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Developer: Gremlin OPTIONS: S.SHOT
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: Gremlin 1-4 Player
Game Type: Management Sim Memory Card 15 Blocks
Review Date: July 1998 Mouse

Setting the Scene

"... oh why are we waiting?
Why are we waiting?
Oh why are we waiting..
oh why, why, why?"

"What's that, it's arrived?"  
"Nah, you must have made a mistake, Premier Manager '98 won't be out until 
at least the year 2,000!"
It bloody well has and further more it's just in time for the brand new 
1998/99 soccer season.

The Premier Manager series established itself as the benchmark for soccer 
management sims in the early 1990's. Premier Manager 1, 2 and 3 have sold 
over 1 million copies, with the third in the series staying in the charts 
for almost two years.

Premier Manager '98 follows on from these and is the second serious soccer management 
sim for the PlayStation (after last years Player Manager). It has been brought 
bang up to date with a completely new game engine, while retaining many of the 
popular features from the series.


Premier Manager contains the most accurate player data in any Football 
Management game. Gremlin has enlisted Goal! magazine to provide statistics 
for all 92 English clubs and a host of European and South American sides. 
Ninety two experts have been consulted to check the data for each team 
ensuring that the lower leagues will contain a few future stars and the 
Premiership, the odd old boot. 

In addition to this unrivalled database, PM 98 also boasts a vastly superior 
AI routine. All the statistical information provided by the individual players, 
team formation, tactic, etc is used to compute a real game of football, giving 
the most realistic results possible. The upshot of this is that players can 
watch highlights of the important incidents from each game they play. 
These highlights are created using the Actua Soccer 2 game engine and - along 
with authentic kits and obligatory commentary - help to up the realism levels significantly. 

All correct league and cup competitions are included with two modes of play. 
Premier Manager allows you to take control of any team in the league or to 
embark on a simulated career, taking control of a lowly 3rd Division side and 
trying to move them up the Divisions.


Okay, so you expect this to be the shortest section of the review because 
football management games simply don't offer much in terms of visuals.  Wrong!  
Those clever chaps at Gremlin Interactive have combined the customary reels of 
head splitting statistical facts and figures with their Actua Soccer 2 game 
engine to provide a feast that looks as good as it tastes.

This feature takes soccer management sims right into the 21st Century and 
hopefully never to return to that archaic system where a calculator could 
pick your preferred eleven.  It's all very well being informed that your 
left-sided midfielder was rated a six out of ten but what did he do wrong?  
Did he play too deep?  Was he lacking in pace?  Or was he just tossing around 
and then claiming his overpaid salary?  I suggest that on purchase of this 
title you drag the monitor into your garden shed, to recreate the surrounding 
of the dug-out, and then settle down to watch the game highlights.  You can 
then witness first hand the number of stray passes your Number 3 is guilty of 
and then adjust his training schedule accordingly.  

If you have already witnessed the impressive visuals within Actua Soccer 2 
then you will be aware that the graphical content in Premier Manager '98 is 
quite superb.  It's those little touches that made Actua Soccer 2 something 
special. When the keeper bounces the ball in his box his shadow mirrors each 
movement of limb and when the opposition scores a goal your defenders drop 
their heads and rest their hands on their knees looking totally dejected.  
What makes it even more suitable for this style of game is that the camera 
angles have been set at a slightly higher level offering a wider perspective 
of the pitch.  This offers a similar effect to that when watching your team 
play live on a Saturday afternoon and then experiencing a totally different 
game when replayed on Match of the Day in the evening.  Concentrating on the 
few players around the ball may be fine for the regular supporter but what a 
manager needs to witness is those runs off the ball that don't quite come off, 
miss-timed tackles and even goal keeping errors that lead to a conceded goal.

It all works as an excellent release after a lengthy session of studying the 
in-depth form guide.  In fact it is just like getting a treat for doing your 
homework correctly.

Sounds and Effects

Of course the most important part of a soccer management game is that you 
are allowed a little peace and quiet when contemplating your starting eleven.  
You don't really want Uriah Heep or the Sex Pistols blasting out from the 
speakers while sifting through the players form guide, do you?  Thankfully, 
the background music to Premier Manager 98 is relatively sedate and can be 
eased down or switched off in the options menu.

Of course during the game you want the complete opposite.  All too often 
soccer games are backed by a monotonous drone that is supposed to represent 
the atmosphere of a soccer game therefore it was nice to see that Gremlin 
have put a little extra effort into the crowd noises. As a player nears the 
goal the expectancy of the crowd raises with ooh's and aah's for near misses 
and the most deafening roar when the ball hits the back of the net. 

Barry Davies from the BBC sports team once again supplies commentary, who 
this time sits in the box all alone. The accuracy is remarkable as every 
touch is praised or criticized, be it skillful or lousy.  Players on the 
ball are named, decisions are debated and constant references to the scoreline 
keep you updated.


Okay, enough about how pretty it all looks.  If all you wanted was to sit 
back and watch graphical representations of soccer games then you may as well 
purchase Actua Soccer 2.  Management games are a strange breed; you either 
love them or hate them.  To be honest I fall into the first category and have 
even been known to keep bookkeeping records to help me decide which player to 
purchase.  I constantly keep a note pad by my side and am forever scribbling 
down opposition ratings, transfer fees and positional changes.  Sad, isn't it?

There are two modes of play and an option to allow the soccer players age with 
time, adding further realism.  Up to four human players can take part in 
either game mode, which works, on a turn based system.  

