Manchester United logo

KRISALIS £24.95 * Joystick and Mouse

The heavyweights of the First Division have leant their name to this one or two player simulation of their club - can Anco's Kick Off hold off this challenge and keep its place at the top or will Man Utd steal the crown?

To kick off, it's a game of two halves - arcade and management. In the arcade game things take the standard form - you control the player nearest the ball and by passing to other players and shooting attempt to put the ball past their goalie. The player first selects his team from his pool of players (goalkeeper in goal, strikers up front and so on is a good idea). Then once the length of each half has been decided it's time to play the game, which features a side-on view of the action.

Should you decide to play the full management simulation, though, you not only have to look after your team, but must also guide them through a complete season including Littlewoods and FA Cup matches. Looking after your team involves overseeing the training programmes of each squad member and arranging for the transfer and acquisition of old and new players.

Once you've checked that everything is in order you can launch into a game and sit back to watch your team go about their business. Should things take a turn for the worse you can always join in with a quick press of the fire button and take over and try to get things back on an even keel.

Fortunately, there's a host of options to make your life easier if you're finding things tough, such as the opposition rating - where you can decide just how good the opposition's goalie, attack and defence are going to be- and the game save feature which means you don't have to play the whole season through in one sitting.

GRAPHICS AND SOUND

The ball moves like it's full of lead, not air, but the animation is not the smoothest ever seen. Then there are the digitised piccies of real TV footage every time a goal is scored - this (almost impossible to see) clip would be a nice tough if it was anything like the goal you or your opponent had just scored, but it isn't. The sound is poor, being limited to a one second loop of almost crowd-like white noise and a few bumps as the ball moves around. Second Division quality in both terms.

LASTING INTEREST

Better, especially if you're a fan. Completing a season will take some time and t's tough especially if you play against a half-competent human opponent or have the opposition set to 100% when playing the computer. The lack of depth in the game, though, kills off its overall lasting interest.

JUDGEMENT

The arcade game is not bad, it's just not brilliant. The biggest let-down is the management game which is far too limited. Man Utd falls down where every other arcade/management game has fallen down- the arcade side is not as good as it could be in gameplay terms and the management side is far too limited to standup o its own.


Manchester United logo Amiga Joker Hit

Fußballspiele gibt es für den Amiga schon haufenweise, Fußballmanagerspiele ebenso - aber beides in einem? In dieser Hinsicht steht Krisalis Softwares neues Game allein auf weiter Flur! Aber es kommt noch besser...

Tja, er ist tatsächlich eine kleine Premiere: Bis dato hat uns die Software-Industrie meist Arcade-Fußball geboten, als bekannteste (und beste!) Vertreter waren da vor allem "Kick Off" und "Microprose Soccer" zu nennen. Auf der anderen Seite gibt es für die Strategen unter uns die Managerspiele, bei denen es mehr auf geschicktes Taktieren ankommt als auf große Joystick-Künste. Bisher waren diese beiden Fußballwelten immer getrennt wie Damen- und Herrentoiletten - bisher!

Bei Manchester United kann der Spieler wählen zwischen besagter Mischung oder dem reinen Arcadeteil (Quasi als Notlösung für Action-Freaks!). Kommen wir zuerst zur Action: Hier wird von links nach rechts gescrollt, äh, geruckelt. Alles was man aus der Sportschau so kennt gibt's auch hier: Pässe, Frei- und Eckstöße, Elfmeter, Fouls, Schiri und Linienrichter. Der Ball wird schön schnell gespielt, das Ganze sieht recht realistisch aus und macht einen Höllenspaß. Erwähnenswerte Details sind eine Zeitlupenwiederholung auf der Videoeinwand (schlecht sichtbar, aber das ist in Wirklichkeit schließlich auch so), ein Art Radarschirm, auf dem man den Standort von Ball und Spielern sieht, sowie ein Anzeige-Pfeil, der den gerade aktiven Spieler markiert.

Wie sieht nun der Managerteil aus? Vertreten sind die üblichen Standard-Optionen, wie Mannschaftsaufstellung, Verletzungen, Transfers, Training und so weiter. Dazu die obligatorischen Tabellen und Statistiken, die das Strategen da sein erst zu richtig versüßen. Alles in allem eine robuste, wenn auch etwas hausbackene Managersimulation - besser als die meisten, aber natürlich nicht so ausgefeilt wie z.B. "Bundesliga Manager".

