FOLLOWING THE SUCCESS OF THEIR PREVIOUS MAN UNITED GAME, KRISALIS NOW TAKE THE TEAM TO EUROPE FOR A SUPER CHALLENGE. 'OH, I'LL JUST PACK MY BAGS AND SEE IT IN ITALY, THEN,' SAYS A DELUDED MARK CASWELL. OH NO YOU DON'T, MATEY (COME BACK 'ERE!)...
I knew they had to appear soon. Tons of footy games have finally descended upon us. The only problem is how to review this one - we've seen so many football games now I'm tempted to say 'Look, its just like the other games: kick the ball up and down the pitch and score goals.'
But I don't want to be sacked and so here's a rundown of the game's features (ie, the twiddly bits you mess around with before you kick the ball).
EUROPE, 1992 AND ALL THAT
As 1992 is almost upon us, it's very cosmopolitan; it first asks you to pick a language, English, French, German, Italian or Spanish. Having shown off to your mates by picking a foreign language, choose a league from UEFA Cup, European Cup and Cup Winners' Cup.
Up pops the neat options screens! It's ten icons allow you to tweak certain aspects of the game or view the league tables. You can change the formation and position of your players, set the match length, change the manager or team name, view the stats for your or your next opponents' team and, most importantly, choose whether you want to play the match or Just watch a printout of the final score.
So, the match. Is it any cop? Not really. Whereas the option screens are very well planned and executed, the matchplay is poor. Viewed from above, the sprites are poorly defined and lack speed. Add to that the horrible player colours (red and yellow), which clash with the green of the pitch, and it's a strain on the eyes.
Control is sluggish - many times I swore at a player because he was crippling along like a snail. But we've one thing to be thankful for: a league system has been included so you can challenge a mate to see who can battle through the most matches and hold the coveted cup at the end of the game.
Sadly, the well executed option screens don't make up for the lack of a decent arcade football section.
MARK … 50%
'This footy sim looks great, with plenty of options and smart presentation graphics. Everything goes well until the managing bit is over and you play a match. This is where the game not only trips up but falls flat on its face and gets run over by a juggernaut. The players appear as blobs of colour, the control method's awkward... it's all very strange that the match is so poor when the rest of the features are well presented. The difficulty of matches is a bit weird: Man United, supposedly one of the best British teams, is often beaten by an unknown team from Luxembourg. Manchester United Europe could have been great but sadly it bites the dust due to the awful match.'
WILLL ... 50%
The shed football lies forlorn and forgotten in a corner, collecting dust and spiders. We just don't use it anymore. Last summer it was a very different story of course (we were tackling and dribbling all over the shop) but since then we've kind of lost the bug. Now Andy's got his horseriding, James has taken up jogging (!), and I, erm, well, I don't do anything. So when Man Utd Europe came along it was generally thought that I could do with a bit of exercise. So it looks like the ball's in my half (so to speak).
Let's get busy!
MUE (as I call it) is the follow-up to, erm, Manchester United (actually). If you bought that game you might have filled in a report card telling Krisalis what you liked about it and how they could make it better. Well, they read these reply cards very carefully, took note of all the remarks, and came up with what seems remarkably like the same game (except it's got the word 'Europe' stuck on the end).
Like its predecessor, MUE is a combination of management game and arcade action. In the first, you get to do all the run-of-the-mill things that make managers such busy (and highly paid) chaps, like sort out when's the best time for your team to go and stand in a muddy field and get their shins kicked. Or you can tell your men the right way to tackle and then get them all to do 50 press-ups! To do this you need to click on the various icon boxes that decorate the option screen. This is okay, but it's a bit sluggish when you're switching from one to the other, and personally I prefer the desktop approach of European Superleague, where you get to make your choices by picking up the phone and chatting to people.
Time for a quick kick about
In contrast, the matches are pretty fast paced and furious! They look like any other arcade footie game - you get an oblique view of a four-way scrolling pitch populated by blobby characters with beachballs under their shirt (well, that's what it looks like to me!) and that football sim way of running (ie, sort of inhumanly). There's all the usual moves, fouls, cautions, penalties and substitutions.
In fact, everything's as you'd expect. The thing with footie games is you cant really design one that's massively different from all the others. And, to be fair, that's not what people want. MUE is a good, solid, honest footie game (and that's a compliment). The original was incredibly successful and, if any of the people who scribbled out their forms want to find out if Krisalis have listened to their advice, this will be too.
It's a funny old game, football. Recently there have been trillions of soccer games released on the Speccy. Does this mean that the winter will see dozens of cricket games? Oh well, at least MUFCE offers a great deal more than most of the latest slew of footie games.
Manchester United are one of those teams you either love or hate, and everybody still sympathises with them because of the plane crash many years ago (1958 to be exact) that wiped out most of the team, plus the manager Matt Busby. But does that mean that the game will be all it's cracked up to be?
Most soccer games currently appearing on the Speccy tend to be bogged down in reams of statistics, with transfer tables, training, fixtures, ad infinitum and ad nauseum. Man United Europe avoids all this by concentrating on the main event - the games themselves. Easily-manipulated menus guide the player through the options available, but still give the opportunity of getting straight into the action.
There are four major competitions in this game - the UEFA Cup, the Cup Winners' Cup, the European Cup, and the Super Cup (the winners of the Cup Winners Cup and the European Cup) The quality of the opposition varies tremendously, from two left-footed Albanian league sides to the sexy Italian and French teams (well, maybe not sexy, but you know what I mean).
The action scrolls from left to right, and back again once you've managed to get the ball from the opposition. The teams are represented by coloured sprites. Actually, sprites is a bit generous as they are little more than blobs of colour, but with this sort of game it's the playability that counts (I agree, Brian). There's another blob for the referee, but he only tends to appear for the kick off and special events such as corners and goal kicks.
The length of each match can be altered to suit your taste, and of course it's a game of two halves (and whichever team scores the most goals wins, Brian). The action is fluid and exciting although the other team (when playing solo) seem to have an unerring knack of never conceding vital points. The sound is spartan to say the least, with the whistle being one of the few effects - with the obvious exception of the sound of the ball being booted around the pitch. Oddly enough, the same sound is used for throw-ins!
Other options available for the budding Man U manager include changing players' positions and improving statistics. Still, it's the ability to wibble that joystick that counts in the end, as otherwise the other team gets in the goals. The matches are played over two legs (those of a dead team-mate, ho-ho), so disaster in one match isn't necessarily the end of the world.
MUFCU is lots of fun to play, especially with a human opponent (or your sister). Although the graphics aren't particularly interesting to look at, they usually manage to convey all the relevant info at a glance. The gameplay's good and that's what really counts in any game. As Krisalis have managed (pun intended) to avoid bogging down the game with reams of statistics, it plays smoothly. My only real gripe is that it's a little too easy, but as there's so much to do in Man United Europe, you won't exhaust its potential quickly.
More good sporty stuff from Krisalis to complement their excellent Jengir Khan Squash.
Let's hope they'll be producing some more games for the Speccy soon!
Price: £11.99 Tape, N/A Disk
Reviewer: Matt Regan
GARTH: The original Manchester United was actually quite good and with the release of the European version, Krisalis have made a good game even better.
ANDREA: My boyfriend plays football and even though I don't mind whether I watch it or not, I still enjoy seeing players in their shorts. I even enjoyed Man Utd, Europe.
All information in this page is provided by ZXSR instead of ZXDB