This is probably the best football management game ever. This will delight football fans everywhere. Plays like a dream - fast and smooth, yet fully detailed. Football IS Tracksuit Manager 2. Tracksuit Manager 2 is currently on my desk and I'm copying lots of quotes (unattributed, mind) off its box. And aren't they all a mite familiar? Sigh.
It was six months ago that I first set eyes on the box, when a bloke from Alternative visited our office and showed off Tracksuit Manager 2. Although I was forced to watch from a distance, while gazing longingly at the sandwiches, crisps, and orange juice which had appeared from nowhere (someone's idea of entertaining in style), what I did manage to catch a glimpse of looked mightily impressive. I was also impressed when told all the team stats would be updated before release.
Since then, Alternative have stopped talking to us, we've moved office and the game which did look mightily impressive, still does. As for the team stats, six months is a long time in football (and magazines, natch) and unfortunately "The latest season stats" claim made on the box doesn't ring true.
To criticise Tracksuit Manager 2 just because the stats haven't been updated would, however annoying it is, be a tad unfair.
Yet what I couldn't quite fathom was that two of Notts Country's more recent transfer dealings have been implemented in the game (Paul Devlin's transfer to Birmingham City and Chris Wilder's move from Rotherham United to Notts), yet David Robinson, a centre-half Notts bought from Peterborough (even though he had a history of extremely dodgy knees) three seasons ago, and who has sicne retired, appears in the Notts squad along the likes of Peter Reid (manager of Sunderland) and Steve Slawson (moved to Mansfield Town last year).
And while none of this makes interesting reading, when it's clear someone has only bothered to half-bake a stats update, why would you be expected to bother playing the wretched thing? Eh? EH? Especially when it's something an edit facility would have remedied.
Having spoken to Alternative (um, actually via Amiga Format) I learnt that data disk will be made available later in the season. When it's over, perhaps? Yes, that'd be good. And how about charging a tenner for the privilege? Heck. Why didn't I think of that? No, hang on.
Copying lots of quotes
Tracksuit Manager 2 is sponsored by Fizzy Chewits. Or, at least, the Fizzy Chewits logo appears regularly throughout the game. Granted that it is a largely irrelevant point but it did amuse me considerably. None moreso than when I clicked on the intriguing object on my TM2 desk and was treated to an advert for the sweets. Fantastic.
As for the game: in terms of a footy management sim, it isn't bad at all. I was slighly perturbed by the choice of five managerial characters which appeared, none of which provide any further indication to the qualities they can bring to the job - other than "conceited", for instance.
I sneakily opted for the "easy going" character wearing a tracksuit, in the belief that with it being Tracksuit Manager 2 I might be looked upon favourably. Small things, eh?
Once you've chosen your team and persona, you find yourself sitting behind a desk in a rather plush office. Should you forget your name, there is a name plaque on the desk, littered with other objects which, when clicked on, will transport you into a new area of the game. Apart from the mug of tea. Or coffee. Which is there merely for decorative purposes. Nice touch, Alternative.
Selecting eleven players for Notts Country was perhaps a little ambitious, considering the number of rejects, crocks and hopeless individuals I was permitted to choose from (Quite realistic then? Ed). What was more frustrating though, was the process by which you have to select your team. The screen which lists your first team squad, lists nothing else. You know, like the usual sort of stats.
For individual players' attributes you have to exit the first screen, view their merry figures, and then return to the original screen in order to select your eleven players. The tried and tested attributes are all in evidence - from an individual player's current seasonal stats to their ability to pass and fitness level. Which, incidentally, never seems to rise above seventy per cent. So much for the cliché about not risking Captain Marvel, or whomever, unless he's one hundred per cent fit.
Also, when selecting your substitutes, you have to choose two outfield players and one goalie. A clear case of someone not doing their homework properly. Or not doing it at all. Grr.
A SWOS plastic football
It was when I cam to strengthening my squad that I had most fun. With the option of purchasing players or taking them on loan, I thought "Hurrah! I'll entice Premiership players to the football Mecca of the Midlands (Meadow Lane) to play for Notts County ON LOAN!" Easy. Unfortunately, Collymore Sheringham and some other stuck-up ponce told me where to stick my loan deal. So, instead, I resorted to sending my scouts to watch them, in the hope that having a scout from a big club would make them nervous and they'd bottle it in one of their big Premiership ties. Heh-heh.
In the midst of the wealth of very impressive statistical and tactical data, the matches themselves are rather disappointing. Two blokes sit at a desk staring into a corner of the room. While the match continues behind them. (And if they are watching a monitor, Alternative, what was the point in paying for a Director's box for them to sit in, eh?)
Every second, bubbles come out their mouths and they say something Slightly more irritating is the fact that there is no indication as to the players positional whereabouts in relation to the opposition as displayed in Premier Manager 3, for example. There's just a small pitch which indicates the part of the field the ball is in. At least, I think it does.
At the end of the day, when push comes to shove, and when the fat lady bells out whatever is she sings, Tracksuit Manager 2 is nothing new. At least, nothing we haven't seen before. In fact I'd much prefer to kick a SWOS plastic football around the office, and it's only because that annoys Sue intensely that I sit down and dutifully play these footy manny games.
Yet none of this detracts from the fact that Tracksuit Manager 2 is okay and if you can pick it up, cheaply do so. As for Fizzy Chewits, I haven't seen them anywhere. Tch.