at least your team will stick to this system until you decide to change it. That's just one way of playing that perhaps you'll never use, but it illustrates the point that your team will do exactly what you tell them.

A much better and more practical example would be to tell your full-backs what they should do. Should they stay back in defence or do you want them running up the wings to put crosses in for your forward men? The choice, as they say, is yours. Manchester United Premier League Champions has every team from the Premier, Ef you're a dedicated enough games player.

You start off with your fresh squad of players and take part in the League, the Coca Cola Cup and the FA Cup. As you progress your players will get injured and you'll have to change your team selection accordingly. You can also keep on eye on your league position, your squad, top goal scorers and injuries from a whole wealth of statistical information. Weather conditions play a big part in football games and also in Manchester United Premier League Champions. As the months progress the pitch conditions will change from a hard and dry pitch in August to a frosty pitch in December and so on.

I guess you're wondering about what the actual game part is like. Well, there is obviously a huge Sensible Soccer influence to Krisalis' third Manchester United game as you can guess from the screenshots, but they do play differently. Sensible had very 'blocky' player graphics, and although they did the job well enough they weren't exactly realistic. The sprites in Krisalis' effort are slightly smaller, but much more well-defined than those seen in Sensible Soccer.

There aren't any fancy graphics around the pitch like a stadium or dug-outs, but this doesn't really matter because you'll be so focused on the game that you'll not notice. The pitch surfaces can be varied; all the usual pitches are in there like the mud surface, but there are a couple of new ones like the foggy- and frosty pitch or the 'this game should've been abandoned' as we in the office like to call it!

At first control over the players is quite difficult, rather like the sensation you got when playing Sensible Soccer for the first time, but practice makes pefect and within no time at all you'll be spraying balls all over the pitch like Eric Cantona. You can make the players shoot, lob, pass head, chest and volley the ball. Volleying is particularly impressive because the balls roar across the screen like a nuclear missile and, of course if you manage to get the ball in the back of the net you can look very smug indeed.

Manchester United Premier League Champions has lots of little nice touches, like the replay function. Not only can you rewind, play and watch the action in slow motion, but you can watch your goals going form the opposite viewpoint. This was always a problem in Sensible Soccer when shooting down because you missed most of the action thanks to the goal being in the way. You can substitute your players, but normally in other products you have to wait until your players' legs are half falling off. Krisalis have rectified this problem because when a nasty tackle goes in it actually tells you what state your player is in, this makes those important managerial decisions a lot easier.

Another interesting little feature is the ability to name who takes the defensive and attacking free-kicks and more importantly who takes the penalties. OK, so it's maybe not that important, but it's a lot more realistic than having the player who got fouled take them.

It's all these nice touches which turns a very good game into a brilliant piece of software ant he only thing which I noticed that was left out was the ability to transfer players, but hey you can't have everything can you.

Although I detest Manchester United I have to say that Krisalis' Manchester United Premier League Champions would make it onto my top ten Amiga games ever. I've thrown away my copies of Sensible Soccer and Goal because Krisalis have created an ultimately more satisfying football game that will appeal to the true football fan.

The graphics are nicely presented and highly realistic. Couple this with its level of playability and addiction and you've got a hell of a game on your hands. The management element is what really makes the game for me because it makes the product far more interactive than previous football software.

You might have a problem in controlling your players at first, but over a short period of time you will start to master it. Krisalis have produced same damn fine footy games in the past, but this surpasses them all. I don't know how the games-buying public will take it, but I've not been able to put it down and I'm off to play it again as soon as I've scribbled these last few words down.

I could enthuse for most of the magazine about how good it is, but space forbids me doing that. I put my hand on my heart I advise you to buy it. I promise you will not be disappointed.


Action replay Manchester United: Premier League Champions
Grimsby forward. Tony Ford makes his way towards Bolton's penalty area.
Manchester United: Premier League Champions
The nimble forward skips around a couple of defenders with the ball still glued to his feet.
Manchester United: Premier League Champions
Tony heads towards the corner of the pitch and then sends over a lethal cross.
Manchester United: Premier League Champions
The ball floats over the Bolton keeper and it's getting incredibly close to the net.
Manchester United: Premier League Champions
Oh my word! Tony Ford has curled the ball into the net. Grimbsy's second goal and it's all over bar the shouting.


