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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: February 1999 Mouse

Setting the Scene

The Premier Manager series firmly 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 showed up on the Playstation barely seven months ago and was the fifth best selling game of the year with sales over 175,000 units. Quite what all of these gamers will make of an update so soon after it's initial launch will have to be seen.

Premier Manager 99 has been programmed with a full new set of team stats, which means all those early season buys are now playing in their new colors. Yorke's at Man United, Ferguson's now playing for Newcastle and Nottingham Forrest are still stuck with Van Hooijdonk. Furthermore the entire Italian Serie A and B are now selectable. With a few tweaks and turns in the gameplay and a brand new endorsement in Kevin Keegan, Premier Manager 99 is bang up to date on all accounts.


Premier Manager contains the most accurate player data in any Football Management game with accurate statistics for all 92 English clubs and 34 teams from Italian Serie A and B.

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, Premier Manager 99 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 gamers 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 Third Division side and trying to move them up the Divisions.


Once again those clever chaps at Gremlin Interactive have combined the customary reels of head splitting statistical facts and figures with their Actua Soccer 3 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. By selecting the highlights option you can settle back and watch each stray pass or perfect combination and then adjust your training schedule accordingly after the game.

If you have already witnessed the impressive visuals within Actua Soccer 3 then you will be aware that the graphical content in Premier Manager '99 is quite superb. It's those neat little touches that made Actua Soccer 3 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.

Sounds and Effects

For those interested it is basically a Caribbean, funky, jazz type music with plenty of referees whistles thrown in for good measure. But who needs background music when studying the form? Switch it off!

Barry Davies from the BBC sports team once again supplies commentary during the games. The accuracy is remarkable as every touch is praised or criticized, be it skillful or poor. Players on the ball are named, decisions are debated and constant references to the scoreline keeps you updated.


Okay, enough about how pretty it all looks and sounds. If all you wanted was to sit back and watch graphical representations of soccer games then you may as well purchase Actua Soccer 3. Management games are a strange breed; you either love them or hate them.

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 Darlington, Cardiff, Halifax, Hull, Mansfield or Swansea City your aim is simple - avoid relegation over a season. A choice of Chester or Peterborough beckons a mid-table placing while Barnet and Scarborough must strive for promotion. The Career mode is a great deal tougher than the standard Management mode but watch out as those directors are tough cookies.

Management mode allows you to select any team from the four English divisions as they are during 1998/99 season. There is also the option to become coach of any of the 14 Serie A, or 20 Serie B teams. This offers you the chance to emulate Fabio Cappello and assemble your own Milan dynasty in Serie A. Not only this but the transfer market now opens up a whole new ball game. Want Ronaldo? Offer your star player plus a few million!

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 who are all household names. With the aging process switched on you will also be able to see how Liverpool's Michael Owen flourishes over the years. 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 now divided into eleven categories - transfer market, results, finances, tables, top scorers, top team, fixtures, squad, memory card, options and entry into the next game. It is worth noting that saving any game takes up an almighty 15 blocks on your memory card, therefore make sure you have completed Metal Gear Solid 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. A new option involves an automatic team selection which may be left switched on for an entire season.

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 99 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 pass. Training facilities have been improved. They are now divided into three scales which are fitness, skill and the all important rest period. Now if a player becomes injured you simply allow more rest and he will heal much quicker. 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.

Before the season begins you may set up the club finances. Here you can view the money available for transfers, adjust ticket prices, view attendances and adjust bonuses.

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.

Each team is allowed four friendly games before the season begins to get their squad match fit and for this there are 118 European 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 elite.

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 suspensions and bans coming into force.

Value for Money

I suppose Value For Money depends on whether you rushed out and bought a copy of Premier Manager 98 last July. If you did then there is little to warrant another Footy Management game already. What you actually get in addition to last years game is:
The Serie A and B leagues
Vastly improved training option
Ten new Career challenges
Updated player stats
Kevin Keegan on the cover

GRAPHICS: 17/20 Premier Manager 99 will be an excellent addition to your video game library... should you not already have last years edition in your possession (which is how I have rated it).

However, owning both would be like buying Tomb Raider 3 and discovering that it was identical to Tomb Raider 2... except that Lara Croft was dressed in new clothes.

Of course you could say that about all yearly sporting updates. Perhaps this is more noticeable because it's barely over six months since the original was released.

That aside and even though we really know that these games are constructed by using a simple mathematical formula Premier Manager 99 is the best available game of it's type by a long shot.
SOUND: 7/10
VALUE: 19/20


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