Kick Off 3: European Challenge
The thing about the original Kick Off games was that they were fast! Sure, you could bend the ball, bang it half way up the pitch and make short passes (sometimes even controlled ones), but I for one couldn't help thinking that things might be a little easier if everyone would just mellow out a little and stop rushing around like a group of five-year olds in leotards desperate for the loo. I mean, hey man! This is supposed to be football, remember? The last time I saw people running around like that was at the end of the Benny Hill show.
A game of two halves
As usual there are loads of different player options and features, such as set-piece free kicks, "intelligent" corners, set plays, team stats, match facts, and even a team talk feature that enables you to instruct your team to "drop back", "sit on it" or "get stuck in". Each country will also play to a definite style so tactics are very important. As a result, you're not just a player but also a manager in that you are responsible for team selection, tactics, formation and how your team perform. In this respect Kick Off 3 is not just an arcade kickabout, but a bit of a management sim to boot (sorry).
Each player in your squad has certain skills and attributes (except, that is, when you're playing Scotland) and it is up to you to choose the best first eleven for each game depending on who you're playing. Players can also flick the ball up to volley it, execute flying headers and scissor kicks, as well as bend the ball, chip it and make short passes. The computer takes over in some situations and makes crosses and clearances for you depending on how you waggle your joystick.
As well as international friendlies, tournaments and cup matches there are a number of practice routines to help you become more proficient, such as dribble and shoot runs, various free kicks and corners, as well as practice matches which allow you to get used to the controls. You can also adjust the speed of your players (three levels) as well as the amount of ball control or stickability.
What about the game?
The game is played from left to right from an overhead 45 degree view. This takes a little getting used to as you can't always see whether you're running or shooting on goal, especially if you're in the faster mode. The sprites are quite large, if a little blobby, and player control can get a bit sluggish unless you've got a speedy machine. The player speed and ball control options are very useful, giving the game a certain accessibility, and you can pretty much find your way around the game thanks to the simple menu system.
Overall, ball control isn't great, and that's being kind. The game's best played with a joypad or a quick joystick, but you sometimes feel as though you're not in complete control, especially when making crosses, taking corners and free kicks. Ball skills do come with practice and the training screens are a useful diversion in one-player mode. The goalie is computer controlled except during penalties, leaving you to take goal kicks and throws. He's pretty average, although he never comes off his line which can be a bit frustrating.
The result after extra time...
Kick Off 3 is indeed a strange beast. It's packed full of player options, but overall gameplay just isn't there. Ball/player control can be quite terrible at times, leaving you completely frustrated, whilst the fact that the crowd merely mumbles when you score a goal, but launches into rapturous fits of joy when you have a near miss, gives you a feeling that it's not quite finished.
Chances are that you've already got a footie game tucked away somewhere (probably Sensi) and if so I would recommend you sit tight and wait for a decent arcade/management footie game to come out that isn't based entirely on the World Cup.
Download Kick Off 3: European Challenge
PC compatible, P-100
Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features:Single game mode