For a short term view into soccer management there is the Career Team selection.  
Here you must sign on as a manager and from a list of ten take control of one 
of the lesser fortunate clubs from the lower divisions.  Selecting Brighton, 
Chester, Darlington or Hull City your aim is simple - avoid relegation over a 
season.  A choice of Cambridge, Exeter, Mansfield or Shrewsbury Town beckons 
a mid-table placing while Lincoln and Mansfield must strive for promotion.  

The Career mode is a great deal tougher than the standard Management mode and 
boy are those directors tough.  My first effort involved saving Darlington 
from the dreaded drop.  "Clear out a few players!" boomed the command from the 
top.  I sat for hours checking out each of the player's strengths and weakness 
before deciding on giving three the boot.  I then played one pre-season 
friendly and was duly dismissed for using an under-strength squad.

Management mode allows you to select any team from four English 1997/98 
divisions.  In effect you can make your life as difficult as you wish.  Most 
players will probably first decide on handling their home town team or 
possibly a big name Premiership club where you will have millions of pounds 
at your disposal and the chance to choose your first team from a squad of 
players that are household names.  With the aging process switched on you will 
also be able to see how Liverpool's Michael Owen flourishes over the years, 
how David Beckham performs after his recent World Cup incident or indeed if 
Paul Gascoine is fit enough to play out an entire season.  However, the real 
challenge with soccer management sims is attempting to bring one of the 
minnows through the divisions over several seasons without being given 
the sack.

Once decided on your team you will want to view the squad of players.  This 
is accessed from the main menu, which is divided into five categories - 
transfer market, daily news, squad, memory card and options.  It is worth 
noting that saving any game takes up an almighty 15 blocks on your memory card, 
therefore make sure you have completed Gran Turismo or Resident Evil 2 before 
starting a season.  The options screen offers the facility to adjust sound 
volume/effects and decide on the match length.  Each match may last up to 
two minutes or, should you prefer, provide an instant result.

Within the squad menu each player is rated using a five star system.  Their 
match fitness is recorded in percentage terms while their preferred playing 
position is color coded for easy use.  Similar to all management games there 
are menus within menus within menus and Premier Manager 98 is no different.  
Formation may be adjusted depending on your tactics.  Tactics range from man 
to man marking to how hard you wish your players to tackle.  Training 
facilities allow you to offer specialized practice for each individual to 
improve on their lesser abilities.  Contracts may be scrutinized allowing you 
to offer an increase in salary or sack the lot.  The final option shows a 
detailed statistical analysis of each player's skill level.  This covers 
passing, tackling, shooting, heading, pace, stamina and control.

The Daily News section is packed with a wealth of useful information.  This 
includes league tables, results, fixtures, top scorers, a weekly dream team 
and the dreaded boardroom.  Inside the hallowed office you can view the money 
available for transfers, adjust ticket prices, view attendances and adjust 
your backroom staff funding.

The transfer market shows the players presently available for purchase but 
you may also approach any league team with an offer for an unlisted player.  
I tried to prize back Darren Huckerby to Newcastle United but Coventry's board 
were not having any of it, no matter what price was put in front of them, but 
the option is available should you wish to persevere.

Each team is allowed four friendly games before the season begins to get their 
squad match fit and for this there are 127 European and World teams to select 
from.  Once a season begins the usual program will be interrupted for League, 
F.A. and European Cup competitions including the Super League for Europe's 

Before each game begins you can visit the 'view and change squad' menu to 
select your starting line up.  You may also make final adjustments to your 
tactical plan.  The game can be viewed in two ways.  Skipping straight to the 
TV menu allows you to watch the Actua Soccer 'live' highlights.  I use the 
term 'live' meaning that the game is already over but you do not know the 
score.  The problem with this is that you cannot make tactical changes during 
the match should your game plan blow up in your face.  The only way this can 
be implemented is to watch a text screen running of the game and view the 
highlights later.

After each game you can view all of the match statistics showing ratings of 
each player, goal scorers, bookings and sendings off.  All red and yellow 
cards are carried on through the season with the David Battey's of this world 
experiencing one or two suspensions.

Value for Money

Gazing at a screen packed with numbers and players names for hours on 
end may not sound like much fun but Premier Manager 98 succeeds in being a 
right riveting good read.  The depth of gameplay is phenomenal and proves 
to be the icing on the cake while the Actua Soccer highlights are the 
cherry on top.
GRAPHICS: 17/20 Although Premier Manager 98 has proved to be well worth the long wait there is a couple of little niggles I would like to get out of my system.

After playing a few games in a season I found that I had stopped watching the game highlights. Now seeming that this is the feature that makes the game stand out from the crowd I was slightly disappointed to see this spectacle go to waste. If you are going to take each match seriously then you will want to watch the event as it happens. Surely there must be some way that you can stop the camera action, throw on a couple of subs, adjust your formation and then continue with the TV action. Alas no.

The second gripe is that when playing a season with more than one player only the first players seems to be allowed access to the main menu screen. Because of this the second player cannot enter the transfer market, browse through the squad menu or adjust their club finances, which is rather unfair.

That aside and even though we really know that these games are constructed by using a simple mathematical formula - will your twin strikers, who are rated as a differing 82 and 71, score a goal against the oppositions' keeper who is a commendable 80 - Premier Manager 98 is the best available game of it's type by a long shot.
SOUND: 7/10
VALUE: 19/20


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