Format reviewed: Atari ST
Developer: Dino Dini
Submitted by: Andy Bold
Kick Off 2 is the reason why I am crap at football today… I spent hours on end playing this game when I should have been outside kicking an Adidas Tango around the street with my pals! There are many things that set it apart from the footy games which came before and after it. The most obvious is the lightening-fast pace, which probably put many people off the game initially. Another is the way the ball doesn’t "stick" to your players’ feet, as had been the convention in earlier football games.
However, perseverance (and practicing with the game set at 50% speed!) eventually pays off and you’ll be so glad you stuck with it when it does. Suddenly, what had been frustrating battles to keep control of the ball become skilfully orchestrated passing moves. As you get to know your team’s formation and each player’s strengths your confidence grows, seeing you spread cross-field passes to that speedy winger on the left (R. Shaw!) or keeping it on the deck and playing it through the middle to the feet of your star striker to turn and shoot from 30 yards.
The game features the usual friendlies, league and knockout cup tournaments, plus a "world cup" finals. There is no endorsement by FIFA or the FA so the teams are made up of imaginary players. However, it doesn't try to imitate real-life by using famous player names spelt incorrectly (I'm looking at you, Sensible Soccer and ISS Pro Evolution!) and instead creates its own footballing universe containing players who sound more like cricketers than footballers – H. H. Day and L. R. Lindsey to name a couple of the England squad!
Ultimately, it's how the game performs on the pitch that counts and once you have mastered the "beautiful game" you'll find there really is no substitute for Kick Off 2. Add in the classic "after touch" allowing you to bend and dip your shots, and a randomness to the action – if the ball hits the frame of the goal, you never quite know where it will rebound to – and you end up with a classic football game which still plays very well today. It might not look as pretty as other football games, but this just adds to the charm and suggests that more development time was spent perfecting gameplay rather than aesthetics – substance over style.
Final score… Kick Off 2, Sensible Soccer nil!