Successful football club in a bad game scandal

Liverpool logo

GRANDSLAM * £25.99 * 1/2 meg * Joystick * Out now

Arguably one of the most successful teams of all time have made it to your Amiga courtesy of Grandslam. Liverpool FC: The Computer Game stars all the Anfield blokes in a soccer game that Grandslam think will rival the success of Kick Off 2.

Actually, when you think about it, Grandslam is an interesting name when you consider that for the rest of this review I'll be slamming their rater poor effort.

The game loads to the accompaniment of a remix version of "You'll Never Walk Alone", the song that's become synonymous with Liverpool FC. Unfortunately, Grandslam have slaughtered the tune to a point where it's not particularly recognisable. While this is playing in the background, you're treated - or should that be subjected - to a brief(ish) history of the club, with little digitised pictures of all the current players underneath.

Liverpool fans should like this bit the first time they see it, but for the rest of the world at large, and for people who've already seen it, it's a shame you can't skip it.

After extensive intro pictures of FA Cups and suchlike, you eventually get to the main menu screen. From here you can choose whether to compete in an FA Cup competition or a full League Season, and you can choose a two-player FA Cup final.
You can also change your squad about, although of course you can only choose from Liverpool players.

When you've twiddled around with the options you can start a practice session or play a proper match. Practice is definitely recommended, since the control system takes a bit of getting used to.

The pitch is viewed from an angle not unlike Rage's Striker, with one player heading up and "into" the screen, and the other coming down and "out" of it. The player currently selected is marked by four pulsing arrows around his feet, and you can move him around with your joystick.

The fire button kicks the ball, although not as in KO2. There's no way to control how hard you'll hit the ball, the player just belts it as far as he can.
This means you'll find yourself running up the pitch with the ball at your feet (it's a sticky feet control method) and shooting, because stringing together several passes is completely impossible. It's a very awkward passing system - so impractical that you'll give up trying.

The computer teams are quite good, and you'll find that before long they've scored against you. When the ball crosses the line, the view instantly flicks back to the centre circle before you know what's happened, and it's a bit confusing to say the least.

The graphics look OK when the game is paused,. But as soon as you see it in action you'll reconsider. There are precious few frames of animation for the players and the game really looks a bit tacky.
The ball responds so completely unrealistically that you'll laugh... it shoots along at 200mph and then stops almost instantly. It's as if the pitch is covered in honey or something.

So what is there that's good about Liverpool FC: The Computer Game? Erm, it's endorsed by Liverpool FC, which will mean it's bound to sell a fair few no matter how bad it is. And the presentation screens look all right.

But that's about it, I'm afraid. From the moment you start playing and think "Think is all right" to the moment a few minutes later when you think "Blimey, this game's been bunged together ina few weeks to cash in on a good licence, when in fact it's complete tripe", it's all gradually downhill.

The simple fact is, that no matter who you support, you have to admit that Liverpool are quite a good team. And the other simple fact is that even if you support Liverpool, you'd have to have a bit of a mental disorder to fork out for this.

Liverpool logo

Grandslam * £25.99

So, at last, the greatest footy team in Britain has lent its name to a game. What a pity it doesn't reflect the quality of the real thing. The game shows a view from just above the pitch, facing one goal area, and the 3-D effect works rather well.

The control system is a little lame, though, making it rather difficult to control the ball on the first touch.

The players move about in a rather slippery fashion, which gives the game a Subbuteo feel, and when you do get the ball it's ludicrously easy to score. This is partly due to the fact that you can't see the goal until the ball has been kicked - making it impossible for the goalie to save it.

Don't get me wrong, this is far from the worst football game on the Amiga. It's got good, fast graphics, and a number of options including two-player and FA Cup. But it has bugs that interfere with the game and when it comes to gameplay, it faces the competition like Kick Off and, unfortunately, it isn't in the same league.

Knapp vorbei ist auch daneben...

Liverpool logo

Die Stadt, in der sich schon die Beatles warmgespielt haben, beherbergt bekanntlich auch einen Fußballclub. Was immer man von dem Team halten mag - so dürftig wie hier kicken die Jungs nun wirklich nicht!

