We can exclusively reveal why Gazza cried during the World Cup. After playing a rather powerful
header, he lapsed into a temporary trance and experienced a premonition of how truly awful the
C64 version of his personally endorsed game was going to be. (Now that's not strictly true, is it? - Ed.)
Gazza has been bafflingly popular for ages now. This golden boy has gone from strength to
strength, so frankly he's long overdue for a bit of public humiliation and this comes in the
form of Empire's latest (and possibly worst) software release.
It's an arcade-cum-management-cum-tactical soccer simulation in which you get to pla- oh hang
on a minute, I was being a gullible fool and believing the blurb on the packaging. It's supposed
to be all of those things. Sadly, it falls down badly on each and every count.
At the start of the game you are presented with a clear, concise menu screen containing all
the features you should expect from a quality football game. So far so good. So let's take a
look at those options.
You can choose the pitch surface (plastic, normal, muddy, icy and rough), the wind -
speed, kit colour, formation, match length, and skill level... But there's not really much
point. There's little discernible difference between any of them.
Choosing a high wind setting does have a curving effect on the ball but, by the time you
know that, you're already fighting a losing battle with the game controls, so who cares? Sorry,
I'm getting too far ahead of myself. I haven't finished with the options yet.
Choosing your kit colour doesn't seem so smart when two teams are wearing similar strips either.
And while we're on the subject, why wear a loser's colour like brown when you can opt for a winning
agressive hue like red? It's important to point out that you are what you wear.
Formation is about the only tactical feature you'll find in the game. Skill level is useless
as it appears to have a little or no effect on the difficulty of the matches. Match length is by
far the most useful option as it means you can reduce it to one minute per half. This at least
allows you to finish a game before terminal boredom sets in.
As for playing the match itself, you've probably gethered by now that it's not altogether
enjoyable. When the screen gets busy, both scrolling and control become horribly jerky. Team
mates and opponents wander randomly around the pitch, leaving you no opportunity to use
tactical passing plays.
The most hilarious facet of this valueless gem is the goal keeper. For some reason, he always
keeps his arms outstretched and thus seems unable to hold onto the ball. Shots bounce off
the goalie, so while he stands there like a complete lemon, an opposing player can calmly walk
the dropped ball into the back of the net.
Gazza II is a tragic waste of an opportunity really. It's not like a turkey of a game that you
take great delight in slating. All the features of what could have been a corker of a footie
sim are there, but they've all been thrown together in scuh an unworkable fashion that it
becomes a chore to play.
Loads of features and competent graphics are badly clouded by dire gameplay, putting Gazza II
firmly in the Sunday League. Given a bit more work this would have been a first division product
and remained so for a very long time to come.