LOADING is slow. After what seems several aeons - give or take an era -the delightful strains of Sousa's The Stars and Stripes Forever ring out. This tune is known to some as Be Kind to Your Web-footed Friends but is better known as Here We Go, Here We Go, Here We Go. The subtlety of the lyrical nuance is delightfully understated.
After choosing keyboard or joystick, a list of teams is offered. Obviously Mr Toms - the originator -uses an obscure method of computer telepathy at this stage because the team you will want is not on the list; the omission of Ardrossan Winton Rovers is a great loss to humanity. Sponsorship is the next offering. This allows you up to £50,000 instant cash. It will need to be spent fairly early on, as the initial squad is desperately small.
The next important business is the team position selection. The new system allows marking of the opposition and half-time substitution, at which time the team can be reshuffled if improvements are deemed necessary.
The opposition positions and skills are shown, and you can either match skill with skill, or attempt to exploit a weak spot. Next comes the match itself. Football Manager 2 gives the player as much control over the playing of the match as the original, this being none at all.
But gone are the block graphics and slow screen update. Instead, neatly animated weeny players rush about in a frenzy. They stick closely to their positions, well enough to be identifiable to a man.
The pitch is split into three parts -defence, midfield and attack - and flicks, rather than scrolls. This alkuAfc faster action, and is much program. Players pass and tackle with varying degrees of success, and move at roughly scale speed . Only abbreviated highlights of the game are shown, each match lasting just long enough to hold the interest without boring. The results and league table are printed out at the end of the match. The team can be given extra passing training. Players can be bought and sold, but bids are competitive, you always have to stump up ore than you think. Too many low ids, and the player is withdrawn ROM the market. Bargain basement aradonas are out of the question. Very little of the actual running of he club is given to the manager. Far more emphasis is put on playing the matches, the eventual aim being the treble of league and two cups. This will take several weeks, so a save game option is welcome. The realism is quite astonishing; if a player is not completely fit he can be seen to be playing worse than usual.
The game is surprisingly full of features for a single-load product and the addition of various skill levels ensures that FM2 will stay off the back shelf for months.