Ultimate Soccer Manager 2
Until Now, You've Basically Had the choice between one of two football management games - Championship Manager 2, the Holy of Holies and most addictive thing a football fan will ever get their hands on; and Premier Manager 3, which despite its name, makes you start life in the Vauxhall Conference and has Amiga graphics and dozens of faults. USM2 is a worthy addition to their ranks. At first I didn't like it - in a direct comparison with CM2, it comes up short in several areas - but once you stop treating it like a serious football management game it has a few things to offer.
You can play an English, French or German league game but you can't actually view a foreign team, which seems a bit of a waste of whatever effort has gone into compiling them. The parochial approach extends to the ingame conversations you have with your staff - it's a little unsettling to have a chat with a German Chairman who speaks in a comedy Yorkshire accent, or a French assistant manager who talks like Ringo Starr.
When you first start the game you can decide whether you want to play it straight, or get into match-rigging, bribery, corruption and bungs; it's also the moment to take advantage of the Music Off option and start the game with 10 million quid (even if you're Gillingham, or Brighton). You can edit your team, changing ratings or even creating new players. There's nothing to stop you making up your own Ronaldo, or Stefan Reuter, or whoever you think you'd like, but won't be able to get.
Or will you?
In fact, you'd be surprised just who does come up for transfer (See Transfers boxout). The transfer market and the ratings system leave a lot to be desired in the reality stakes. And at first, it's the game's faults that you notice, rather than good points. For example, you have to hire coaches to improve the team's skills, but you don't always start the game with one. And if there isn't a general coach available in the list of two or three people you get at the start, you're stuck without one. You're certainly not going to waste money hiring a specialist Cthrowing' coach.
When offering a price for someone on the transfer market, it's really annoying that you can only move the price in increments of one pound. No lower league players have decent ratings (if they're in a lower league side, they're not as good and that's that) - so there's no chance of picking up a Danny Murphy type.
And the scouts are a bit crap. My Csuperb' Gillingham scout recommended Alessandro del Piero and Ricardo Sa Pinto as strikers. Yeah, right - they're going to leave Juventus and Sporting for Gillingham, aren't they?
Despite these minor niggles, though, you gradually start to appreciate the fact that it's trying so hard. Basically, the game goes for everything full-on. On the financial side, you'll be looking after everything from the advertising hoardings to the price of the beer in the club restaurants and bars, setting ticket prices for different areas of the ground and different matches, and even taking charge of ground development. (If you're not interested in any of this, you can switch it all off at the start, or get your assistants to deal with certain elements.) And on the team side you'll be doing everything from offering star players incentives to join the club, to creating your own moves and set-piece plays and arranging individual training for players.
Overall, it has more in common with PM3 than CM2. Just like PM, I find it hard to get obsessed with my team in this. This is in marked contrast to CM2, which is real life. It's a sad indictment of my own life, but the night I got Gillingham into the Premiership and won the Cup Winners' Cup with Spurs, I was jigging about, arms in the air, screaming Yeee-eeee-eees! (But silently, so I wouldn't wake my girlfriend.) I can't imagine ever caring that much about a team in USM2. Anyone who liked Premier Manager, though, will like this more, simply because it has everything PM3 has, only more so, and you don't have that tedious crap about starting with a non-league side.
**The Big Match
During the match itself, you'll see the players running about on the pitch. You can view the proceedings at normal speed, at 2-, 4- or 8-times normal speed, or see the result instantly. You can Replay any incidents, and change tactics and team through the Subs option. Once play stops (if it ever does) you can change formation, tactics and playing style (although this only consists of a choice between long ball and passing), and you can also decide how strongly your team will go into a tackle (a scale of three, ranging from a Le Tissier-type airy wave of the foot, up to a Neil Ruddock-style all-out assault). And you can give players instructions on an individual basis, without having to pull embarrassing faces and shout nonsense.
Although there is an on-going transfer market, it doesn't really have the ring of authenticity about it. I got Robbie Fowler for 2.3m on the first day. In one game, Alan Shearer was up for grabs. Southampton bought Jurgen Klinsmann and Gianluca Vialli. I got Roberto di Matteo on loan for three months and bought Matthias Sammer for 1.9 million. You could argue, of course, that given that you can make players up at the start of the game, none of this matters much.
Download Ultimate Soccer Manager 2
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP