Manchester United Europe
Copyright/Publisher: Krisalis Software, Created By: Hitchhiker,
Graphics By: Neil Adamson, Music By: Matt Furniss, Genre:
Football/Soccer, Release Year: 1991, Number Of Players: 1 or 2

At the start of every season, most players aren't quite up to 100% fitness. Their play's scrappy in places, individuals start to tire badly during the second half... a managers nightmare and nothing but. Can MILES 'FAT STRIKER' GUTTERY get the measure of Buzz's Manchester United Europe, or are they both early shower material?

Alex Ferguson's red army did the biz when English clubs first got back into European club competition a year or three agon, winning the Cup Winners Cup in style. Obviously, this provided a good (not to mention lucrative) reason for a follow up to the cosmetically-sound but ultimately limited (read disappointing) first Manchester United game.

Aiming to re-create United's glort on Europe's finest stage, the European, UEFA and Cup Winners cup are included, with 170 (no kidding) top continental sides to battle against.

Like its predecessor, MUE's a jack o' trades. You can either play it as a pure management game with matches turned off and merely results displayed, or you can allow the computer to control your team and watch through gritted teeth as your master plan unfolds on screen.

Anyone feeling extra tough can get to grips with full management and then take control arcade style, during matches. However if picking teams and formations send you to the land of nod, you can turn off the management element altogether and play friendlies agains the computer or a friend.

Although MUE looks similar to the first United game in terms of the mix 'n' match levels of strategy and arcade action on offer, anyone familiar with the original will notice one or two major differences. Most importantly, the first game had its emphasis on tactics and a match section too simplistc to provide real arcade satisfaction.

Almost the opposite can be said of Europe. Gone are any transfer market dealings, training up of individuals in specific areas, accounts and finance juggling. What's there is a far more playable game, although the players look a bit feeble - the more tired they get, the slower they become, yet their animation speed remains constant.

This leads to the comical sight - towards the end of a tough game - of players, legs and arms thrashing along at 90mph, progressing up the pitch at a rate more becoming of arthritic tortoises. This is a minor quibble, though, as the football isn't acutally bad.

A complex system of before and aftertouch allows a great variety of shots, chips and passes to to be accessed. The subtleties of control certainly take time to master, with some movements not as instinctive as they might have been - but a real sense of satisfaction is felt when you get it right, and the ball hits the back of the net.

Goalmouth Drama
Europe's programmers opted for a system where the ball actually sticks to players' feet during dribbling, rather than being tapped along in front (like in Liverpool). Fortunately, this helps prevent that all-too-common problem of players being able to run through opposing defences time and again without being tackled.

The man in possession moves at a distinctly slower rate, meaning mastery of accurate passing is a must. Another welcome feature are competent goalkeepers, making scoring all the more skilful.

If you find yourself getting hit for six by the computer it's possible to alter computer skill/speed levels in goalkeeping, defence, midfield and attack to compensate. Conversely, once you start to improve ypu can tone down your own team's abilities for a stiffer challenge.

Time's relentless stroll has left one or two aspects of Europe a little outdated. Player names can be edited but there's no sign of the backpass rule, and the European cup is still a straight knockout tournament - there's no sign of the league system now used to decide the last eight.

Also, a big annoyance while playing the cups is having to load in the match sequence separately, then reload the management section after the final whistle. The absence of any sort of league's a shame, but once you get the controls sorted it's a fair challenge for solo players and a good head to head if any of ya mates are of a mind to join in.

MILES! 79%

JAMES!
You can hardly tell the football season's started again, can you? After seemingly aeons without a soccer game appearing, three arrive in the space of two months - fortunately, two of them aren't bad.

Manchester United Europe is a great improvement over its predecessor, but I can't help but think its match sequence could've been improved. As it is, it's good, but haveing seen the speed of, say, Liverpool, I'm a little less forgiving with slow-paced soccer games.

Other than mentioning its (irritating) multiload, there's not much to say about Europe - there's very little about it that provokes either a positive or negative response. In my books, that makes it average, and you know what mark an average game gets, don't you?

50%


INTRO SCREEN

PRESENTATION 58%
Surprisingly poor - no user-defined competitions.
GRAPHICS 60%
Dull sprites and adequate pitch.
SOUND 36%
In-game squelches, grating title tune.
HOOKABILITY 65%
Tricky to get to grips with.
LASTABILITY 78%
Limited, but a laugh for two players.
FORCE FACTOR 65%


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