Ultimate Soccer Manager 2 is the followup of USM and mostly a graphical improvement over the DOS and Amiga AGA versions. Now sporting a 640x480 resolution, all of the offices menus (from where all options are selected) are crisper and some of them were merged together to simplify navigation.
New features include team and individual training, player personality (meaning that a team of talented players can still be unsuccessful if key players are either psychologically weak or flawed), better catering and merchandising options and setting up plays.
The game is packed with both English, French and German leagues, although all run from different executables.
Ultimate Soccer Manager 2 is a management sim before it is a football sim. As the manager of the football club of your choice in any of the leagues in England, France or Germany you control who gets hired, fired, sold, how much the soda cost, which stands need improving and scores of other things. The most important assets for the club are, of course, the players. In Ultimate Soccer Manager 2 these are the actual players of the clubs at the time of making. This is in contrast to the first version of this game which had fantasy names because of a lack of licence which would allow them to use the real names of players. The players themselves have various stats that determine how good they are at performing various functions on the field. The most important of these are tackling, passing and shooting. These determine whether a player is a defensive player, a midfielder or a striker respectively. Other attributes are for instance pace which determines how fast a player can run and fitness which, if lower then the maximum 100 means a player is injured and should be rested.
As Manager you decide who will play in which position and what kind of tactics your team will use. This portion of the game can be as simple as choosing a 4-4-2 set up and putting your best players in defence midfield and striking positions and executing the match and can be as involved as making your own set pieces and free kicks. Once you start a match you have the option of giving each individual player commands like up field more or fall back more but again you don't need to in order to finish a match with a win. The match itself is played out in semi 3D style with players running up and down the pitch passing the ball. Although it all looks nice the match does feel unreal. Scores are never more the three goals apart even when you put Manchester United against the weakest team of the conference.
You are allowed to bet on matches and it can be an easy way to pick up a few quid. You can even bet against your own team and then throw the match but you do not earn any more money that way and it does mean you lose valuable points in the race to the championship so there is little point in doing so. In the games I played I never once had money problems. Selling players is an easy way to get more money and if you bet on every match you are sure you can win you can earn more then 15 million in betting alone in a year.
This brings me to the mayor weak point of the game. This game is not difficult to play. It all revolves around getting the best players and as long as you have the money even the best premiership players have no qualms about playing in the third division meaning you can pretty much buy yourself a dream-team and win practically every match.
But Ultimate Soccer Manager remains a nice game. It is gratifying to see your third division team gradually climing the divisions to finally take that first premiership win. Finally the endless matches will bore you but it takes a long time for that to happen.
A much better game than it's predecessor, Ultimate Soccer Manager, and not much worse that it's sequel and "grand finale" USM98, USM2 the perfect example of a second "volume" in a trilogy: Although it misses the multi-league seasons avaiable in USM 98, the quality of menus vastly improved from the original USM, and in some cases even surpases 98. For instance, the club cabinet has onyl cups you actually won, and the top bar - the one most gamers miss at first on USM98 - is always visible with all options available. And if you have played USM98, you will feel at home - well, maybe not, but on the upper floor maybe, who have the same layout, and only a couple of things out of the place your are used to see. The presentation and graphic style are the same, except they are a bit more simple, with less gradients and less detailed.
You can still edit your team skills, but be warned that the psychological features of a team can either improve lack of skill... or destroy what would be a near perfect team. Buying players is more easy than in it's sequel: just click the player you are willing to buy, and then adjust the values - you will be informed if the team or player want more money, bigger wage or a less lenghty contract, and you only have a few attempts before the player stopping his negotiations. As soon as the player agrees terms, he is immediately avaiable for your squad. As usual, you can sign sponsorship deals, build new marketing/catering outlets, improve the stadium, give declarations to the press after a match, and then read the next day newspaper, and last but not least, USM's trademark, rig matches, bung teams and betting on the outcome of your matches.
There isn't much more to say about the game, except it is no more, no less what you would expect from a game in the USM franchise.
People who downloaded Ultimate Soccer Manager 2 have also downloaded:
Ultimate Soccer Manager 98-99, Ultimate Soccer Manager, Sensible World of Soccer 96/97, Championship Manager 4, Championship Manager 2, Championship Manager 97/98, Sensible World of Soccer, Championship Manager: Season 00/01
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