Gazza II
Copyright/Publisher: Empire Software, Programmed By: Paul Clansey,
Graphics By: Active Minds, Music By: David Whittaker,
Release Year: 1990, Genre: Football/Soccer, Number Of Players: 1 or 2

We can exclusively reveal why Gazza cried during the World Cup. After playing a rather powerful header, he lapsed into a temporary trance and experienced a premonition of how truly awful the C64 version of his personally endorsed game was going to be. (Now that's not strictly true, is it? - Ed.)

Gazza has been bafflingly popular for ages now. This golden boy has gone from strength to strength, so frankly he's long overdue for a bit of public humiliation and this comes in the form of Empire's latest (and possibly worst) software release.

It's an arcade-cum-management-cum-tactical soccer simulation in which you get to pla- oh hang on a minute, I was being a gullible fool and believing the blurb on the packaging. It's supposed to be all of those things. Sadly, it falls down badly on each and every count.

At the start of the game you are presented with a clear, concise menu screen containing all the features you should expect from a quality football game. So far so good. So let's take a look at those options.

You can choose the pitch surface (plastic, normal, muddy, icy and rough), the wind - speed, kit colour, formation, match length, and skill level... But there's not really much point. There's little discernible difference between any of them.

Choosing a high wind setting does have a curving effect on the ball but, by the time you know that, you're already fighting a losing battle with the game controls, so who cares? Sorry, I'm getting too far ahead of myself. I haven't finished with the options yet.

Choosing your kit colour doesn't seem so smart when two teams are wearing similar strips either. And while we're on the subject, why wear a loser's colour like brown when you can opt for a winning agressive hue like red? It's important to point out that you are what you wear.

Formation is about the only tactical feature you'll find in the game. Skill level is useless as it appears to have a little or no effect on the difficulty of the matches. Match length is by far the most useful option as it means you can reduce it to one minute per half. This at least allows you to finish a game before terminal boredom sets in.

As for playing the match itself, you've probably gethered by now that it's not altogether enjoyable. When the screen gets busy, both scrolling and control become horribly jerky. Team mates and opponents wander randomly around the pitch, leaving you no opportunity to use tactical passing plays.

The most hilarious facet of this valueless gem is the goal keeper. For some reason, he always keeps his arms outstretched and thus seems unable to hold onto the ball. Shots bounce off the goalie, so while he stands there like a complete lemon, an opposing player can calmly walk the dropped ball into the back of the net.

Gazza II is a tragic waste of an opportunity really. It's not like a turkey of a game that you take great delight in slating. All the features of what could have been a corker of a footie sim are there, but they've all been thrown together in scuh an unworkable fashion that it becomes a chore to play.

Loads of features and competent graphics are badly clouded by dire gameplay, putting Gazza II firmly in the Sunday League. Given a bit more work this would have been a first division product and remained so for a very long time to come.


INTRO SCREEN

POWER RATING 38%
THE DOWNERS
Several of the gameplay options have little or no effect.

Only occasionally follows the correct rules of league football.

The goalie is a bumbling fool whose hands seem to be allergic to football leather.

Both the computer opponents and your team mates have an IQ of a similar number to that on their shirts.

Busy screens slow down the computer enormously....

...and it's not as if elaborate graphics are to blame.

Where's Gazza?

THE UPPERS
The two player option just about saves it.

The large range of options is commendable.

Ball movement is a bit spiffy.


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