Manchester United: Premier League Champions logo

Steve Bradley is a great admirer of Manchester United, so imagine his excitement when this new footie game landed on his desk.

Prepare for an Amiga footballing overload in the coming months. Why? It's World Cup year don't you know, and because our lot didn't get there we jolly well won't be watching it. So there. Come Summer, there are likely to be another five, six, maybe even seven new footer games released and the burning question is, will we still be playing Sensible Soccer or is there a pretender to the crown? To find out whether Manchester United Premier League Champions is that pretender, read on. It isn't.

This is Krisalis' third in the er, trilogy of all three Manchester United licences. Unlike the previous two which used a side-on is viewed from above. Essentially, Manchester United Premier League Champions (from now on we'll call it MUPLC) is a mix of Sensible-style arcade action combined with elements usually found in footie management sims. So you can either play a single game, or manage and play for a team throughout a season which involves both league and cup runs. Sounds OK so far?

Manchester United don't actually play a huge part in this. The club badge is on the credits along with Incie and The Boy Born With a Silver Football in His Mouth, but it's more a general footer game, so whether you love, loath, or are completely indifferent to Fergi's Red Devils it matters not a jot.

East Fife four
Mind, you have to listen to the crowd chanting: "Ferguson's red and white army". There's good news for fans of non-league teams because along with all the English clubs, there are a fair few sides from the lower end of the pyramid.

So you can play that Nortwich Victoria versus Witton Albion derby match you can always promised yourself. No Scottish teams though, which is a bit of a shame. But top marks to Krisalis for inputting a serious amount of team and player data. But no matter how many options there are, the important action takes place out on the park and if it plays badly, you really won't care how many blokes called Terry play for Bromsgrove Rovers. The top down view is tried and tested and it works fine. In fact, MUPLC visually resembles Sensible Soccer quite closely.

The first thing you notice is the speed - it's phenomenally fast, perhaps too fast. And although this can make for exciting action, it does make it difficult to play a short, controlled passing game. Krisalis really had the right idea (imitate Sensible SoccerMUPLC isn't as fluid or smooth as its Sensible counterpart, which is not to say it's bad, just that it could be better.


The game is an admirable attempt to combine both arcade action and management

All the teams have differing abilities. Man Utd are real sharpshooters with superquick players whereas say, Altrincham, are a bit easier to turn over. Krisalis have included something called a TactiGrid which enables you to position and utilise your players wherever you wish. And it works quite impressively. If you want all 10 outfield players t hug the right touchline, you can do it. And if you fancy changing tactics during the game you can zip to your TactiGrid and have a quick reshuffle.

Anyway, here's a few bad things about MUPLC. The borders around the screen are a tad wide - why? Couldn't they make the pitch any bigger? Match length is a standard four minutes, no more, no less. Considering that this game has over 3,000 players, each with individual statistics, surely they could have given us an option to play for a little bit longer. Distributing the ball from the goalkeeper accurately is tough, particularly if you want to just roll it to the full block.

Forfar five
So where does MUPLC stand? Firstly, although it isn't as good as Sensible Soccer, its many features make it a viable alternative, particularly for one layer wishing to guide a squad through a season. But as a two player game, it falls somewhat short of Sensible pride and joy and after playing MUPLC for a while, I felt the urge to boot up the old Sensi disks and play that instead. And I did.

Krisalis have made an admiral, it flawed attempt to combine addictive, arcade action with the rigours of management. And with a little more attention to detail on the arcade side, MUPLC could have been a real beauty - it is considerably better than the first two. As it is, it's my second favourite football game and if you're looking for a change from Sensible Soccer, MUPLC is the best alternative.