Die Grafik ist, gemessen an anderen Fußball-Games, sehr gut, vereinzelt werden digitalisierte Bilder verwendet, etwa bei den Portraits der Spieler. Die Steuerung im Managerteil erfolgt komplett über Icons, ungewohnterweise per Doppelklick. Sound: Die Musik paßt schön zum Thema, die Effekte während des Spiels sind nicht ganz so gelungen. Die Einzelteile sind für sich betrachtet schon recht ordentliche ComputerUnterhaltung, zusammen ergeben sie ein sehr gutes und lange motivierendes Fußballspiel, das sogar einen Footballmanager-Muffel wie mich eine ganze Weile bei der Stange gehalten hat! Ein paar Minuspunkte muß man trotzdem noch erwähnen: Der Actionteil hat keine Pause-Funktion; die Anleitung ist zwar in passablem Deutsch, sie klärt den Spieler aber beispielsweise nicht darüber auf, daß man mit den F-Tasten das Radar verschieben kann. Außerdem muß man im Actionteil mindestens 10 Minuten speilen, sonst geht gar nix - aber das dürfte den echten Fusßball-Fan eigentlich kaum schocken... (mm)


Manchester United logo

Here we go (here we go, here we go) with another of the many football games you can expect to see this year. Why has everyone gone football crazy? Well, it's World Cup year innit! Here's the latest, it's the officially licensed Manchester United game from Krisalis. We briefed David Wilson to see what he could 'score' for us on the 'Red Devils'.

As you saw in last month's preview, Manchester United is Krysalis' first venture into the 'funny old game' of football. Footie games are very big business and in the past have come in one or two formats. There's been the arcade game la Anco's Kick Off and Match Day 2, and the management type game such as the seminal Football Manager and Anco's new title Player Manager. Now things are changing, with two attempts being made to combine elements of both, Emlyn Hughes International Soccer from Audiogenic and Krysalis' Manchester United.

"Why Man United?" I hear you ask, "What with them being so... er... crap at the moment!?" Well, there are two reasons: firstly, Manchester United are reputed to have the largest following of any English club. After the Munich tragedy, when most of Man Utd's '57/58 season first team were killed in an air crash, the British public took the team in their hearts.

When Matt Busby took a team consisting largely of unproven youngsters through the 1958 FA Cup final something completely new came about. Until this time, the 'done thing' was to support your 'home side'. (If you lived in Newcastle you supported Newcastle United, if you lived in Cardiff you supported Cardiff City, and if you lived in Bolton you were very sad indeed).
The emotion provoked by the Man Utd tragedy gained the team new supporters throughout the country and lead for the first time to people being fans of teams other than the 'home' side. (What about the second reason? Ed). Er... Oh yes. The second reason was that when the licence was secured some six months ago, the Red Devils were actually doing very well (hem hem).

Amiga reviewDavid: Blimey! Er... my knowledge about football is about as comprehensive as Jan Leeming's idea on the internal combustion engine. In fact, when the Ed told me to get the low down on the 'Red Devils', I'd already undergone six months of intensive training with the Royal Airforce parachute display team of the same name before I realised he was referring via popular moniker to Manchester United!

You try telling a bristling Sergeant Major on a Hercules C-130 transport aircraft at 15,000 feet that it's all been a terrible mistake and could you possibly 'sit' this one out.

Anyway, safely back on Terra Firma, Man United is one of the most userfriendly footie games I've ever seen. As well as providing the option of several different languages, you can even change the keyboard configuration to suit foreign keyboards. People who say things like 'Zut Alors' and 'Donner und Himmel' use different letters more commonly than we do. That's why the letters on their keyboards are laid out differently. (This is also why you'd be ill advised to take them on at Scrabble).

You can preset skill levels over each of the categories e.g. Midfield or Defence and (something new here) you can also alter the skill levels of your opponents! Remember in the past how tough computerised opposition could be? Well, if you don't fancy your chances, here's an opportunity to make them really useless!
Alternatively, if you're a bit of a genius (masochist) you can reduce your players skill level by 50%. This in effect cuts all your teams factors in half, i.e. they are half as fit, move half as slowly and are half as accurate at passing etc.

Furthermore, you can opt to switch off the arcade bit, or switch off the strategy bit. And(!) if you don't want to physically play the arcade sequences, you can sit back and let the computer play for you based upon the variables that you've altered. (You could even go and make a cup of tea, and come back and take over from the computer half way through!)

The management game is the usual icon-driven affair, where you start with a certain amount of cash and the existing Man Utd. Team (all represented quite nicely by digitised pics of the lads). Each match you play will bring in more cash, and this can be used to buy and sell players from the transfer market as well as bidding for players not on the market and scouting for new talent.

Each player has values for several factors including handling, tactics, positioning etc. and can be improved by training. They can also decrease with neglect! Training can be light, medium or heavy - the latter brings the best results but choose to train heavily in 'tackling' and you risk injuring players. You can also lose players through suspension!

Examine the league table and the computer will give you your fixture list, including the FA Cup games. YOUr progress is shown in the form of the headlines in the Daily Sport (No not that 'Sport' so don't expect to read the likes of "Man Utd Star Rogered My Hamster".) Here you'll see a synopsis on the state of play, as well as the league table top three.

