Striker logo

Like Ryan Griggs or Steve McManaman, Striker's set to take soccer by storm late in the season. An unknown a few months ago, it's now carving up the established opposition with ease.

Classic footie sims, and Striker is a classic, are games for masochists. The stress of high-speed waggling soon causes a dull throb in your entire forearm, but this is a worthy trade-off for the soccer spectacle you control on screen. Striker supplies this spectacle via a realistic end-to-end isometric perspective, peerless player intelligence and addictive playability. It looks like the real thing, plays like the real thing and hurts like Kick Off!

Striker's control system is simple but precise. Trapping, pace and ball control are dictated by each team's skill level, leaving you free to concentrate on passing, tackling and some excellently understated aftertouch. Laying the ball on requires only joystick direction and a stab of the fire-button, while slide tackles are initiated with two swift taps. Shots on goal, though, call for Mr Aftertouch, who is summoned by holding the fire-button down while you desperately lean on the stick in a bid to curve the ball away from the keeper.

Although sparse, these controls allow you time to scan the radar and spot team mates who've run into space. Solo runs at goal can work, but they are usually snuffed out by the extremely able keepers. The best opportunities are created by team moves, where crosses in and around the box pull defences to one side before switching in the opposite direction.

Sick as a moon
Screaming runs down the wings must be accompanied by sudden braking while you wait for support to arrive in the middle. For the first time, disk-based footie captures these essential team mechanics from the real game. And Striker hammers this gameplay opportunity home with cracking player intelligence - at least in the better squads.

Rage's opinion of who's hot and who's not affects every aspect of Striker. The 64 available teams have all been seeded and given talents, largely based on the performance in the 1990 World Cup. The German team possess the best ball control, shots, team intelligence and speed, Qatar roll in as the least skillful squad and can barely run 10 yards without losing the ball.

Playing solo against the computer, in either friendly or tournament mode, and your tactics are dictated by the other team's strength. Play against a friend and these factors still count, because while you control one player, goal chances are usually made by computer controlled bods running off the ball.

Striker is perfect on the pitch, but it's not exactly awash with options, and some of those that are here don't make the grade. Selecting a different formation during a game is nigh on impossible, and you can't customise teams or save your moments of brilliance to disk.

These things though are the trimmings. This is football at its best, with gaspworthy goalmouth drama and swearworthy opposition.

Striker logo

New boys Rage promise top 3D football thrills in their first offering - and deliver. Now only if it was't for pesky old Sensible...

Can we get someone else onto the magazine team who likes football soon - please? I mean, I love the game and everything, and footy games on computer are always good fun (except when they're Gazza's Super Soccer), it's just that I'm starting to hear whistles in my sleep and I can't stop dreaming about Jimmy Graeves (but then, who can?), and I've even started walking down the street in 4-3-3 formation. But I guess I can survive for one more game, so let's take a look at they one they're all calling 'That funny 3D-ish one by the guys who did Midnight Resistance.

Striker uses the previously unseen (on the Amiga) second-person perspective viewpoint, which means the action is viewed from one end of the pitch and from a position just behind and above the current location of the ball.

As usual you control what the computer deems to be the player nearest the ball and control itself is as simple as it comes, just left, right, up, down and fire to kick, with the same directions giving you a bit of aftertouch for those impressive swerving shots.

Immediate playability, then, is an area where Striker scores big points straight away. Forget the manual, just pick up the stick, click on a couple of menu options and you're right in the middle of the action, pulling off overhead kicks and dramatic diving headers with the best of 'em. Less happily, if you do read the manual and study the available options and attempt to take things a little more seriously, you find that, er, there isn't actually very much more to it.

And that's the big problem with Striker - there's not an awful lot to it. Rage themselves said (in our Footy Games Preview Special last month) that Sensible Soccer was the game they were going to have to compete with, and while Striker is pretty good fun by itself, when you put it up against the Sensible title it begins to look like a pretty poor second-best. Sorry about this, Rage, but you kind of asked for it...

The big problem is there's not a lot to it

Ranged against Sensible's multitude of demestic and international competitions, leagues and customisable tournaments for up to, er, lots of players, Striker lets you play either a single friendly game (one or two players) or in pre-set knock-out tournament (seven rounds) for one player only, and that's all.

