Liverpool
Copyright/Publisher: Grandslam, Produced By: Arc Developments,
Programmed By: Chris Coupe, Graphics By: Paul Walker,
Release Year: 1993, Genre: Football/Soccer, Number Of Players: 1 or 2

The passes, the shots...the excruciating fouls. Let's face it, football's a violent old game these days. Shinpads at the ready, JAMES 'BIG TACKLE' PRICE trots onto the pitch...

Writing a review (or indeed, anything) about football is difficult. The clichés trip so effortlessly off the fingers; anything from the tradiotional 'it's a funny old game, Brian' to Emlyn Hughes 'squeeky' gags. With everyone putting pen to paper or finger to keyboard and using them, it's amazing that no-one's complained.

I mean, they're not funny, right? They've been over-used, yes? So why do I, hating them, feel the need to use them in this review? It's so easy; you can close a sentence with them, end the review on a different note - even captions aren't safe.

Football games are, by nature, notoriously difficult to describe. In essence, you could bang out paragraph after paragraph of basic text that describe how to play the game - but wouldn't that be boring? Endless lines that basically re-write the game's manual - well, I wouldn't read them.

And so, after that initial round of criticism, I've either got to write an amazing literary masterpiece, or make an excuse. Being a coward, I'll choose the latter - as much as I enjoy playing soccer games, I'll admit I hate writing about them.

Automatic Promotion
Liverpool was originally previewed back in Issue Three, in which Miles enthused 'Liverpool looks like being the most absorbing footy fandango yet on the C64'. If by that he meant enjoyable soccer game (I mean, what's a fandango?) then he was totally correct - Liverpool just about walks all over every previous game in its genre.

The reason for this is simple: speed. Whereas other effors dawdle along at an adequate pace, Grandslam's offering positively motors. To accommodate this, the screen area is smaller than usual, but the petite scale of the players means there's often a lot on screen at any given time.

This is also useful while passing; more often that not, soccer games show little of the pitch (or players), making the inevitable passes to off-screen players sheer acts of faith. Unless you're playing a long ball game, Liverpool allows you to make clever crosses and even set-pieces with a certain amount of skill.

This is party due to the fact that players can 'trap' the ball; once you've learnt the technique, real football (instead of the usual 'hit it and hope' fodder) is possible. Noy quite so realistic but equally praiseworthy is the 'aftertouch', where the direction of the ball can be altered subsequent to its kicking. This is useful for through-balls, set-plays, shooting - whatever you feel comfortable with.

Heading the ball is simplicity incarnate. Should the ball be at head-height, a quick stab of the fire button results in an often-useful header. Using this in dead-ball situations (ie corners or throw-ins) can result in the execution of spectacular moves and even goals.

Goalkeepers - many a soccer game's weak point - are computer controlled in Liverpool and, unusually, their skills aren't too shabby. Rather than keeping to their goal-line, they'll run out to intercept the ball should defenders fail to do their duty.

If you're a Liverpool fan, you'll find the team selection section fairly novel. Individual pictures of the team (I'm pretty sure they're digitised) adorn two-thirds of the screen; the other part contains options and information on a selected player.

As a whole, Liverpool has that indefinable 'something' that makes the occasional piece of software so special. It's also better in two-player mode - I'm just off to trash Chris again...

JAMES!90%

CHRIS!
Having received letters of complaint concerning my Emlyn Hughes comment, I was looking forward to Liverpool enabling me to rebuild my tarnished reputation. Of course, I could only win back my popularity if it was a good game - no lies in this mag - so I was eager to see exactly how it would turn out.

Whether it's pure coincidence I don't know but Liverpool is an excellent football game. Opposing teams are surprisingly intelligent - as are the goal keepers who do their utmost to save a game. You can power off shots at a titanic sped, and the ability to swerve and trap the ball allows for all sort of plucky tactics and well-planned goals.

Forgive me for being sceptical, but I didn't think the C64 could handle such excellence (shame on me). If you're a football fan you won't find anything better. As for my Emlyn comment, compare that game to this and see what I mean - ha!


INTRO SCREEN

PRESENTATION 78%
Team pictures, league & cup competitions.
GRAPHICS 72%
Sprites are bland but speedy.
SOUND 66%
The odd roar and whistle.
HOOKABILITY 93%
Grabs you by the throat...
LASTABILITY 94%
...and won't let you go.
FORCE FACTOR 93%


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