TEAM

Reviewed by Andy Maddock

Believe it or not there's actually been a slight decline in the amount of football games recently. The last decent one we say was Player Manager 2 and that was a good few months ago. There have been some management sims in between, but none of them proving too special.

Impact Software are the latest 'team' (hoo ha) to have a dablle in the football world, and let's hope the amazingly bold statement on the back of the box will ring true. 'Probably the best football game EVER!!!!' may sound a little out of context, considering that Team - at its best - could quite possibly be the poor man's SWOS, although now Sensi Soccer is cheaper, it's more a rather rich and very stupid man's SWOS.

On the back of the box there is all sorts of blurb that certainly doesn't quite ring true. In fact, you'd be forgiven for taking a second look at the box after a minute or two pf playing - probably thinking they've put a different game in the box. Then, following the humiliation of the retailers confirming your misery, you'd have to go home and squeeze £25's worth of entertainment out of it.

My idea of reviewing a game is to play it to absolute death until I've managed to scrape down enough advantages and disadvantages as to why you'd spend a good £25 on that particular game. Well, Team did come up with many disadvantages, but I couldn't actually think of any advantages - at all. This is quite disappointing because I tried so hard too.


as soon as you kick off, the opposing striker will receive the ball and run all the way to your goal, hammering it past your keeper every time

The nearest I come to an advantage was the music - which is only just above average in quality - along with the collision detection between the ball, boards, players and the goal. There are too many disadvantages to mention. Oh, alright then.

The player sprites are absolutely awful. It's unbelievable to see the sprites crawling across the screen with a slight flicker that is supposed to be them running quickly. If there is one aspect that does make it look good then it's the scrolling - it's fast and smooth but doesn't really stand out because of the appalling sprites. It really is unplayable as football goes.

The idea of football is obviously to score more goals than the opposing team but as soon as you kick off in this game, the opposing striker will receive the ball and consequently run all the way to your goal,hammering it past your keeper every time - well, until the final whistle gladly rings out to signal the end of a 25-0 trashing. It seems a bit ironic for this to happen because the actual title of the game is 'Team'.

You can play a league, cup, or simply a friendly, but for a football game today, this simply isn't good enough. The major fault of this setup is that there isn't anything to aim for or any reward at the end.


Manual! What manual?

To give you an example of what Team contains and how many options there are, the manual that comes with the game has only four black and white printed sides. It's actually difficult to call it a manual as it could quite easily be mistaken for a pamphlet of some description. So, not only have you made one trip to the shop to see if it's the right game, you're probably going to go back again and ask for the manual, and unsurprisingly, more humiliation will follow: 'Look there it is, it's hiding behind that rather more prominent and colourful piece of advertising rubbish that nobody ever reads.'

Final word

I can't really, and don't want to, explain how this compares to Sensible Soccer. I think Impact Software would do well to re-think their strategy and make plans for a sequel that would help us forgive and forget. To be fair, they've got the basics, so if they can improve on them, who knows. However, as it stands, it's just one of those games that will probably disappear into nothing - never returning. Hurrah!



TEAM

"Probably the best football game ever!!" screams the back of Team's box. We'll let Steve Bradley be the judge of that.

Well I guess we'd better nail this misapprehension early doors, for Team most certainly isn't the best football game ever. In fact, Team is an extremely poor football game, vying for the moniker of "Worst ever football game to look a bit like Sensible Soccer".

Consider the following: There is only one league of teams, the English Premiership. And they're out-of-date by a season. Doh! Come on guys, if you're going to give us real teams and real players, at least make a vague attempt to ensure they're up-to-date,

"High-quality sound effects" and "fully-animated crowd" are also lovingly enscribed on the packaging. The effects take the form of 'tic' (yes, I kid you not) when the ball is passed and a drum tap when the ball hits the advertising hoardings. Oh, and there is the occasional burst of horrendous 'white' crowd noise.