Manchester United: Premier League Champions logo

Das erste Soccergame zur WM ist da! Nur schade, daß Krisalis' drittes Manchester-Spiel trotz der Umstellung auf die vertikale Scrollrichting à la "Sensible Soccer" oder "Goal" nicht der ganz große Reißer ist.

An mangelnder Auswahl liegt's nicht: Zwei Spielgeschwindigkeiten, Freundschaftsspiel, Pokal - und Ligamodus sind im Angebot, wobei nicht nur die Zahl (von 2 bis 64), sondern auch die Zusammenstellung der Mannschaften in weitem Umfang variierbar ist. Das geht sowohl per Hand als auch mit zufallsgesteuerter Computerhilfe, außerdem darf man festlegen, wie viele Punkte es für einen Sieg bzw. ein Unentschieden in der Liga gibt und ob man im Pokalmodus auf Verlängerungen, Elfmeterschießen oder Rückspiele Wert legt.

Beim Personal kann man auf einen Fundus von 2.500 englischen Kickern mit originaler Haar- und Hautfarbe zurückgreifen; deutsche Teams mußten leider draußen bleiben.

Der wichtigste Spielmodus ist natürlich die Saison, bei der bis zu vier Menschen erst ihre (relativ mageren) Managemententscheidungen treffen dürfen, bevor sie die Jungs über den Platz lenken. Und damit schließlich auch die Statistiker zu ihrem Recht kommen, sind acht Tabellen enthalten, denen sich u.a. die Leistungen bestimmter Spieler und Mannschaften, die Torschützen sowie Verletzungs- oder Sperrzeiten entnehmen lassen.

Vor jeder Begegnung kann man nun zwischen drei Trikots wählen, anschließend sieht man die eigene Aufstellung die des Gegners. Dieser Taktikscreen mit dem zehn Werte umfassenden Fähigkeitsprofil der Cracks (etwa zum Festlegen der Elfmaterschützen) ist allererste Sahne, doch auch während des Matches können Spieler und Taktiken noch gewechselt werden.

Dazu gibt's eine Replayfunktion mit Zeitlupe, aber ohne Abspeichermöglichkeit, sowie haufenweise gelbe und rote Karten - typisch english halt.

An der Steuerung der Feldspieler ist wenig auszusetzen, die vom Computer kontrollierten Torhüter sind schon fast zu gut. Für Abwechslung sorgen zudem die unterschiedlichen Platzverhältnisse: Nasser, trockener, sumpfiger, vereister, vernebelter sowie vernebelter und vereister Rasen müßten eigentlich für jeden Geschmack etwas bieten!

Wo viel Licht ist, da ist meist auch etwas Schatten: Wenn zu viele Kicker auf einmal über das Screen dribbeln, wird das Game sichtbar langsamer, im übrigen scrollt die spartanische Grafik aber tadellos, die Musik klingt ziemlich lahm, während die Effekte in Ordnung gehen.

Abspeichern läßt sich nur die Saison, was angesichts der maximal 64 Teams in den Pokal-wettbewerben ein schlechter Witz ist. Zudem erweist sich die Matchdauer als unveränderlich, die Namen der Spieler und Mannschaften können ebenfalls nicht editiert werden, und die deutsche Übersetzung enthält so manchen Lapsus.

Das Gameplay erreicht somit nicht ganz die Klasse von "Sensible Soccer", aber wer die in den nächsten Wochen und Monaten anstehenden Soccergames nicht mehr abwarten mag, darf ruhig schon hier aud den Digi-Rasen stürmen. (mm)



Manchester United: Premier League Champions logo

It's once, twice, three times a footy-game licence - can Krisalis pull off the treble? Or not? Eh?

Sometimes, in one of my other lives, I find myself reviewing games for various console magazines. Quite often console games being what they are, I'll be playing some Street Fighter 2-clone one-on-one beat-'em-up, and when I do, there's one recurring thought that comes to my mind. Why? What's the point?

