It's funny, old and entertains millions of people worldwide without telling a single
mother-in-law gag. It's football, and for some it's not just a game. Just ask
England manager, Graham Taylor who must somehow win the European Championship
or else be crucified by the tabloids!
Maybe you'd fancy a challenge like his - but without running the risk of
becoming a national villain. In this case, England Championship Special allows
you not only to pick your team but also to play for it.
You can play a friendly for England against any other European national side
played by the computer or a friend. Most importantly you can enter the
European Championship tournament.
There's no need to qualify; you go straight
to the finals with two groups of four teams - which you can choose yourself. Each group
plays 'round robin' and the top two teams from each go forward to the semi-finals.
Before a match you get to pick your formation and team (from a squad of real
England stars) - and your opponent's! Not that it makes much difference in the match.
The various players don't seem to play any differently and you don't know who you're
controlling anyway as the player's name isn't shown.
Basic player controls include the usual ball-glued-to-foot dribbling, although
at least when you reverse direction your player realistically turns through 180 degrees
instead of 'flipping'. When you kick the ball, strength and height are determined
by how long you hold down fire.
If the ball's in the air you can press fire to attempt a header. You can also slide-tackle
opponent, although this runs the risk of a foul. Unfortunelately, the resulting free-kick
is a farce: a wall of your own players lines up in front of you!
Defending is made more difficult by the way control automatically switches to the
nearest player to the ball (including the goalie), with the player you were previously
controlling stupidly running away.
This means that in two-player games you can easily beat your opponent's defence by
zigzagging left and right to keep changing which player he's controlling! This forms
the general pattern of play as without a radar scanner accurate passing is difficult.
Although two-player games can be hectic fun, England's tournament option offers little
challenge and there's a disappointing lack of relevance to the team selection. It's
as mediocre as the real thing, I'm afraid.
This is yet another in seemingly endless line of overhead view footie games and by
now you'd expect them to start getting in right. The graphics are as bland is we've now
come to expect, I suppose there's restrictions on the detail and number of sprites, which
makes gameplay all important.
England promises some innovation with walls, team selection and so on, unfortunelately
the lack of a radar scanner makes realistic passing difficult, player names never come up
and glitchy replays serve only to remind you how much better MicroProse Soccer was. By
comparison with World Championship Football this isn't bad, but neither is it much of