Right, you've got your team, you've trained them to the peak of physical perfection (well, almost) and you're going into your first match. As you'll see from the screenshots, the game is viewed from the side-on, slightly above ground level, viewpoint and what a lot of detail there is here! Loads of K has been devoted to rendering the stadium, the crowd, even the ref and linesmen in lovely colourful detail! The player sprites are nicely detailed and gameplay is actually pretty fast.

As is common in this type of game, the player you control is the one nearest the ball. If the opponent has the ball and you're speeding along at his heels, then by releasing the joystick, the computer will designate the next player for your control. Although there's no meter on screen, the power of the kick is determined by the length of time you hold down the fire button, and direction of kick by direction the joystick is pushed.

If the ball passes a player at head height then he'll head it to his feet, or if he's in the goal mouth, at the goal. Oh, and pressing fire when you challenge an opponent initiates a sliding tackle. Your goal keeper is computer-controlled during normal play (so train him well!), but for penalties you can opt to control him.

If you manage to score, then apart from the crowd giving a hearty cheer, you'll be treated to one of five digitised black and white goal scoring sequences (a bit like Lost Patrol but without the raw meat) and that's it really.

If anyone out there is familiar with the formative Match Day 2 from Ocean, the arcade footie game on the 8-bit machines, then Man Utd's arcade section plays very much on a par with that (but without the two player bit). A huge football management game with a rather slick arcade game to boot. (Geddit?) Stop


BLOOMIN' TEQUE!
IT'S THE PROGRAMMERS!
Manchester United: Programmers David Colledge (left) and Pete Harrap (right) circa 1990
The Man United (programming) team. On the left we have Teque's graphic artist, David Colledge, and on the right it's programmer Pete Harrap. Pete's credits include Way Of The Tiger, Pacmania and Amiga conversions of Chase HQ, and Toobin'. He is a Doncaster supporter.
David's graphics have graced Blasteroids, Xybots and Grandslam's new Sega conversion Scramble Spirits. He's a Sheffield Wednesday supporter (hem, hem).

Manchester United logo

Krisalis, C64 £9.99 cassette, £14.99 disk; Amiga £24.99

'The most famous club in the world' (rubbish, that's Clee Hill Utd! - Phil) has had its problems in the League recently, though Alex Ferguson saved his bacon by winning the FA Cup. But maybe you think you could do a better job, so here's your chance. As well as making managerial decisions you can even play for the entire team!

But before you get your boots on, there's a bit of managing to do via the icon-driven menu system. Each member of squad has a position and several individual skill ratings. Players aren't set in their abilities though: you can use the selective training option to improve each of six attributes.

Of course, no amount of training will be enough for some old snoggers (Bryan Robson? - Phil) so they can be sold and new players bought via the transfer system. You can attempt to buy any of the players on the transfer list or make a bid for those not listed although they're likely to cost more. If another club makes a bid for one of your players you can accept, refuse or even insult the chairman if it's a derisory offer!

Before the next league match the team must picked along with one of five formations. The arcade section is then multiloaded in. Matches are viewed from overhead (on the C64) on a scrolling pitch with the teams kicking left/right. On the Amiga it's a side-on view. Both United and the opposition can be player- or computer-controlled.

Players dribble automatically and shoot when the fire button is released - the strength of kick determined by the time fire was held down. In addition you can chip the ball by pressing fire again quickly afterwards. Tackling is achieved either by running into the ball or by doing a sliding tackle. If mistimed the latter can lead to a free kcik: players can get suspended for bad fouls while their victim may be injured. Both free kicks and corners can be accurately aimed by moving a cursor where you want the ball to land.

Game options allow you to change match duration, adjust computer skill level for United and opponents, and turn the management section off. The two-disk Amiga version has been around some time now. Identical to the C64 in management mode apart from the digitised piccies of the United players, its elevated side-on view of the action also features a radar scanner and a set digitised 'action replay' when a goal is scored.


Phil King This is no Player Manager but it's enjoyable enough. The C64 game features all of the Amiga's management options and a better match section to boot. The overhead-view is preferable to the Amiga's side-on perspective while the Kick-Off-style players are well animated and move at a reasonable pace. In both versions the control method is easy enough to be instinctive while the management side is detailed enough without being over-complex.
Sadly, the Amiga game's spoilt somewhat by a poor match section with less effective side-on perspective and bland players seemingly skating along the grass!
Scorelord Amiga Man Utd's actual footie game oozes glitzy details, with a ref, linesmen, players taking goal kicks and even poorly digitised 'replays'. But the colours used are awful, they really are very bland indeed, while gameplay is unremarkable. Scoring goals is very tough and the game doesn't compare well with Emlyn Hughes for playability.
The C64 version boasts even tougher goalies, but the worst thing is how control switches rapidly and confusingly between players. There's simply too many players milling around for it to be more than a messy scrum. The graphics are okay though, and the management elements in both versions are fairly comprehensive.