WHen a game so far out in front at the top of its genre exists, why does anyone bother writing games which are just a pale shadow of it, identical in every meaningful way but diluted and inferior and bereft of what imagination there may have been in the original? And that's the thought that keeps on forcing its way back into my head when I'm playing Manchester United Premier League Champions (MUPLC from now on, thanks). It's not actually rubbish or anything, indeed it's probably one of the Amiga's top three football games. But we've already got one Sensible Soccer, thanks - we don't need another one with half the features taken out.

Actually, on second thoughts, that's a little unfair. While on first attempt this feels like playing Sensible Soccer six months before it was finished, a little persistence reveals its true nature - this is Sensible Soccer. for Kick Off fans.

It's true. After my first few games of MUPLC, I found myself travelling back, back in time to the almost-forgotten days before I worked on AMIGA POWER, when I first tried a new and enormously popular football game called Kick Off. I'd heard so much about it that I was almost beside myself with excitement, but when I finally got hold of a copy and started to play, I was crushingly disappointed.

It was stupidly fast, the ball flew around like it was ona pinball table, and nothing I seemed to do to the joystick appeared to have any kind of predictable effect on the on-field proceedings. It was one of the most intense and frustrating let-downs in my long gameplaying life, and I thought I'd seen the last of it.

But it's back. Holding 'up' on the joystick and pressing fire only to see the ball shot off diagonally backwards, overhead-kicking free kicks into my own net, giving away penalties, while the joystick sat unattended on the desk, all of these horrific experiences returned to haunt me while playing , and I'm not best pleased about it.


We've already got one Sensible Soccer, thanks

ONLY SING
MUPLC, you see, features a control system far closer to Dino Dini's original - kicking is actually triggered when you let go the fire button, not when you hit it - and it's so unnatural the game's almost crippled from the off. Sensible Soccer's one-tap automatic passing has consequently gone for a button too, and with it that game's possibility of smooth, flowing, skilful football, MUPLC is a much more reactive affair, where you have to belt the ball into space and then do the best you can with where it lands, rather than planning any clever stringing-together of deliberate passes.

Except it's all so fast (noticeable faster thanSensible, and rather too fast for my liking) that you don't get a chance to react properly either - you just have to waggle the joystick optimistically in the general direction you want to go and hope something useful results..

TRAGEDY
There's a far more unwelcome intrusion even than this, though - reality. You see, while MUPLC's players all have a wide range of statistical attributes roughly in line with their reall-life abilities, they're also human beings, and hence not infallible. Hence, while,MUPLC broadly adopts a ball-sticks-to-feet policy compared to Sensible's demanding dribbling, it's prone to realistically failing at random in the middle of a run.

So, you can be weavering down the wing, beating defender after defender on a wonderful mazy breakaway when suddenly you'll just lose control of the ball and it'll trickle away from your fee,t although you haven't done anything different to what you've been doing in the past 10 seconds when it was stuck to you like glue. This is a deliberately built-in feature (it also applies to aftertouch - better players can bend the ball better and more often than less-talented ones - and refereeing decisions), and it's the most annoying thing I've ever experienced in a football game.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - if I want an accurate and authentic simulation of real football physics, I'll go down the park with a sodding football. Always, always, always, the point of a computer game is that skilful players should do better at it than crap ones - when you start throwing in random elements, you completely knacker the whole shooting match. If I take a goalkick with my goalkeeper with the joystick held diagonally to the top right, I want the ball to go in that direction every single time.

What I don't want is for it one time to fly off so far to the right of the pitch that it goes straight out for a throw in, and another time for it to go in a dead straight line up the pitch, smack off the head of a defender standing in front of the keeper who then falls over in surprise, and bounce right into the path of an onrushing forward who sticks it into the back of the net while my (computer-controlled) goalkeeper flaps around like a dickhead.

Once things like that start happening, what's the point of holding the joystick at all? Why not just press fire to start the game, then have the ball bounce around completely at random for 90 minutes and go off your diner, coming back only to see what the result turned out to be? It's crap. Really.

