GET YOUR OWN BACK ON ENGLAND'S INTERNATIONAL TEAM
'Koeman sends a beautiful long ball over to Gullit, who weaves and turns straight past Gary Stevens. He sends a beautiful chip into the box. Oh no, the defence has failed to clear, Marco Van Bastes takes possession and... he's scored his hat-trick-surely England are out of this championship now!'
You were undoubtedly as peeved at England's performance in the European Championship as we all were at CRASH Towers (Mark Caswell excepted cos he keeps falling over his own feet and can't see the point of football). But Doug Matthews (he also did The Double) reckons you deserve to have money for a mouth and prove your TV punditry (surely that should be 'banditry'-ED) by building your own national squad to take on the best in Europe (and the rest of the world) in Goliath's new football management game, Tracksuit Manager.You can choose to manage any European national squad of 22 players. New players can be drafted into the squad from a pool of 100. The finals of the Nations Cup (European Championship) are two years away (with the World Cup finals in four years time), but first your team must qualify by winning their group which contains three other nations. Friendlies can be arranged to allow experimentation with the team or you can go on a tour consisting of five matches.
Tactics and options are menudriven. The main menu is for changing the squad, arranging fixtures (through the diary option) sending scouts to spy on the performance of other teams and their individual players.
Before a match, you select your team of 11 players from the squad and a report on each player's current form and skill is available. After team selection, a choice of tactics can be made including attacking style, marking, formation, and various types of tackling and passing. Individual players can also be given special orders contradicting those of the team and can also be told to take corners, free-kicks etc.
During the match a scrolling text commentary (which can be speeded up or slowed down) is shown in the top half of the screen, while the position of the ball is represented below by a red bar on a green pitch. Substitutions can be made at any time and also allow the Can you stand the pressure of life in the football league? changing of tactics. Players can be injured, and, if they're naughty, booked or even sent off.
There's enormous wealth of football data in this program, so I expressed no surprise at the game's bland presentation, although it's neatly laid out. Sound is nonexistent and match graphics are minimal. Text predominates of course, so it's annoying how slow it can be updating at times. On the other hand, it's the football strategy that matters, and Tracksuit Manager certainly scores no home goals there.
PAUL … 76%
THE ESSENTIALS Joysticks: keyboard only Graphics: minimalistic, to say the least, but not that important in this type of game Sound: there is absolutely none Options: choice of managing any European national squad
'clumsy feet' Caswell here, and all I have to say is that some people may be willing to sit through reams and reams of text from yet another football management game, but I'm not. Tracksuit Manager bored me stiff within a very short time indeed. I've come to the conclusion that only true footballing fans could possibly enjoy scanning the eye-boggling amount of text that assails the player's optic nerves. The actual matches are the biggest bore; described in great detail, they sent me to sleep after reading that Hoddle was about to shoot for goal third time in a row. I'll stick to saving the universe from the alien hordes, thankyouverymuch.'
'The range of menus and options is impressive - especially the choice of tactics for both the team and individual players. It really allows for complex strategy and gives the sort of comprehensive control over the team that other games of the genre lack. What lets the game down is its boring match presentation - the commentator quite obviously suffers from verbal diarrhoea. By the end of a match you feel as if you've just read War And Peace. The pitch graphic is small and simple - a red bar shows the position of the ball and that's it! What a shame the excellent tactical options couldn't have been accompanied by some decent graphics to help create an atmosphere. Long-winded, it's best played in short bursts, but considering its detailed options, Tracksuit Manager will definitely appeal to football mangagement buffs.'