Where Sensible lets you choose from dozens of teams, each with individually-named and accurately-rendered players, alter their formations at will even in the middle of a game, make substitutions, completely redesign their strips or even change the players' names, Striker gives you 11 anonymous, identical players and a choice of formations, and that's all.

Sensible has a whole disk full of sampled crowd sounds which react intelligently to the play, Striker has the occasional almost-inaudible beep when the ball is kicked and a bit of cheer when a goal goes in, and that's all. While Sensible is pixel-perfect in its accuracy despite the tiny graphics, Striker's collision detection is so inaccurate it can make the game a real pain to play at times.

The ball can fly around almost of its own free will, and players who (painstaking examination of the slow-motion action replay will reveal) didn't come within three feet of it, can still nevertheless send it rocketing unpredictably across the pitch or into the net without any apparent player influence being exerted.

And, most annoyingly of all, while Sensible's teams behave in ways identifiably similar to the real-life ones on which they're based (as far as general skill levels go, anyway), if you play anything closer in Striker than, say, Germany versus Trinidad And Tobago (with you as Germany, of course), the computer teams are irritatingly talented, in such a way as to make the game incredibly stop-start (you get the ball, run along a bit, one of the opposition players races up from behind and chops you down before you can work out what's going on, you take the free kick and the whole thing starts again).

Repeatedly, in a second-round tournament match, my supposedly world-class German players were easily outpaced by cloggers from the 62nd -seeded (out of 64) Venezuelans, which is plainly silly as well as frustrating.

And so it goes on. While Striker is a neat little kick-about, Sensible Soccer is pretty much a total football experience, and putting the two head-to-head is like matching Brazil up with the Faroe Islands under- 16 squad - extremely one-sided.

Scores big points straight away

But anyway, for those of you who haven't been put off completely and are still reading (and I hope that's most of you, because this isn't nearly as bad a game as a direct comparison with Sensible makes it look, and it'd be a bit of a shame if it was overshadowed by it totally), what else is there to know about Striker?

Well, as I've said, the main problem is that there isn't a lot. There are still, though, many things to admire in this game. For a start, you can tailor the way players behave with the ball, choosing whether to have it sticking to their feet or flying around all over the place in Kick Off 2 style (there are five different 'stickiness' settings to chose from).

You get different types of weather and wind conditions, and free kicks are executed with a neat 'line-of-flight' indicator, although the ball doesn't always seem to follow it very closely, and you can choose whether tied games will be settle by replays, extra time or penalty shoot-outs.

The animated electronic scoreboard is neat, too, and the toughness of most of the computer teams (although that's negated a bit by a recurrence of the old 'one-weakness-goalkeepers' syndrome) means that at least this won't be a game you beat in a couple of days then never play again (like, say, John Barnes European Football), and the enormous playability means that as a two-player game it'll give you endless entertainment.

Striker is good fun, basically, and if we'd reviewing it a month or two earlier it would have had a much easier ride - without Sensible Soccer's appearance on the scene, this would have been, with the possible exception of Manchester United Europe, the best Amiga footy effort available.
However, when it all comes down to it, there's only going to be one Amiga football title this year, and it's not this one.

One of Striker's best features is the replay mode. It works rather like a video recorder. In that you can play a goal or other piece of top footballing action forwards or backwards, at normal, fast or slow speeds, pause it, advance it or rewind it by a single frame. It's great fun just mucking around, in fact. Let's take advantage of it right now, and watch a bit of action from a tense England/Venezuela tussle...
The Venezuelans try a long hopeful cross-pitch punt from the halfway line. Surely tey won't catch the English defence out with tactics like that, Brian...
...but the midfield were having a little sneeze, and the Venezuelan winger has found an overlap! He's speeding towards the penalty area and he's got a lot of space in front of him, Jimmy...
Look, he's cut in towards the box and I think he's going to let one fly! He hits it, it scorches goalwards, but can Woods get his hands to it? We're not sure...
What a save! The English keeper parries the ball wonderfuly, but the defence run in the wrong direction, the South American striker picks up the loose ball, and Wood's can't get back up in time...
...and it's a GOALLL! Oh no, this is a disaster for the England side! They'll have it all to do in the second half at this rate, Brian. Unless the boys can somehow find their second wind, this'll be a sad, sad day for English football...

