I Play 3D Soccer
Copyright/Publisher: Simulmondo, Produced By: Francesco Carla, Graphics By: Ivan Venturi,
Coding By: Nicola Ferioli, Release Year: 1991, Genre: Football/Soccer, Number Of Players: 0-2

Already a big name in Italy, Simulmondo have just begun their UK invasion with a brand new distribution deal. After Soccer we can expect Formula 1 3D and GP Tennis Mananger very soon with many other titles in development. Apparently in Italy the only games machine that matter are the Amiga and C64. Sensible people!

This ambitios 3-D perspective was first attempted by MicroProse's shortlived MicroStyle label with International Soccer Challenge. Much hyped, with a C64 version dismissed as 'impossible', the finished Amiga game moved at a crawl and got just 45% (Issue 68.)

Simulmondo's C64 game is not only faster and more playable, it also features an incredible split-screen simultaneous two-player mode. After Gremlin's Sizzling Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge it seems there's nothing the C64 can't do!

There's more to the game than graphics though: comprehensive options begin with a choice of languages and lead on to team selection. Dozens of teams are on offer, everything from Ajax to Everton to Torpedo Moscow! How many of them enter the championship is up to you, for a two-player match you might decide just two teams is enough to decide things in a single game.

For a bigger challenge you can enter all the teams! You also decide whether the teams are computer-controlled or human-controlled. On human-controlled sides you get fixed control of just one player. However there is an option for human-controlled players to be on the same side, player cooperatively.

But what happens if two human teams go against each other, and one team has two human players. Where do you plug the third joystick? - C'mon, be realistic, there are some limits to Simulmondo's brilliance! Instead the two-player team switches to one player, so it's a fairly standard one-to-one situation.

And if only one human is playing, the second player's screen disappears and a chinwagging (but silent) announcer watches over the proceedings. Before each match a game options screen comes up. Dumbos can simply click on 'Go' and be straight into the game.

But sneaky tacticians such as Phil might want to vary the length of the match (ten options, from 2 to 45 minutes), set the difficulty level (ten settings), select which player in the team you control (anyone but the goalie!) and turn on/off whether your man flashes (oo-er!) to help you keep track of him.

Once the game begins you can choose to play sensibly, marking a player and keeping in some kind of some zone, or alternatively you can act like everyone else - constantly legging it after the ball over the whole pitch.

Since you're stuck with one player, it's quite easy to lose sight of the ball as the action speeds off somewhere else (probably through the defensive gap you left!). The radar scanner is useful then, although most often you simply follow the other players.

The main way of getting the ball is pressing fire for a bone-crunching sliding tackle. The ref can award fouls, but thankfully doesn't give yellow cards or send anyone off. Alternatively if one of your own players has the ball you can get him to pass it to you by holding down fire and pulling down on the joystick.

This works well with some very accurate passing, but you need to be sensible when you do it otherwise the pass will be intercepted. Once you get insdie the penalty box you can jab the fire button for a quick pass, or hold down fire to shoot. If you score you can press the Commodore key for a brief replay (complete with frame-by-frame forward/reverse play).

If you're bought down in the box a penalty is awarded which you can choose to take yourself or give to another player. There's also throw-ins, corner kicks, extra time and penalty shoot-outs!

On the negative side there's no substitutions, just one basic team formation and no save/load option for those massive league challenges. Also, although the map works well for one player, for the other player it's reversed - until you get the hang of it you can spend ages wandering in completely the wrong direction, only coming across the ball by accident!

These are relatively minor faults though, the blocky graphics work well with some nice kicks and a good turn of speed - it's as fast as most overhead-view games! Although occasionally confusing, there's a great sense of being in amongst all the action.

There's a very realistic sense of panic as someone heads toward your goal, neatly side-stepping your bloodthirsty tackles. More surprisingly, snappy passing makes for a good tactical feel: it really does seems as if you're 'interacting' with the other players. For once the hype seems justified - 'I Play' is supposed to mean the player, the 'I', is completely brought into the action.

Over the longer term the lack of tactical options and a comprehensive league, plus the ease with which you can win the cup (just enter two teams), may limit single-player lastability. However as a two-player game 3D Soccer finally approaches the fun of Amiga Kick Off with a very different game style.

?
I love anything to do with football, and this is no exception. The 3-D perspective causes a few problems, like not being able to switch control between different players and occasionally losing track of the ball, but it does give a totally different atmosphere to the usual overhead or side-on views.

In a way it's more realistic because you can't see what all your teammates are doing as they're often beyond your field of vision or obscured by opposing player. The cooperative two-player mode is especially rewarding, passing to each other and going on decoy runs to draw defenders away from your dribbling partner. Good footy fun.


INTRO SCREEN

PRESENTATION 78%
Intro Action replay, restart, ten skill levels, simultaneous two player competitive or cooperative play.
GRAPHICS 75%
Blocky, but fast and effective player sprites with great two-player split-screen option.
SOUND 15%
Very basic: whistles and kicking sounds.
HOOKABILITY 82%
Very easy to get into.
LASTABILITY 73%
Sadly no save/load, but there's plenty of teams to take on and the two-player modes are great.
OVERALL 80%
Not perfect, but great fun and very ambitious.


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