Ultimate Soccer Manager 98
USM Is Back. Last Year You Got Three leagues; this year you get six - the English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Scottish - with every division represented. Again, you can play as a coach, ignoring the club's day-to-day financial problems, or get right down to the nitty gritty of the pricing policy of officially endorsed, brushed-nylon, open-crotch knickers in the team shop. You can also choose whether you want to be a straight-ahead kinda guy, or get into bribery, match-fixing and betting. There are five levels of difficulty, which determine how much money you start with. If you pick grandmother level, you'll get 20 million smackers even if you opt to manage Doncaster.
There's a kind of halfway option on the financial front, in that you have an assistant to help with all those onerous tasks you can't be arsed to do yourself (like managing the team, if you're Ruud Gullit). And there's another to keep an eye on training and make suggestions - but mine was shite. I overtrained several players to see what happened, and he never once suggested I change them, even though all their hernias were hanging so badly they looked like cows' udders.
The transfer market's slightly more realistic than it used to be - I made 300,000 attempts to sign players to Spurs, and no one wanted to know except for an elderly lady from Walthamstow. (Unfortunately she passed away in the Dial-A-Ride minibus on her way to training, which was disappointing, as we we were relying on her to give the defence a bit of bite.) But you can still do well in loans. At one point I had Stoitchkov, Pedrag Mijatovic, Patrice Loko and Thierry Henry on loan all at the same time. Mind you, they all pissed off after eight weeks.
You still have that weird skills-improving thing, where you spend 23 weeks getting someone from 66 up to 67 for passing, then they get bored and want to do something else. And since there are limits to a player's ratings according to the division he's in, this means there's no point in buying a lower-league player. At that rate of improvement you'd have them up to Premiership standard just in time to cremate them. You also have to wait about in the hope that a coach becomes available who can actually do what's needed for the team - which gives you the same regretful feelings of chronically wasted time that you get when you watch a Channel Five chat show.
God knows I tried
I've been playing this game for two whole seasons now with Spurs. I've also started another game with Spurs and Inter, and a third with Dynamo Dresden. At first it's quite likeable. Gradually, however, it really starts to get on your tits. There are loads of things that really start to aggravate you the more you play (a few of them are listed in the 'Details, details' panel below - the first version was 500 words long).
And yes, you could make a list of faults with CM2 if you had a mind to. But there are a couple of huge differences. Firstly CM2 is the only management game you'll see being played by people who normally hate computer games. Secondly, despite the faults which appear with every version, you still want to do well at it because it tricks you into thinking it's real life. The difference with USM is that no one is going to see someone else playing it and become an addict, and the faults, instead of seeming like the winsome foibles of a loved one, gradually accumulate to the point where they make you want to beat it to death with turn-of-the-century farming implements. It makes you tense in all the wrong ways. Getting back to CM2 afterwards is like a return to calmness and sanity.
It's the little bits of attention to detail that make all the difference in a game. And sometimes it's the annoying little things that build up in your mind until you hate it. Like these, for example...
- Players' names are wrong (Vladimir Bout appears as But Vladimir). Many are wrongly positioned
- You can't see the player performance screen from the substitution screen, or who's been booked anywhere except on the main game screen - two screens back
- You can't see the opponents' team at all in-match
- There aren't any black players
- You can only name three subs in FA Cup matches and friendlies
- Players turn out automatically, even when injured
- When someone's injured in a game, there's no indication of that when you go to the subs screen
- You can wait 15 minutes to make a substitution
- You can't undo a substitution if you change your mind before restarting the match
- The opposition will get a penalty in 86 per cent of your matches (and none of the resultant goals will be shown as such)
- Transfer deadline day passes without any of the deals you're negotiating going through - nobody thinks to hurry up Injured players automatically get picked if you forget to remove them - one got Man of the Match You can loan players from your own division My FA
- Cup semi-final replay against Leeds was at Eiland Road
- You can't just switch between teams if more than one one team is being being played. You have to have 'turns'. So your match will come up first if you're the first team to play, but if you try to get to the team selection screen it will only show the second team, because you've already handed control over. Duh...
- The stadium redevelopment thing makes you build terraces (even in the Premiership) before you can make a better, all-seater section...
- There are more, but it gets tiresome.
Processor: PC compatible,
OS: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game Features:Single game mode