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Football is a game governed by many different factors quite apart from the two teams playing and their location. Since the day of Kick Off 2 on the Amiga, soccer simulations have sought to include every possible variable in their digital translation. Adidas Power Soccer has everything that other football game has in terms of leagues, competitions and seasons, but also includes a great array of selectables which can totally alter the way you played the game.
Engage simulation or arcade mode
One of the most important features of Adidas Power Soccer is the choice of either the simulation or the arcade modes. This isn't a totally original feature (FIFA has a similar device). However, the execution is far in advance of anything seen to date.
As you might expect, Simulation goes for the all-out soccer experience, where the strategy and tactics are as important as the passing and shooting that occurs within the game. Arcade usually means a simpler control method and a faster action in the other games. However, Psygnosis have gone for an unconventional approach in Adidas.
Whilst the pace has indeed been elevated as befits an arcade experience, the game actually has a more complicated control system, with various simultaneous buttons presses resulting in "special moves" being activated. Moves include spectacular volleys and juggling tricks being performed, along with such useful techniques as bicycle kicks and best of all - the Adidas Predator Shot.
A more in-depth analysis of Special moves can be found later on, but suffice to say that the difference between Arcade and Simulation is very pronounced indeed. Once the players have mastered the Special Moves, the game is completely different to play and indeed to watch when compared to default simulation option.
Just a matter of perspective
Soccer games with 3D engines tend to indulge in some gratuitous camera angles which can serve to upset the balance of gameplay. Adidas Power Soccer does away with that line of thinking, with Psygnosis concentrating on providing some views of the action which are conductive to good gameplay...
1. Side Cam
This is the default camera angle seen in the game, and is the described as the Match of the Day perspective. That is, enough is seen of the pitch to judge tactics, but you can also savor the skills of the players (as depicted with the excellent motion capture). This is by far the best perspective with which to play the game.
2. Pan Cam
This panning camera perspective provides an overall view of the stadium, centered of about the location of the ball. Allowing you to see pretty much every player on the pitch, the view shows off just how uncanny the AI on the player is as you see just about everything occurring on the pitch. However, for actually playing the game, it's a difficult angle when it comes to judging the height and the direction of some shots.
3. Sky Cam
This is a dynamic overhead view as basically turns Adidas Power Soccer into a sideways scrolling football game, similar to Kick Off, but turned through 90 degrees. Your field of vision is limited there, and much reliance on the radar at the bottom of the screen is in evidence.
4. Virtual Cam
The camera swings around to show the view from above and behind an attacking player's head. If you're in the opposition half, the camera centers on your progress toward the goal which is great as it shows exactly where your players are. However, if you're in your own half, your field of vision is extremely limited as you're basically running "out" of the screen.
Let's see that on the monitor again
Whilst in the thick of the game you might bear witness to a particular skillful example of football which you want to see in the game. A replay option is available which enables you to view the last moments' of play, playing back the action with the aid of a VCR-style control panel. Thanks to the inclusion of some interesting zoom options, the action can look pretty spectacular... If you're after a replay of a rather striking goal, the game produces one automatically, via a multiple of different angles.
Tournaments and seasons
A huge amount of detail tends to go into tournament sections of soccer simulations, and we certainly keep up with the trend for including just every type of football competition. A choice of tournaments is up for grabs and these are split into two basic types : the cup and the championship.
As you might imaging, the former is a basic FA Cup style scenario with teams picked for specific matches - the winner progress onwards to the next round with the losers knocked out. The championship style tournament is an international season with all sides playing each other at home and away.
For total soccer fans, there is an opportunity to participate to a full-blown domestic season. Again, every team plays each other both at home and away. The difference between this and the championship tournament include the sheer amount of extra stats available in the season scenario, along with the number of teams involved.
Another difference concerns multi-player options. Seasons are strictly for the single player to take on the CPU-controlled opposition. With the two tournament options, multiple players (be human or computer-controlled) can participate.
A pitch for each season
Taking the sheer realism of the game to even greater lengths, Adidas Power Soccer offers a number of different weather conditions to get to grips with. There are four variation in total, each related to the particular season the game is played in.
The winter pitch is characterized by being completely white (a special orange ball is used for visibility purposes here) and hampers play by being hard and icy. Treacherous conditions indeed. Better are the Spring and Summer pitches - Spring is probably the best as the ground is harder in summer.
As you're probably guessed, the final pitch is Autumn which is a lot more heavy going, the water-logged ground providing a lack of bounce when compared to the Spring and Summer pitches.
Enter... Brian Moore
Veteran ITV football commentator Brian Moore provides the lead vocals for Adidas Power Soccer, his distinctive analysis coming through perfectly on the Playstation. He follow the tradition of digital tradition of commentators including John Moston (FIFA), Tony Gubba (Actua) and Andy Gray (Striker). Psygnosis have actually gone one better on the opposition by including a variety of different voice-overs. German and French commentaries are included for our European Partners, plus there is a choice of male or female voice for each territories.
Perhaps more pertinent is the sheer amount of speech the artists in question have recorded - some commentaries can grow very dull very quickly, but the variety in the speech here should make the novelty last longer.
Adidas Power Soccer is a creation of Psygnosis (c) 1996 All rights reserved
All photographs are reproduced with the kind permission of Psygnosis.