As I've said, though, this feels a lot like Kick Off in play, and you might like that (if you're mad). So let's look at some of the less subjective elements of the game, for information purposes. You get about 150 teams to choose from the various English leagues (no Scottish, European, International or 'wacky' teams, unless you count the Krisalis side). You can't customise the players, the teams or their strips (although, oddly, you DO get to choose which of their three kits your opponents wear), and you can't alter the length of games, but you can choose whether you want extra time or not (although, unlike in Sensible, it comes either with penalties or not at all, you can't have extra time and then a replay).


This feels a lot like Kick Off in play

BLINDER
There are seven kinds of pitch, including a new 'foggy' option, and you can custom-build leagues (including awarding up to five points for a win and between nought and five for a draw) and cups, and give them names of your choosing, which you couldn't do in Sensible. Actually selecting the teams for competitions is a bit of an overcomplicated pain the bum, but that's hardly a major complaint.

MUPLC's big plus point is the TactiGrid™ system, which allows you to precisely tailor your team's formation. Each player can be individually assigned to a single square on the pitch (although obviously he'll still run around wherever necessary), so you're not restricted to five or six preset set-ups. You can even instruct your entire team to line up down the right-hand touchline if you like. You can access the TactiGrid™ at any deadball point during a match, which is great if you get into a 1-0 lead with 10 minutes to go and want to stick every single one of your men inside your own 18-yard box. (Of course, the unpredictable nature of the controls might make this a rather dangerous approach).

As an aside to this, you can even decide in advance which of your players you want to nominate to take penalties, attacking free-kicks and defensive free-kicks.

At the end of the day, though, eve the niceties of the TactiGrid™ are just window-dressing on an ill-considered and irritating game. Playing this, in both one-player and two-player modes, made me angry and frustrated, whereas playing Sensible had me shouting and pointing and jumping up and down in sheer excitement.

Down below in that On the Other Hand box, Steve's going to tell you this isn't as bad as I'm painting it, but remember - he still really likes Kick Off. As I said at the start, MUPLC is mostly almost exactly like Sensible Soccer but not nearly as good. So why bother?


SURELY THAT'S (NOT) A FOUL, REF?
It's nice to see another touch of realism in MUPLC - here, Chelsea (in the red-and-white) are putting intense pressure on the Millwall goal towards the end of a tight 0-0 tussle. It looks like no-one's going to break the deadlock, but...
Manchester United: Premier League Champions
The Chelsea no.20 (Glenn Hoddle) bears intently down on the keeper, as a Millwall defender closes in to tackle...
Manchester United: Premier League Champions
"Hello," thinks the ageing forward, "got to be a chance of a penalty here." With the defender's boot still a yard and a half away, the striker launches himself spectacularly into the air.
Manchester United: Premier League Champions
A sickening crunch of bodies later, Hoddle lies, apparently close to death, prone on the turf. The surprised fullback continues sliding past.
Manchester United: Premier League Champions
The ref awards the penalty. The defence and goalkeeper dejectedly troop back to their appointed positions, as Hoddle hams it up in the box for a bit longer.
Manchester United: Premier League Champions
But - hurrah! - justice is seem to be done, as the reverse angle replay shows Cascarino's poor kick being turned past the post by the Millwall keeper. It's a funny old game, football.
IT'S ALL ABOUT TACTICS
As I've already said, the best thing about MUPLC is the TactiGrid™. No more boring 4-3-3, 4-2-4, 4-4-2 options here, oh no. Just look at some of the novel and interesting combinations you can play around with.
Manchester United: Premier League Champions
1. The Paraonoid Agoraphobic - nervous of the wide green expanses of the pitch, the players huddle together in corners and talk about each other.
Manchester United: Premier League Champions
The Wimbledon - despite its name, this tactic can be used by any side.
Manchester United: Premier League Champions
The Tuning FOrk - this one's ideal for intimidating the opposing goalie... Basically a natural progression of the sweeper system.
Manchester United: Premier League Champions
The 1-0 Up With A Minute To Go - less predictable than you think. Fire the ball into the area and watch it ricochet around like a steel ball in an elastic band factory.
Manchester United: Premier League Champions
The Surprising Effective - this one once netted me six goals in 22 minutes. Knock the ball straight out to the side from goalkeeper or kick off, and watch as a terrifying horde descends diagonally on the opposition keeper. Even if you get tackled, there are so many players following up that the ball eventually ends up in the net through sheer weight of numbers. Do try to avoid passing out to the left wing by accident however.