Striker logo CU Amiga Superstar

Could this be the new Football King? Steve Merrett goes for a kickabout with Liverpudlian newcomers, Rage, and meets their new Striker...

Let's face it, going against Kick Off II is an unenviable task, but at last someone has come up with a decent rival. Many reasons have been given as to why Anco's classic is so successful, but it all boils down to its pure playability. There's no way Kick Off II can be classified as a 'proper' simulation of the sport, as the players are minute in relation to the pitch and move at such a blistering pace that they'd leave the likes of Linker and ol' Stanley Matthews at a stand-still - in addition, when was the last time you saw someone score from the centre spot twice in a match?

However, at the end of the day it's addictivity that counts - not goals - and Anco's game has stacks. However, written by ex-Special FX coders under the Liverpudlian development team's new stand-alone label, Rage offer an alternative to the perennial favourite.

On loading and the unveiling of Striker's options, I felt a distinct sense of deja-vu. Set against a backdrop of digitises players, the game allows the player to alter everything from the weather conditions - including a rather silly 'gale' option which sends the ball into orbit every time it's kicked - to options for a penalty shoot-out or extra time to resolve a draw.

In addition, it is also from these menus where the game's difficulty level is selected. On selecting an International match , a screen appears offering control over virtually any international side known to man. As well as old favourites, such as Brazil and Italy, smaller, lesser-known squads - including Chile and the Arab Emirates - can also be selected. The reason for such a variety of teams is that each varies in their capabilities. Whilst Brazil are experts at ball control and play a mean offensive game, the Italians are more aggressive and tend to prefer long passing moves - conversely, Malta are pretty useless in all departments. Thus, by taking control of Brazil, you're in for a fairly easy route to the Striker Cup, whereas captaining Malta or Chile will prove much more of a challenge.

In addition, although these features may sound vague and cosmetic, the variations between sides are startlingly apparent during play, and Brazil are incredible to watch as they whiz down the wing, whilst the Germans are equally dominant in the penalty area.

Comparisons to the Anco game are inevitable. As Rage's players race on to the pitch and assume their formations, it's easy to dismiss Striker as yet another wannabe. But then the screen tilts, and everything starts to change. As the screen pans towards the centre circle for the kick off, the player nearest the ball automatically falls under your control and this is indicated by a smaller marker beneath his feet. From here, as the ball is passed around, the computer automatically switches control and the market to the next nearest player.

OK, so this doesn't sound particularly exciting, but it's the way the screen follows the action that's so amazing. When both Red Rat and Simulmondo attempted to utilise a scrolling 3D play area in International Soccer Challenge and I Play respectively, the results were slow and confusing games with very little sense of perspective or pace. Conversely, Striker is probably the closest anyone has come to creating a realistic soccer simulation which plays as fluidly and as well as Anco's classic - and most of its success can be put down to this new system.

This may indeed sound like high praise, but rather than trying to emulate everything that made Kick Off so good as, say, Sensible have, Rage have obviously taken a good hard look at the Anco game and decided how they can expand, and, maybe, even improve, on it.

The aforementioned 3D slant is a brave decision and by pulling this off, the Liverpudlian newcomers have already distances themselves from the other league contenders.
However, rather than relying on just this, the gameplay and many moves available to the player are equally well thought out and implemented. There's no way that Kick Off II can be classed as the perfect game - and I'm by no means knocking it - but because the whole package hangs together well, we tend to ignore any small bugs or quirks. However, how many times have you attempted to tackle a player only to have your player miss and consequently lie on the floor for vital seconds as the opposition runs rings around them - or run across his legs and earn themselves a penalty?

Rage combats this, and although they can still lunge with the best of 'em, it's only when ou want them to and they get up again straight after.

This may all sound a little fawning and anti-Kick Off, but it's not supposed to be. It's just that it isn't very often that someone actually tries something different, and when they do it deserves credit. Ocean did it with The Addams Family, and, considering the limitations imposed by the sport itself, Rage's Footy sim is all the more impressive.