Another boxular comment: "Innovative gameplay". Wrong. Imagine the chaps at Sensible Software playing a real early version of Sensible Soccer, Jon Hare chipping in with: "We should be about there in six months". Team looks a bit like Sensible, but play them back to back and Team flounders embarrassingly,

The ball is difficult to control, it's incredibly tough to string any kind of passing manoeuvres (what with there being no pass-to-feet option at all) and the players seem to be way apart from each other which, considering your vast pitch view is somewhat ludicrous.

Team is a mere journeyman when compared to the majestic SWOS.

Why do these people bother? They must have played Sensible Soccer, Football Glory, Goal!, et al. Surely you can learn a lesson or two from the way these games have been put together in the way that the players move and interact and in the way that the sound complements the action? In Team's case, the answer is clearly no.

Not that one would be so cynical as to suggest that some programmers are content to trot out any old example of the Amiga;s bestselling genre, that some are not even vaguely concerned whether their game is pushing boundaries, knowing full well that they can flog a few, no matter the quality.

We'll give coders Impact Software the benefit of the doubt. Chances are they're enthusiasts just like you and me. A labour of love that went horribly wrong? Who knows? Team just feels horrible though; a mere journeyman when compared to the majestic SWOS, that game by which all football games on this platform shall be judged. But the price? 30 quid is outrageous. "You cannot be serious," as John McEnroe might have put it.



TEAM

The AP scout is in town and won't settle for anything less than the best.

Most Sundays the Montezuma Road Landfill Casuals only just managed to field a full team. The lads from the garage on the corner and the fat wheezy bloke who ran the newsagents made a regular appearance and formed the enthusiastic if slightly shambolic defence/mid-field combination.

A couple of accountants and a quantity surveyor from the new estate usually managed at least one week in three to play up front, while the young lad, Team, (who played centre forward and thought he was the new Sensible Soccer) turned up every week without fail.

This week was different, though. This week the talent scout from AMIGA POWER was in the 'crowd' (two girlfriends, an old bloke with a dog and the fat wheezy bloke's mum) and he was looking for new blood for the AP All-Stars. This week there was a full team, six potential subs and a ball boy with a broken ankle. It was an important game.

They gave their all for 90 muddy minutes. They ran, dived, kicked, headed, sweated and, in the case of the fat wheezy bloke from the newsagents, groaned, gasped for breath and got carried off by an old couple from the St John's Ambulance. The Dog And Trouser Press Second XI B-Team Reserves beat them 16-nil.


The Dog and Trouser Press

GLEAMING
It was an appalling performance and everyone knew they'd blown their chances of ever playing for a big team. Everyone, that is, except Team. As the scout climbed into his gleaming sports car, Team ran up to him and said, "Well, what did you think then?"

His mates tried to call him back, to stop him from making even more of a fool of himself, but he just stood there, glaring at the scout, waiting for an answer. The scout unlocked the car door and started to climb in.
"Sorry, son," he said.
"What do you mean, 'Sorry, son?'I'm bloody great,me. I'm the best football game ever."

The scout sighed, He'd seen it a million times before - the keen-eyed youngster with no chance at all who knew he was going to be a big star. He knew he should let the lad down gently, offer him some friendly encouragement and tell him there was always next year, but he was tired, it was raining, it was a long way home and the lad was, to be thoroughly frank, crap at football and an annoying little git to boot.

"I mean, 'sorry son, you'll never make it to the big league because you're rubbish."
"But I'm the best football game ever."
"Says who?" asked the AP scout, trying hard not to laugh.
My mum. Look, she's written it here on my colourful box."
"Ah yes, your box. I wasn't going to mention that, but since you brought it up... Is that crayon you've used for your title?"
"No, Team said, defiantly, "it's coloured pencil. My mum got a set from Mrs Jenkins at the art shop in the village. They're very good ones. Top artists use them."

"I see. Still, having someone write on your box that you're the best football game ever doesn't mean you are. Even if they did use really good coloured pencils."
"But I look just like Sensible Soccer.
"You might look like Sensible Soccer but you don't play like it."

