Top of the League logo

Reviewed by Andy Maddock

I expect you’ll probably be dreading these next few paragraphs as no doubt you’ll have heard it all before. However, don’t write off Top Of The League’s chances yet. You never know. Having been a football fan all my life, I seem to get all the new football games jumping onto my desk in a fanfare-like fashion, and to be honest, when you review one or two a month, like I do, they tend to become a tad repetitive. Bear with me though, as I plough through another 300 seasons in an attempt to bring you the low down on Digital Warehouse’s latest football management sim.

Two of the best football management games have actually made an appearance right here in this very issue. These happen to be Player Manager 2 and On The Ball. To beat these, Top Of The League has to be very special. In fact, damn near perfect to reach the standards these two giants have set.

Top Of The League is a management simulation only. You don’t get to physically play the games, just watch. The idea, as with most management games, is to win promotion from the third division into the Premier League and pick up every domestic trophy available in the process.

The actual depth of Top Of The League is quite remarkable

Top Of The League contains a whole host of statistics, but it’s a pity most of them aren’t really worth knowing as they all seem particularly irrelevant, and they don’t affect the match sequences. Everything you’d ever wish to know about a player can be accessed – birth date, birthplace, height and weight are just a few. The actual player statistics are measured in the most complicated way, becoming very difficult to asses the player’s true value. They are rated from poor to brilliant and when each player has about 20 different statistics it’s difficult to reach an overall rating.

The game itself is accessed through various menus and, sadly, are all joystick controlled. The mouse pointer is actually there, but doesn’t serve any purpose. This is a real disappointment because the mouse is a far more accurate and comfortable way to play a game – especially if it’s for a particularly lengthy period. The match sequences are reasonably exciting, although there are so many numbers flashing on and off the screen it is difficult to assess your overall team performance. By the time you’ve read them, the match will be over.

The actual depth of Top Of The League is quite remarkable. You can look at any player’s history and give them a man-to-man pep talk. If he was booked during the last game, you can give him a good telling off and instruct him to try harder. You can even have a friendly chat about the weather if you wish!

Final word

Top Of The League is definitely a football fan's game. If you've ever experienced the delights of standing in the rain without a brolly, and clutching a cup-a-soup, you'll get more enjoyment out of this than anyone. After all, football fans like realism, and if you want realism such as the half-time tannoy blaring out a tune while you sip your cup-a-soup and take a bit out of a hot-dog, then why not give it a try? It will almost certainly appeal to those who turn up week in week out at a lower division game that gets less coverage than Manchester City on Sky.