Amiga Power1st August 1992
Published in Amiga Power #16
Just when you thought it was all over, Grandslam releases its footy game. Liverpool and Graeme Souness, eh? How can you go wrong? How indeed...
Liverpool: The Computer Game
Boy, was I glad to see Adam Peters joining the reviewing team this month - finally, someone else working for Amiga Power who likes football. Sadly, Adam didn't pop along in time to be able to save me from Liverpool, and I've completely run out of things to say about football. [And with 900 words still to go, too - Ed] Oh no.
Has anyone ever seen Federico Fellini's classic writer's block film Eight And A Half? Um, it's really good. [Strike one! - Ed]
Hey, what's pink, fluffy and... [Strike Two! One more and you're history! - Ed]
Oh God, it's no use, I can't do it (sob). I suppose that's it, then - bye-bye fabulous job, hello P45 City. In closing, I'd just like to say that it's been wonderful knowing you all, that I love each and every single one of you personally, that I've especially adored all those lovely letters explaining that I don't like Kick Off 2 therefore I am beyond any doubt the product of an illicit union between Adolf Hitler and a horse, and that learning that every Amiga Power reader in the country apparently thinks my favourite band in the world is Earth, Wind And Fire (ref the prophetically-titled "You're Fired!" compo, issue 14) has brought a joy to my life unlike anything else since I first saw Beatrice Dalle in Betty Blue, I'd like to say all that, but unfortunately etc etc. Farewell everyone. And now, the end is near, and now I face - hang on, who's this meandering accidentally into the office? Well, blow me down if it isn't my old pal Graeme Souness...
The Prince Of Darkness Returns
(Sound of office door being brutally kicked in and shattering into a million little splinters of wood. Voice of Ian St John saying "Well, no, you have to say that was a 50-50 situation, the door could have either been opened or closed and Graeme really had no option other than to go for it full-bloodedly. Hard but fair, that's his style - I think the door's making a bit of a meal of the tackle, actually. Wibble wibble teapot wibble." Voice of Mark Ramshaw saying "Are you still here?") Hi Graeme, how are you?
"I'm not too chuffed, Stu. My previous experiences in the computer game industry have left a lot to be desired, but I'd hoped that this Liverpool game licence would be different. After all, it was programmed by my old pals at Arc Developments, who wrote my favourite Amiga shoot-'em-up ever, R-Type II, and when I saw some early previews it looked as if it might be a bit of a winner. Pretty graphics (even down to that funny shoulder-pad-like white chevron effect on the strips), very zippy movement, lots of potential for some top 3D second-person-perspective action in the style of the great Super NES game Super Soccer. After Rage's Striker came out in the same area without really setting anything on fire, I thought the way was clear for our game to blaze a trail to the top like in the glory days of Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley. Imagine my relative disappointment, then, when it turned out to be a pretty reasonable knockaround, sparse but sweet in the visual department, that played like a cross between Striker, John Barnes European Football and Kick Off 2, but sadly included all the flaws of those as well as their good points.
Using Kick And Run Tactics
Just what do you mean exactly, oh mighty satanic beast of the dug-out?
"Well, it's got all Striker's speed and most of its slick silky smoothness, but it's extremely minimalist in the depth department. You can only play Liverpool, obviously enough, which takes away Striker's potential for using worse and worse teams as your skill increased to keep the level of challenge up (as well as being a bit of a bummer for fans of Everton, Scunthorpe, Rangers, Ujpest Dosza or Young Boys Of Berne). Like Striker, you only get one league and one cup competition to play (plus a two-player 'FA Cup Final' option), and after you've won both of those there's not much compulsion to keep playing. As for the Barnesy connection, Liverpool has a similarly huge pitch with a correspondingly small area of it on display at any particular moment (indeed, it's so shallow that the ball frequently disappears off the top of the screen altogether when it's played in the air), which puts the mockers on the potential for any great Sensible Soccer-style sweeping passing movements, since the radar is as impractical as ever. (There is a Sensible-esque pass-to-the-nearest-main system, but it's awkward to use and doesn't seem to work very well most of the time, possibly because the tiny screen makes it difficult to see which direction you should roughly aim in to reach a player who's in range of the attempted pass.)
Kick Off 2-wise, although the ball does stick to your feet it shows a bit of reluctance to get there in the first place, and the game still tends to play like a belt-it-up-the-park-and-hope-there's-somebody-there type of affair, due largely to the fact that the defending team always catch up to the man with the ball inside a couple of seconds if he tries a clever mazey run. Actually, come to think of it, if anyone out there remembers Elite's World Championship Soccer from a couple of years ago, the feel is very similar to that. And finally, while I'm in a negative mood, not being able to play a game shorter than ten minutes and having an arcade football game these days with no action replay facility whatsoever is a bit cheap.
All the same, to be fair, Liverpool: The Computer Game is still pretty good fun to play. Like Striker, it's very easy to get into quickly, and it's nice to watch the players racing up and down the excellently-rendered 3D pitch (of which you get three types, incidentally, with the wet pitch really feeling like a strength-sapping slog to play on and the dry one causing the ball to fly around wildly) at high speed, knocking the ball around impressively. (Mind you, the ball's movement does defy the laws of physics somewhat, especially following tackles, with disturbing frequency.) At the end of the day, though, I have to harp back to That Other Football Game - it has, if you'll pardon the expression, moved the goalposts for computer football, and that leaves Liverpool's shot screaming over the crossbar, over the stand roof, and right out of the ground altogether. Oh, and by the way, stitch that, Jimmy."
(Sounds of sickening accidental clash of heads, sounds of Graeme leaving office by kicking new doorway through wall, sound of Amiga Power reviews editor bleeding on the floor). So... ouch... there you have it, fans. A decent effort, and one where just a bit more of the screen being used could have made all the difference, but when you get down to the brass tacks, just another entry for the division two play-offs rather than a league champion. I feel as sick as a... (dies).
The Bottom Line
Uppers: It's very fast and easy to get to grips with, which makes for instant playability. Nice-looking too, if you can forgive the polygon curves (which I can). The computer teams can play quite a sophisticated game at times, and being able to load directly from the second disk (skipping the intro with its deeply wibbly rendition of "You'll Never Walk Alone") is highly commendable.
Downers: Same only-a-tiny-bit-of-the-pitch-on-screen-at-any-time problems as John Barnes European Football, and the same lack-of-depth problems as Striker.
Better than Striker in some respects, but clearly inferior in some other ones, Liverpool: The Computer Game has a lot of nice ideas which just don't really hang together properly. Yet again, Sensible Soccer makes the competition look years behind.