Manchester United: Premier League Champions logo CU Amiga Screen Star

It may have one of the longest names ever, but Tony Dillon finds Krisalis' latest football foray is every bit as good as the other snappier titles.

If there was ever a good reason for a software company to experiment with various types of football simulation, it has to be a hit licence. Can there be anyone, apart from Audiogenic with their Emlyn Hughes' season of games, who made more use of a soccer licence than Krisalis? I could attempt to list all the ways in which they have used the Manchster United name, but I fear I would run out of room. Some have been amazing, some have been dreadful, but Manchester United Premier League Champions is one of the best.

THE STEP OVER THE CLIFF
Some would say that Krisalis went as far as they could with the old side on, forced perspective view. Others would say that particular style of football game went out with the Commodore 64. Both parties will be happy to know that the latest release is a top-down approach, as used in practically every football game since Kick Off. if you thought that arcade football games had run out of new tricks to play, Manchester United Premier League Champions which from this point will be known as MUPLC to save wear and tear on my keyboard, will most definitely surprise you.

At first glance, it bears more in relation to Sensible Soccer than anything else. The players are quite small on screen, there is very little on-screen information (no scanner, the score only appears at important points in the match, along with the current time) and it can get quite fast and frantic. The teams have distinctive strips, and the ball is greatly affected by the type of pitch it is rolling on. There is a school of though that says Sensible Soccer is as far as this type of game can go before it becomes unplayable. I agree, but this still gets a huge mark due to all the work that actually goes on behind the scenes, rather than on the pitch itself.

If you have a licence of a real world team, then it makes perfect sense to set your game in the real world too. Every team in here, and there are hundreds to choose from, are all real teams with real players and, get this, real abilities. A Third Division team would never stand a chance against a Premier Division one, and that is shown in this game. Try to pit the two against each other, and you will discover for yourself exactly how outclassed you can be.

GET REAL MAN
The realism of the game has to be one of its strong points. By using real players, that are as up to date as it is possible to be, the game has its own built in difficulty level. If you are beginner to the game, then you should be able to hold your own against only the worst of the bottom division teams. As you progress through the game and become more competent, you will find the higher leagues easier and easier to play against until you can beat everyone.

Possibly this game's biggest strength is a single tactical screen called the Tactigrid. This marvelous invention allows you to tailor your formation and instruct individual players in a way never before seen in a computer football game. Forget programmed set pieces, throw away any preconceived notions about having fifteen different formations to play with.

The Tactigrid allows you to program the exact way your team plays, from how wide you want a defender to wing, to how many midfield players should run forward when it looks like game is going on the attack. On the Tactigrid screen you select your team from the full squad - not just the first team - by browsing through their statistics covering aspects such as stamina, speed and intelligence, and then you can set the overall layout of your play.

Thankfully, this screen can be pulled up at any point in the match, so you can change your playing tactics at any point. There is no better way to turn a match around, as I found when playing against an experienced human opponent for the first time. Within no time at all, I found that I could run the ball down the wing and then chip it into the box for an almost guaranteed goal every time. Half time cam, and my opponent moved his midfield players wide while bringing his defenders back into the box. In the second half I couldn't even get into the box, let alone score from it. This is really what makes the game as challenging as it is, and is the one facet that will bring you back to play it again and again.

Of course, you might actually be wondering what the game is really like to play. Surprisingly good, although the speed of the game might take a little adjusting to. It all seems to run a lot faster than previous games, particularly on the dry or frosty pitches, and the ball spends a lot less time in the air than it does in other games. What makes it so playable is the fact that the team works like a team. Players are where you would realistically expect them to be, responding to the flow of the game properly, instead of returning to some preset mark on the pitch as soon as they are off screen.

