If it's not the World Cup it's the football season that brings out a spate of football games! They never stop coming! As usual the first battle is with the option screens, where you choose to play a single game, league championship, cup tournament, international friendly or practice. You can then change the in-game options: duration of game, type of pitch, skill level and wind.
Each player has a mixture of four attributes and skills: pace, stamina, aggression and resilience. The mixture of these four determines the performance of each team member on the pitch, but if you aren't happy with one particular player, two substitutions per game are allowed. Whichever team wins the toss chooses to play either up or down the pitch - viewed from above with the now familiar 'head with arms ' players. The character under control is highlighted, though the other members of your team are semi-intelligent and follow you around the pitch. As in the original Kick Off, fouls, throw-ins and corners are included, and on the disk version an action replay option allows you to see your goals in all their slow motion glory (provided you score of course).
If the score is drawn at the end of the second half and the extra time option is enabled, you play on. And if the score is still undecided after all that, a sudden death penalty shoot-out is played. I wasn't impressed with the original Kick Off and I must admit this sequel does little to fire my interest in soccer games. The worst culprits are the character sprites: it's sun shades ahoy time because the two teams violently clash as they meet (and I don't mean a punch up). The character you control seems to have a mind of his own - I very often found I had little say in sprite control.
'Kick Off on the Spectrum was not exactly a resounding success and Kick Off 2 looks set to follow in big brother's footsteps. The game has all the options of the original 16-bit version, the only thing that makes the games differ are the graphics and speed. The tiny players, viewed from above, skuttle around the pitch attempting to kick the ball. Their colours clash whenever they meet, making a screen shot from the game look more like an abstract piece of modern art (don't be fooled by the beautiful Amiga screenshots on the packaging!). What really annoys me about Kick Off 2 is the control options. I wanted to play a two player game with one player on joystick and one on keys. You just can't do it. Both players have to cram their fingers onto the keyboard! Kick Off 2 is no real improvement over the first game.'