Sometimes a game begins development with a good idea but turns out to be a decidedly average. Hooligans: Storm Over Europe is a perfect example. The concept of leading crazed soccer fans on rampages against all and sundry is promising. However, poor graphics, shoddy gameplay, and pointless missions ruin the experience.
The gameplay is simple enough: starting in a local club with a leader and several "hardcore" followers, players must recruit an unruly mob, loot surrounding stores for money, drug up their followers until all inhibitions are lost, and then accomplish an objective. Generally these objectives involve soccer in some extraneous way, such as taking on rival gangs or sneaking into a match.
Unfortunately, this all sounds a good deal more interesting than it is. Leading your followers consists of selecting them, en masse, then clicking where you want them to go. They will then do what comes naturally to drunken hooligans: bash, smash, etc. This is similar to Age of Empires II, but, unlike Age of Empires II, sadly, your command options pretty much end there.
You can command hooligans to loot a store, engage enemies (which they do anyway), or chant (to enrage them). However, you can't specify defensive postures or subtle avoidance tactics (although you can have prostitutes entice enemies by flirting with them). The resulting action is rather helter-skelter and frustrating. Making things even more confusing are the non-"hardcore" followers who seem to join and leave without much rhyme or reason. Supposedly, your gang's prestige and influence determine how many of these rowdies join your cause, but it's all very confusing.
Shrewd players can take advantage of different units' special abilities and strengths, such as Molotov cocktails and brick turrets. Different types of mood-altering substances, especially the amphetamines, can turn the tide of a battle, though they will exhaust your troops.
The graphics are similar in style and depth to SimCity 2000. The 2D three-quarters view and grainy graphics are, given the complexity and detail in similar games such as Age of Empires II, disappointing. It's difficult to recognize friends and enemies, and even harder to differentiate between different types of friendly units.
Hooligans feels like a cheap exploitation game. Rowdy games involving illegal activity, violence, prostitutes, and drugs are a sure way to attract attention and notoriety -- but, as Hooligans proves, illicit gameplay doesn't guarantee a good game. As the motto, "All you have to fear is running out of beer" explains, this is a simple game. Unfortunately, it's not particularly clever or enjoyable. Much like real hooligans.
Graphics: Grainy and disappointing. Usually difficult to tell your rowdies from the enemy goons.
Sound: Mediocre effects complement the boring action.
Enjoyment: A good idea ruined by boring gameplay. You won't complete many missions because they drag.
Replay Value: This game isn't fun the first time through -- you won't be revisiting it.
The object is to become the most notorious group of Hooligans in Europe. You must kill, maim and destroy the opposing Hooligan teams.
You muster and control your faithful troops by administering drugs, alcohol and of course a good dose of violence every now and then. They must become true followers of your faction, for better or worse.
Not only good strategic skills are required but also a good political mindset and managing capabilities to keep your troops happy and violent. Whoever is victorious and catches the public attention in the media, will end up the most notorious Hooligans in Europe and the world! A title that every Hooligan with his heart in the right place loves to fight for!
Ask not what your team can do for you, but what you can do for your team!
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