Equally good are all the free kicks, defensive walls and corners we have come to expect. Whenever a player is sent sprawling on the outskirts of the penalty box, the referee will signal a foul and the oppos will line up to form a defensive wall between you and the goal. Your team member nearest the ball will then line up for the kick, with a dotted line detailing the line the ball will take when kicked. However, this line can be lengthened and shortened to determine the height of the shot, and it can also be moved from side to side. When satisfied with your set-up, simply hold down the fire-button to restart play. This simple system is very effective and controllable, and the same dotted line system is used for the likes of corners and thrown-ins.

Because Striker races along so smoothly and so quickly, it's easy to take its features for granted. For instance, after several minutes of playing and getting to grips with the fairly instinctive control method, you'll be racing up the wing and bending in crosses that Gazza would cry for. In addition, such is the flexibility of the players in your squad that it's odds-on that they'll be there ready to hit it on the volley or meet it with a diving header.

One advantage of the game's large sprites is that coupled with the neat scrolling system, they create a more realistic 'feel', and it's simply incredible to lob a short cross over to a midfield player, only t regain control in time to nod it past the 'keeper.

Kick Off featured some classic goals, but some of the ones possible within Rage's game knock it into a cocked hat. Strangely, though, Striker has opted for a mixture of Kick Off's dribbling system and the 'velcro boot' system, and this is bound to throw a few Anco veterans at first. It's not a bad system by any length, but it does take some getting used to and can prove rather too random when it comes to going in for tackles. That said, though, as Striker is more of a passing and attacking game than Kick Off this is only a small detraction.

So, the all-important question is: does Striker topple Kick Off II from its long-held seat at the top of the league. To be honest, no. However, what it does offer is a game up to, and in some areas surpassing, Kick Off's very high standard. Striker plays extremely well, and offers all the moves we have come to expect but within an excellent 3D play area.

The players are extremely responsive, and perform their many kicks and passes with style and ease, and the computer opponents are set to tax the player as they work their way through the many teams on offer.

Although I don't feel it beats Kick Off, I do think that it's the best competition it's likely to have and can easily sit aside Anco's game at the top of the pile. Basically, Striker is the perfect complement to the Anco game, and vice versa. It has speed, addictivy and myriads of options It's a stunning debut by Rage and all Striker is missing are the half-time oranges.


As with most in the genre, Striker gives the player control over the team member currently nearest the ball. As soon as the ball touches the player, they can either punt it on to another player or opt to dribble it into the goal mouth. Unlike Kick Off's realistic dribbling effect, though, Rage have opted for a medium between Anco's method and the every-popular 'Velcro Boot' syndrome favoured by the likes of Krisalis. As a result, although complete control over the ball is given, it's still fairly easy to swipe the ball from a player's feet using a sliding tackle or simply by barging them.

Passing and shooting is equally simple. Ordinarily, there are only two styles of shot: hard and soft. But, depending on the way the ball is travelling and other factors, such as height and speed, a wide range of volleys, chips , and even bicycle kicks can be effected.
The best thing about these, though, is that they are so natural in action. Whenever a cross is lobbed into the penalty area, for instance, the player on the receiving end won't just stick it away - they'll make a show of diving in for a header, or they'll slide in to tap it past the 'keeper'. Bearing in mind that real Footy is based on reflexes and timing, this works really well.

On the downside, though, sliding tackles often result in inadvertently fouling the opposition - either resulting in a free kick or penalty. The latter simply places the player in front of the goal, with a plotting cursor used to aim the kick, but the free kick system is considerably better. Expanding on the John Barnes' method of sending players into the box, as your players enter the area, all you are left to do is plot the line of your shot. Using a dotted line to aim, the player can bend it past the wall (and, yes, the players making up the wall do hold their nuts in preparation) using after-touch to add swerve. In addition, the length of time the fire-button is depressed for determines the shot's power - and your greatest goals can be repeated endlessly until your friends are bored silly...

Striker: Playing session at Rage.

It was a warm May Friday and the gauntlet was thrown down. 'Comeon up to the office and see Striker, said Rage head honcho, Paul Finnegan, to our dashing Deputy Editor, Steve Merrett.
After several practice matches, another gauntlet was thrown down by way of a challenge. 'If you win this,' laughed Finnegan, 'the company is yours to keep.' Accepting, Merrett promptly sat down and tanned Paul 2-0, thus maintaining CU's considerable pride.
Next up, was programmer George Christophrou who, after a surpise comeback by Merrett, was promptly stuffed 5-3.
Further rematches were duly offered and subsequently won by CU's Kick Off II champ and answer to Gary Lineker, and Merrett eventually left with just one defeat under his belt. We're still awaiting the keys to Rage's docklands offices, though...