"You're slow to react to changes in direction. You can't keep control of the ball. In fact it's nigh-on impossible to keep possession of the damn ball. There's never anyone in position for a pass. Everyone runs at the same speed no matter who they are or whether they've got the ball, and that makes it impossible to chase someone and use your limited arsenal of defensive tactics, namely the sliding tackle. A tackle which, I should add, almost always results in a free kick which isn't what I'm looking for."

"You automatically control the player nearest the ball no matter what else is going on so that if you're running at the player with the ball and he hoofs it away, you'll make your new player run in completely the wrong direction when you unexpectedly take control of him. There's no radar. There's only a limited view of the pitch. Most of the time you can't really see what's going on and it's not that interesting even when you can."

Team was beginning to sniffle a little and look at his feet. "But," he said, trying to control his cracking voice, "what about my league options?"
"What about them?"
"You can choose 22 teams and play a full season."
"Oh yes," said the scout, "I wanted to ask you about that. I can choose 22 teams from a list of 22, can't I? Why is that fun?"

"You can make your own custom teams, stupid,and put them in your league. You can have custom strips, custom names, custom hair and skin colour - everything. And when you play the league you can even watch the games that you're not playing in if you want."
"And why would I want?"
"I don't know. I've got action replay."
"I have a new three piece suite. And I want to go home and sit on it. Can I go now, please?"


I have a new three piece suite

AMATEUR
The scout began to climb into his car again.
"You can make substitutions and change player's positions on the field. I've got variable weather and pitch condition."

"Look son," said the scout, clambering once more out of his car, "all that's true. You have got action replay and you can make substitutions and perform limited management tasks during play. But those things are the minimum requirements these days. You're going out into a tough, competitive marketplace. The big boys have been playing out there for years and they know a thing or two.

If you want to get anywhere, you've got to beat the best, and the best is still Sensible Soccer. It's obvious from the way you've dressed yourself up that you see yourself as a rival for Sensible but you just haven't got what it takes. You look like an amateur, son. You don't have that world class flair, the style, the grace. You're just a Sunday league plodder. You look like one. You play like on. You sound like one."

"You've got to give me another chance, I know I can make it if you just give me one more chance. Oh go on. Please?"
The scout climbed into his car for the last time, started the engine and would down his window.
"Take it form me son, you're never going to make it. Go home, have a cup of tea, put your feet up and watch the telly. You're simply not good enough."

With that he put the car in gear, dropped the clutch and sprayed mud all over Team's hard-drawn box as he fishtailed out of the car park.
"Useless cretin," he muttered to himself.
"Miserable bastard," said Team as he shambled off to the changing room.



TEAM

Price: £29.95 Publisher: Impact Software 01280 850450

Football may be the sporting life-blood of this country, but in this case it's more of a haemorrhage...

Since the arrival of Sensible World Of Soccer, it seems a though developers have pretty much given up trying to produce a game to beat it. Instead, you get what happens here, something which attempts to emulate it but, like so many other attempts, blasts wide past the post and ends up with its head in its hand.

The similarities between this and SWOS are obvious from the moment you start playing. The graphics are incredibly similar, although with larger sprites - a potential one-up over Sensi if ever there was.

However, whether it's because the Sensi boys are complete lunatics and just have a lot more fun when they write games, or because Team's programmers just weren't up to the task, this game just feels so flat when you play it.

The action, like the gameplay doesn't flow as well as it should. Whether you're trying to dribble the ball or pas up-field the game just doesn't feel good to play. It's a hard thing to quantity, but it's something anyone who plays games will understand.

Unfortunately, because the presentation is kept to a minimum and the graphics are really nothing to shout about, there aren't any other features to mask this, so consequently you can't help but feel let down and soon find yourself reaching for the Sensi Soccer disks. In my case, these usually live on top of my Amiga.

I admire anyone who's brash enough to attempt to take on the mother of all footy games.
What I don't admire is when something like this comes along and can't even match up to Kick Off 2 which, if my failing memory serves, is somewhere in the region of five years old now. It's not a terrible game, just pointless when you consider what's available elsewhere.

Sorry, but this disk won't be tackling my Amiga again.