MUPLC is one hell of a good football game. Although the actual match itself might not be as smooth or fluid as Sensible Soccer, and the controls might not be as comprehensive as Goal!, the tactical side of the game gives you far more control over your team than either of those. One worth having in your collection.


MANAGEABLE HAIR

Something I've never been accused of having, but a weak link into one of the more unusual parts of the game. Along with all the usual fantasy league and cups that are par for the course with these games, Manchester United Premier League Champions features all sorts of other little charts, showing your progress through the leagues and seasons, lists of top goalscorers, highest scoring teams and all sorts of gubbins designed to appeal to the more managerial minded players out there. Funnily enough, the only difference between this and a managerial game is the buying and selling players option. Maybe it is saved for the sequel!

EASIER THAN SETTING THE TIMER

Like Sensible Soccer, MUPLC features an instant replay feature that lets you wind back from an especially impressive goal and watch it over and over again. If you like, you can watch it in slow motion, follow the action by focussing on a specific player, and even watch the action from the other side of the goal! Depending on the amount of memory you have, you can wind right back to the start of the match and watch the entire thing in slow motion. I can't think any better way to wind up your mates!


Manchester United: Premier League Champions logo CD32

Krisalis/£30

Amiga version: 63% AP36
God, I hate Man Utd. I hate them because they think they're so bloody good at everything. And if I hear the name Ryan Giggs again I'm going (Home? - Ed) to explode in a terrifying example of the phenomenon known as spontaneous combustion.

Still, at least I can have my revenge upon them in the 'statistically correct' and 'highly realistic' MUPLC. Well, I would be able to if the game was any 'good' and I actually 'enjoyed' played the damn thing.

Readers with long-term memories (or issue 36) may remember dear old Stuart harping on about how this game wasn't Sensi, but more like Sensi for Kick Off fans. Now, not wishing to knock dear old Stuart, he was utterly wrong. Kick Off is a lot better than this.

But hey, this is the CD32 version, and maybe (just maybe) they've ironed out some of those awful faults - the peculiarly inconsistent controls, for example, and the 'realistic' wrong-footing during dribbling.

Nope, it's still exactly the same awful, uncontrollable, frustrating and downright unenjoyable game of football it ever was. Ironically, the non-playing sections (i.e, the management and stats) are comprehensive and atmospheric, and the 'tacti-grid' feature (whereby you can freely customise your team formation at any point in the game) is extremely impressive.

Perhaps if they'd beefed up the management elements and radically changed the weak-on-the-pitch (or perhaps dispensed with it entirely), they'd have ended up with a nice little game. But they didn't, and they haven't.



Manchester United: Premier League Champions logo CD32

KRISALIS £29.99 OUT NOW

It's hard enough trying to review this game on a whole page, let alone half a page. After all, with a name the size of Manchester United Premier League Champions, how can you find room to actually say something about the game? So from now on I won't actually mention the name, I'll just get on with telling you about it.

Take your basic, run-of-the-mill top view arcade soccer game, somewhere between Football Glory and Sensible Soccer. Now add a touch of managerial flair to it, throw in every type of league, cup and fixture group you can think of, and finally a large dollop of usable, logical tactics for good measure, and you've pretty much got this game in one.

Essentially there are two parts to this game. The first is the tactical section, which I have to say is brilliant. You are presented with a little gizmo called a Tacti-Grid, which shows you the layout of your team. With this you can reposition players around the pitch as well as show them basically how to play (attacking, defensive, winger, etc).

Then you go into the second half of the game, which is a very playable arcade soccer setup, a la Sensi, and you can see how your tactics have worked. If they're failing, you can jump back out to the Tacti-Grid and try again.

The nice thing about it all is that tactics really do make a difference. If you notice that your opponent always passes into the box, then you can pull the defenders back and he or she will always be foiled. Similarly, you can look for weaknesses in their defence and exploit them, and that's what makes this such a superb game.

Forget the great presentation, or the dozens of photographs that appear throughout the CD version. It's the tactics and the gameplay that will make this one a clear winner.