Those of you who read my Championship Manger 99/00 review will remember that I touched upon why I feel the game's simple text driven menu system works over fancy graphics.
I feel that if a football management game were to adopt a FIFA 2000 style of play for every match, there would be a few obvious problems with this. Every arcade style football game has one shared flaw - the fact that they're beatable.
With most, once you have learnt certain weaknesses and/or exploitable bugs, you can pretty much guarantee you'll win most if not all games. [One nasty example of this was the problems the UKPCGC had with Actua Soccer, with one player notching up 109 goals in 15 minutes! - Ed]
Put this into a football management game and you take away the whole point of the simulation. Or you have the other extreme, where the skill level is just too daft for even the most adept of players to conquer.
This said, one of the sparkling entries on my wish-list is still for a football management game which allows you to take control of the team itself for each match. Using your brains as well as your joypadding skills!
It was with great interest then that I received the rolling demo of Euro League Football...
The Dream Realised
Developers Dinamic have certainly packed as much into ELF as they possibly can. All the usual football management features are there, driven by a smart looking menu system. However, the game goes much further, allowing you to take control of each game in an arcade style mode.
ELF will allow you to take control of any team from the current English league, as well as any of the major continental European teams. No mention in the press release of non-league teams is made, which is a shame because I would like to think I can take charge of Chelmsford City's fortunes .. at least in dreamland anyway!
Like all the popular titles, you also have your own sets of suited people looking after your accounts, physios, and scouts. Something else that looks to set ELF apart from the crowd is the complete control you have over your team and stadium development. Even down to what food you sell in the ground!
You can of course modify your team's training schedule as well. Practising your set piece play could prove a match winner for the next fixture. It's going to be interesting to see how all these attributes are interpreted by the pitch play. Will a player who can't shoot to save his life be as bad when you take control of him?
Though excited by the potential of this title, I can't help but feel that the task of striking a workable balance between simulation and arcade play will be insurmountable.
I think a more workable combination would be for you to only control one player for the games, rather than the entire team. Be a Player Manager in other words.
I just worry that once you know the computer play inside out, you will be in a position to exploit certain 'score every time' scenarios. Also, like most games of this ilk, there is always the odd undiscovered bug, which can sometimes give a player an enormous advantage.
I really hope I am going to be proved utterly wrong. The 3D engine used in the arcade aspect of the game looks great, with over 500 motion-captured sequences used. Live match commentary will feature, as well as the original sounding player banter!
While you're waiting for the game to walk down Wembley way, check out the screenshots to whet your appetite.