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Developer: Z-Axis OPTIONS: S.SHOT
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: Take 2 Interactive 1-2 Player
Game Type: Sports Sim Memory Card
Review Date: May 1998 Standard Joypad

Setting the Scene

As the 1998 World Cup Tournament fast approaches prepare to be 
swamped by a wide assortment of merchandise of which the vast majority 
will have nothing whatsoever to do with the sport of soccer.  Expect 
to be force fed promotion for official World Cup lawnmowers, authentic 
FIFA hair dryers, a set of six France 98 tumblers....  Genuine fans 
who do not have a cat in hells chance of visiting the finals in 
France (unless they win a competition on a box of T-Bags or purchase 
600 tins of semolina and send in the labels) will have to settle 
down in front of their TV screens with a four-pack and watch 
televisions interpretation of the event.  

Meanwhile, millions of Playstation gamers will be scanning the 
shelves of stores and hire shops seeking the ultimate World Cup 
video soccer simulation that will allow them to mimic their hero's 
success or indeed alter the course of history.

You see, there are five World Cup soccer related titles about to hit 
the stores but which will stick around as long as Ronaldo's Brazil 
and, equally important, which will slide into the pits along with 
Ali Daei's Iran.


Three Lions is the official England Team soccer game for France 98, 
although the title may change depending on the country it is 
Check out the list below.
ITALY               Bomba 98
SPAIN               Mundiales 98
FRANCE              Pro Foot Contest 98


Three Lions opens up with two minutes of breathtaking action that 
superbly blends live video footage with in-game animation.  Ince leaps 
into the air to win the ball in midfield and heads it down to Gazza.  
In an instant he passes it to the polygon Beckham who tears down the 
wing and then floats a beautiful ball directly into the path of the 
real life Alan Shearer.  In a split second the now animated No.9 
hammers the ball home past the helpless keeper before switching back 
to live footage for the after goal celebrations.  The intro is very 
reminiscent of FIFA 98 and has a pulsating backing track to match.

After visiting the simply designed option screen where your team is 
selected the players will now run out onto the pitch, begin to limber 
up and perform a few stretching exercises.  The initial idea was 
good but it somehow looks very 'put on', as if it was thrown together 
as an afterthought.  Even the players look slightly embarrassed as 
they halfheartedly go through the motions.  Suddenly they all break 
off from aerobic practice and gather together for a team photo-style 
pose.  This allows you to get a closer look at the real player's faces, 
which have apparently been photo mapped onto the models.  
Hmmm.  Ugly bunch.  
I instantly recognized Englands David Batty only to later realize that 
he wasn't even on the team sheet.  The rest of them could all have 
been wearing Peter Beardsley masks from what I could gather.

Once the game is underway the players seem to move quite fluidly, 
especially the keepers who athletically fling themselves across the 
goal-mouth to palm away a shot heading straight towards the top corner.  
A press of the Turbo button sees your player slightly lean forward 
as his pace increases which gives the overall appearance of that 
little extra effort being offered.  It is only when they are standing 
around that they begin to look a little constipated (as if they are 
about to squat). 

We can finally applaud that developers have at least got those camera 
angles under wraps.  It appears that the days when up to ten camera 
positions were up for selection, but none seemed quite right, are 
long gone.  Five on offer of which four are playable.

If you are looking for graphical comparisons then Three Lions is a 
vast improvement over Taito's very average Super Football Champ but 
falls way short of Konami's ISS Pro.

Sounds and Effects

The music that accompanies the brilliant intro is the excellent 
100 Mile High City from Ocean Colour Scene taken directly from their 
hit album Marchin Already.  No complaint here.

I'm not quite sure about the sound effects though.  Rather than opt 
for the standard big name commentator Three Lions has the players 
talking, not only to each other, but also to the referee.  Now this 
is dangerous ground because unless you are completely blind most 
of us can lip-read the type of banter that goes on during a football 
match and it is definitely not 'Man On', 'Right Side' and 'Run with it'.  
There is the occasional decision call from the referee and combined 
with the constant roar of the crowd.  I suppose it is better than 
the arcade commentary found in ISS Pro, but I would have preferred 
the option to switch the verbals off myself had it not been to my 


Three Lions features over 50 international teams from past present 
and future.  Each of this years World Cup finalist are selectable 
with the numbers made up with non qualifying teams from Europe, 
South America, North America, Africa and Australasia.  

Sadly there are only two modes of play - Friendly and Tournament.  
Friendly is your usual Exhibition match between any two nations in a 
single player game against the CPU, a head to head against a mate or 
a cooperative partnership against the CPU.  World Cup Tournament is 
based on the rules from this years Finals with an option to tinker 
around with the draw between Seeded, Random and World Draw.  On winning 
the Tournament mode you will be offered a cheat code that reveals a 
selection of historic teams from the past.

There are three levels of difficulty, which are Youth, Pro and 
World Class.  Game length varies between four to thirty minutes, 
which may be played during the day or under the floodlights in the 
evening.  Offsides may be switched off for a more free scoring game 
of soccer.  That's it.  Simple options for a pick-up-and-play type 
of game but beware of the new strict FIFA rules in which tackles 
from behind has been outlawed and will often result in a red card 
being shown. 

Once a team is selected you may then adjust your formation and line 
up from the full squad of 22 real name players.  Each is rated over 
six skill points speed, vision, dribbling, passing, shooting and 
one touch.

The developers of Three Lions have decided to go for a simple, but 
effective, control system.  You don't need to remember multi-button 
combinations to perform over head kicks or intricate dribbling and 
passing moves because none of these moves are in their repertoire.  
A single press of each face button offers a shoot, pass, turbo boost 
and chip during offence and slide tackle, poke tackle, turbo and 
player switch when defending.  The shoulder buttons are used for 
an intentional foul, through ball and tactical change during play.

The one action I struggled to come to terms with was the all-important 
'shoot-at-target' system.  To score a goal you must quickly line up 
a moving archery target to the precise part of the goal where you want 
the ball to end up before firing a shot.  Considering that the target 
may not be visible on screen at the precise time you wish to shoot 
proves frustrating in many situations.  The only way that I found to 
combat this annoying feature was to quickly press down on the directional 
pad before each shot thus guaranteeing my shot would not fly way over 
the bar.

Value for Money

You have to ask yourself if you are only interested in buying 
the best soccer game around at the time or would you accept one of the 
also rans.  Three Lions does not reach the high standard set by 
Actua Soccer 2 and FIFA 98 but is still acceptable and has that instant 
appeal which should hold the attention of the younger audience.
GRAPHICS: 15/20 The competition for the top World Cup video game will be fiercely contested over the coming weeks. Being the first released Three Lions has an obvious advantage but I would recommend that you refrain from rushing out to purchase this title until all rivals have been judged.
SOUND: 7/10
VALUE: 15/20

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