Dino Dini's Goal!
|a game by||Dini & Dini Productions|
|User Rating:||8.0/10 - 1 vote|
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Old navajo proverb she say: 'Never trust game that has name ahead of title.' Kevin Toms' Football Manager, Emlyn Hughes's International Soccer and Luke Goss's Invest And Prosper Game are three that spring to mind. It could be said that Dino Dini's Goal is not exactly in exalted company. However, life, they tell me, is full of surprises, so off we go.
The expected range of game types and options are available: you can construct your own league of anything from between two and 32 teams, playing each other up to ten times (a useful indicator says how many games this will entail each team playing for the mathematically challenged), select points for a win. and human and computer levels of competence. There are the accepted cup options (number of legs/extra time/penalties) and exhibition game options, too. Two-player games can only be played with two joysticks, which is a bit of a pain.
The options screen is extensive, allowing you to decide everything from the duration of the game and the direction you'll play it (horizontally or vertically) to the level of expertise of the goalkeepers (from Schmeichel to Minims). The range of pitches available isn't as wide as that in Sensible Soccer. There are only four: normal, wet, muddy and Wembley (for those big cup matches that nobody wants to play at Elland Road).
There are a great many teams available: the French. Spanish, German. Italian and Scottish top divisions are all present: the English Premier League and a few prominent First Division teams are also there. There's a European selection (a mix of the above) and all the European national teams too. All teams have a full squad of players - up to 28 strong - from which you select the team for a game, along with two substitutes. This leaves plenty of room for the George Graham-style selection of 13 centre-backs.
Playing formations available aren't as varied as those in Sensible Soccer, consisting only of 4-4-2.4-3-3. 5-3-2 and 4-2-4-Teams have a default setting which can only be permanently altered in the Editor screens. You can change and save the team members and it will recall these between games; but if you want to change formation from game to game it gets irritating as it keeps going back to the original formation and scattering the numbers (and thus positions) of players about at random (a defender in the centre forward spot, and so on).
This makes for irritating and time-consuming adjustments before the start of every game in any kind of lengthy campaign. Where the game scores over Sensible Soccer is that this screen can be called up and adjustments made via the substitution option throughout a game; so if a defender is sent off you're not left with a gaping hole in your defence. You can also call up a match report mid-game which shows everything from just how many more shots on goal you've had. to how small a percentage of the play and how many more players booked.
Whether played horizontally or vertically, there are two different sizes at which the game can be viewed, and neither are very good; zoomed in. you don't see enough of the pitch in the small playing area; zoomed out, you can hardly see what's going on because everybody is too small. You can toggle between the two views as you feel like it, or you can choose either of these options at the start. You can also select Auto, which keeps the view zoomed in until a set-piece occurs, then zooms out. The 'radar view' of the pitch is useless, being placed outside the frame of the pitch in the top left, and information letting you know who has the ball is also way out of the line of sight, beneath an obvious 'filler' picture of a large football that's a complete waste of space. Why the playing area can't just fill the screen and this ridiculous arrangement be dumped is beyond me. It worked perfectly well on the Amiga version.
The players are very scrappy-looking, and seem to be running around wearing partly shredded cornflakes packets. The sound is terrible, even with a soundcard. The much-vaunted crowd noises are nothing but white noise, and the sound effects are less like that of'boot on leather' than of 'length of hollow rubber pipe on head'.
How it plays
It's very different from Sensible Soccer. Anyone who played Kick Off will find it familiar, which is unsurprising given that Mr Dini was one of Kick Off's designers before going solo after musical differences. (Anyone who played the pc version of Kick Off will be pleased to note that the lower third of the pitch is not concealed beneath an enormous Axminster). The main difference is that, just like in the Premier League, players don't automatically bring the ball under some kind of control, preferring instead to allow it to whack off their knees, ankles or testicles rather than slow the game down in any way with continental trickery. The ball bounces off players unless you press fire to control it; hold it a fraction too long and the button press will be transferred to the next player who will hoof it madly, and your attempt to aim becomes aftertouch. As such, it takes a lot of getting used to. Some might like it but, personally. I prefer Sensible Soccer, as Goal's approach tends to produce a game more like pinball than football as it should be played.
All in all. Goal isn't even close to being the saviour of pc football games. Sensible Soccer still rules in a weak field, and the Navajo saying holds true once again.