Striker: Playing session at Rage.

Striker's options also allow the player to toggle the amount of graphical detail used. On starting the game, a full complement of centre circles and assorted markings will adorn the pitch. However, these can be switched of and this results in a slightly faster game.
Although the changes aren't enormous, I found playing Striker a lot easier without the detail. However, for anyone experimenting with the game for the first time, they'll be adivsed to keep them on and benefit from the 10% reduction in speed.

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Rage/1Meg Amiga/ST/£25.99

Striker has a third person viewpoint similar to Super Formation Soccer on the SNES, except during penalties, when it pans smoothly down to a lower angle. As Big Ron Atko would say, "The lad Striker's more than quick." In fact, Striker has selectable speed options, from a sedate, Molby-like pace to blisteringly fast - you can switch off the incidental pitch-markings and really feel the g-force ripple your cheeks.

There are 64 national teams, a vogue-ish scan option for set-pieces, and a selectable full video-style replay facility.

From the look of the demos, the graphics are smart and the action seriously frenetic. The flight of the ball is a bit beach-bally at times, but it looks as if it may be a serious contender.
A seriously skill game - highly recommended.

Striker CD32 logo CD32

Welcome to the CD32 round-up and without further ado, le us jump straight in with Striker (gremlin, 0742 753423 £29.99, 58 per cent).

Football is all the rage at the moment - pre-World Cup fever, if you will - and Striker boldly pronounces on the box that it "... is probably the closest anyone has come to creating a realistic soccer simulation". This is simply not true. If the box had stated: "Striker is possibly the closest that anyone has come to creating a ridiculously fast soccer simulation," then fair enough.

And check out the price - 30 knicker. The game was recently released on floppy for under a tenner, but adding a few audio tracks to the CD version is hardly worth an extra 20 quid.

Having said all that, Striker is a reasonably footy game, particularly in two-player mode. The teams are all international and seeded and there are the usual tournament options, but this still doesn't justify its price tag.

Striker CD32 logo CD32

Gremlins Soccergame riß vor knapp zwei Jahren auf Disk kaum einen Fan vom Stadionhocker - um so rätselhafter ist es, daß bei der neuen CD-Version genaugenommen rein gar nichts verbessert wurde!

Wie gehabt dürfen ein oder zwei menschliche Bolzer ein kleines Freundschaftsspielchen wagen oder an der kompletten WM teilnehmen. Bevor man sich eines der 64 unterschiedlich starken Nationalteams herauspickt, werden erst noch die dreifach variierbare Lebensnähe der Ballkontrolle, die Windstärke und die Mannschaftsformation (5-3-2, 4-4-4 etc.) festgelegt; im Anschluß geht's auf das schräg von oben gezeigte und vertikal scrollende Spielfeld.

Hier kann nun jederzeit ein Radarschirm eingeblendet werden, und der gerade aktive Spieler ist mit einem weißen Fleck markiert - die einzige Ausnahme bildet der (außer bei Elfmetern) vom Rechner gesteuerte Torwart.

Bei Standardsituationen wie Freistößen, Eckbällen usw. darf die gewünschte Schußrichtung mit einer gestrichelten Linie bestimmt werden, aber auch Kopfbälle, Fallrückzieher und ähnliche Akrobatik-Schmankerl sind durchaus drin. Nach dem Abpfiff gibt's dann noch ein paar Statistiken zu bewundern.

So, fangen wir bei der Manöverkritik mit dem Positiven an, denn das läßt sich recht schnell abhaken: Die akzeptabel gezeichnete Grafik ist übersichtlich, und die Steuerung würde rein theoretisch ebenfalls in Ordnung gehen.

Nur hat man in der Praxis wenig davon, weil das in affenartigem Tempo vonstatten gehende Gekicke nur mit dem Reaktionsvermögen von Superman einen sinnvollen Spielaufbau zuläßt. Als passender Ergänzung dazu gibt's Sound auf Kreisliganiveau , aber keine Saveoption. Kurzum, diese Scheibe solltet Ihr trotzt WM-Jahr weiträumig umdribbeln! (md)