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01 Feb 2015
Many football management simulations were released on the Amiga, some were dire, others were average or
better. So how does USM fare? Read on as all is revealed.
On load up, you are presented with an average music score, while the credits are flashed center screen
at you, it isn't really much to look at. Pressing the mouse button takes you to a team selection screen.
All teams are listed alphabetically, with their starting division shown beside each. So if you were to
choose, say Man Utd, you would be starting in the Premiership.
Before you start, you can also choose to edit any team's players and their stats, useful if you would like
to play with modern day names, and you're willing to put the editing time into it.
Next follows the amount you would like to start with. This is simply a difficulty setting based on finances,
more than skill.
Now in the game, the main screen focuses on the stadium and surrounding buildings, all of which can be destroyed,
modified, or upgraded.
I have a little annoyance with stand improvements. You click a stand, another screen will come up showing a list
of all stands and buildings, instead of just options for the stand you clicked on.
So you now click a stand in the list, expecting to be taken again, straight to that stands modification options.
Nope, instead you are taken to the stand first in the list, and this has caught me out no less than three times
in one season.
Instead of improving the stand I wanted, I repeatedly improved the first stand in the list, meaning I wasted in
excess of 3 million on improvements that wasn't needed. You have to select the stand from across the top
of the improvement screen. This is by far, the most confusing option screen of the whole game.
From nearly any screen, pressing the right mouse button will pop up an options widget, from here you can visit
all areas of the game, such as your office, chairman's office, accountants, the bank, training ground etc.
Each screen has various options within them.
The office, you can view newspaper headlines, use the telephone to
place bets, view the teletext, use the fax machine to transfer players, and view the notice board. All option
screens have nice animation and audio touches to them when you hover the mouse over the clickable options.
Transfers, in instances when I bought players, were instant. No waiting days for a negotiation to finalise. This is also
the case for when renewing player contracts.
Match day is interesting, in that you have an overhead view of the players and match ball, instead of just text
commentary like USM's biggest rival in this genre (Championship Manager). There's also some unusual formations on
offer, 3-1-6 being one such crazy formation.
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Anytime during the match, you can also give individual orders, like telling certain players to press up, keep back,
move out to the left or right.
Match day you can choose to watch at up to 8 times normal speed, or generate an instant result. I watched all matches
at full speed, giving a full season gameplay time of around 12 hours.
Match day sounds are very average. Ball thuds, ref whistles, and generic crowd cheers are all you get.
The assistance manager is pretty useless, he will do training for you, but only in default areas. An example is,
even though one of my players reached 99 in shooting ability (the maximum), he didn't move the training focus for that
player, to a lesser valued attribute such as pace.
The assistant will also deal with advertising boards, but won't choose the best valued deals, he will just populate the boards
so none are blank. If you have plenty of cash, this isn't such a big deal.
Ticket prices can be set, as can prices for anything else, from beer to scarves. Going too high will keep fans away
though. You can also gift lots of tickets to schools, which help fill up an empty stadium if you expand too quickly.
In order to avoid the sack you must keep good finances, do as well as possible to hit your chairman's targets for
the season, and avoid upsetting the players.
You are able to issue bribes in this game, though I chose to play without bribing switched on. You can also bet up
to 300k on your teams match outcome. I have no idea what would happen if you betted to lose, and lost. I kept all
my bets to wins only.
There's not really anything special about this game, it's more of a grind to get the end result you desire, yet a
very addictive grind. The music will be first thing you switch off. There's certainly enough depth to keep you
playing til the end of your current season (time permitting).
A remake for mobile devices should be considered for football fans, as a complete package.