Das Optionsangebot sieht ja noch ganz passabel aus: Es gibt drei verschiedene Platztypen, die Matchdauer läßt sich zwischen 10, 20, 30, 60 und harten 90 Echtzeit-Minuten variieren, eine Trainingsmodus ist mit von der Partie, und für die Mannschaftsaufstellung stehen 20 Digi-Portraits zur Verfügung.

Wer sich nicht gleich die volle Saison in der ersten englischen Liga antun will, kann wahlweise auch am "FA Cup" teilnehmen oder gegen einen zweiten Mitspieler bolzen; da wie dort sind angeschnittene Bälle, Elfmeter und Freistöße ebenso an der Tagesordnung wie gelbe und rote Karten.

Gezeigt werden die Begegnungen à la "Striker" aus einer 3D-Perspektive von schräg oben, wobei die Kamera quasi "in die Tiefe des Raumes hineinfahrt". Das flüssige Scrolling und die Farbschattierungen erleichtern die Orientierung auf dem Platz, ein kleiner "Radarschirm" sorgt zusätzlich für Übersicht. Tribünen und das Publikum fehlen leider ganz, zudem erinnern die Kicker durch ihre kantige, wenn auch flotte Animationen eher an eine American Football-Truppe.

Die Geräuschkulisse ist ungewöhnlich mager, aber so richtig verleidet wird einem die Angelegenheit erst durch die ungenaue Steuerung: Ständig läuft man am Ball vorbei oder sogar drumherum, ohne Fußkontakt aufzunehmen. Spielt man dann nach dem Seitenwechsel von oben nach unten, artet das Laufen, Passen und Schießen endgültig zu einer Mischung aus Blindflug und Glücksspiel aus.

Endstand: Mal wieder ein berühmter Name und wenig dahinter... (pb)

Liverpool logo

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...

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 did not pop along in time to be able to save me from Liverpool, and I have 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 is really good. (Strike One! - Ed).
Hey, what is pink, fluffy and... (Strike Two! One more and you're history! - Ed).

Oh god, it is no use. I cannot 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 has been wonderful knowing you all, that I love each and every single one of you personally, that I have 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 is this meandering accidentally into the office? Well blow me down if it isn't my old pal Graeme Souness...

The radar is as impractical as ever

(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 is 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.'

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).

Very pretty... lots of potential

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-man 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 10 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.'

(Sound of sickening accidental clash of heads, sound of Graeme leaving office by kicking new doorway through wall, sound of AP 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).

Liverpool logo

Marc D. Richards kicks off with yet another bout of soccer action, this time from Grandslam...

This is it, footy fans, the official Liverpool soccer sim, featuring all the members of the present team. This is your chance to guide your favourite footy team (well, if you're a Liverpudlian) up the league tables as you play in both the FA Cup and League Championships.

There are plenty of options to choose from. You can practise on a dry, medium or wet pitch; add aftertouch to the ball; and choose which way up the field you wish to play. The section that will appeal to Liverpool fans the most, though, is the team selection routine. Here, you are faced with twenty mugshots of the various team players, and you can even decide who you want in your team, and who to keep on the subs bench. You can even access an info page on each of the players' histories - although true fans will already most of this. Following this, you are ready to position your freshly picked team on the pitch, in one of three formations. You will now be required to either enter the FA Cup or the League Championships.

Games are played vertically up the pitch, and are viewed using a weird 3D angle similar to that of Rage's Striker. As usual, you re given control over the player nearest the ball, and you'll have no problems locating your player, as he's indicated by four huge arrows at his feet.

However, this is where the game starts to deteriorate. The player animation is basic and jerky and the speed is a little on the slow side. And as for the referee! He has to be the strictest official ever to grace the world of Soccer! If you attempt even the cleanest and fairest of tackles, he'll be onto you quicker than a sniffer dog in a cocaine field, with his deck of yellow and red cards.

What this basically means is, unless you want to risk being sent off, once the opposition has got control of the ball, it'll all be down to the computer-controlled Bruce Grobbelaar to save your team from going yet another one down!

If you're looking for a Soccer sim at the moment, Sensible Soccer is the only game for you. So, if you want accurate passing, blistering action and excellent controls, save your wad for Renegade's classic. To be fair, though, although not a complete disaster, Liverpool: The Computer Game is only recommended to real Liverpool fans and die-hard soccer sim addicts who need yet another fix.