Those of you lucky enough to be the proud owner of an August 1994 issue of AA may very well remember Kick Off 3. In fact you might own it, because it's been riding high in the software charts ever since its release, despite being one of the poorest footballing efforts ever to be captured on disk. With this European Challenge version, Anco have quote, "turbocharged!", their product and added to it in the form of a European Challenge - hence the name. Whereas previously we had the option of playing through a World Cup or indulging in a number of friendlies featuring international teams from around the world, now there is quite a lot more. The World Cup's still there as a matter of fact, and you can still play friendlies between international teams, but club sides are included this time too. The English, French, German, Spanish and Italian leagues are represented, as are selected other teams from around the continent including Celtic, Brondby and (spit) Galatasaray.
The addition of so many new teams is a great feature as it's always good to be able to play matches between the cream of Europe's club sides. But, one of the biggest disappointments in this respect, is that some of the team names are a little unusual to say the least. QPR fans -you get Rangers, and Man. United and Man. City followers are saddled with Manchester and City respectively. But here's the important question - Has the godawful gameplay been improved? Well yes, it has...
Plus point number one is that you no longer need a two-button joystick to gain full control of the players, although an option is included and it does still help. Plus point number two is that the whole thing runs at a playable speed. Always handy, that. Previously the players - I seem to recall saying - "lurched" across the screen, glitching away merrily at the first opportunity.
And whilst it would still be incorrect to describe their movement as entirely fluid, it must be said that a dramatic improvement has been made since the original Kick Off 3 was released. So it's faster and you can actually play it, the dodgy options have been tweaked, and it's good that you can choose more teams in different competitions. But for all that, some of the basic problems remain. Ball control is still a dodgy issue - not dribbling, but when attempting a pass - and it's never too surprising to find your cross-field ball hurtling out for a throw-in.
Not many games allow a player to run down the wing and put over a cross - one of the more important features of any football match - but KO3EC does. That's realistic, and would work well if only the same player wasn't often seen scampering goalwards in pursuit of his own cross (although I've never seen him make it yet!) This fault, along with many others, is an indication of how far Kick Off 3 still has to go to be up there with the big boys.
Since KickOff 2 there were new KickOff games in every year, according to the changes in the championship. '94 was not the last KickOff 3 version. Buy the way, it has many teams and good AGA graphics.
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