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On STEAM, this PC game puts you in the Manager's seat of the lowly NEW STAR FC, almost bottom of the table and heading for the big drop.
They have had a run of managers and each has done about the same as the others, that is not much except sit back and take the wages. You are going to be different. You are going to be more hands-on, at least you will be once you get past the Assistant phase. This is when you get to do as you are told with no chance of making up your own mind, then you are set loose and it's time to see how quick you can turn things around or wave goodbye to your current Division.


The initial training period (aka Tutorial) for you to get through this game is excellently handled. It shows how much fun the game could have been if the actual play after tutorial wasn't interrupted by the game's true mechanics. It is supposed to be a 'Managerial' game not a 'Player-Manager's' game but you make as many moves on the field as off of it, well that's how it seems. Off field you select the team and the substitutes for the game based on their current energy and skill levels. These can be udgraded by the use of Energy Drink cards and Skill cards etc but there are times when you don't have these available and then you have to sub out players. Of course you can sub players during a match but then it's only three for the entire game, prior to kick-off you can make as many as you like within the limits of the number of players you have available.


Matches are played similar to many of the managerial games. You watch the screen and an unseen commentator tells you what's happeing with a blow by blow, pass by pass treatise; this is seen moving swiftly down the right side of the screen. On the top of this the clock rushes along with the minutes flying past, only stopping when something occurs on the field. This could be a 'Goal' for either side, or it may be a free-kick or a Penalty etc, If the ball is in your possession the game will stop and take you to the action, what you do then is up to you and how well you have remembered how to use the player with the ball. This is the fun part, remembering how to kick the ball. 


Click and hold on the player with the ball and then push or pull the mouse forward or backward. If you push it forward then an arrow appears on the floor going forward, as you push it more then the arrow goes orange then red and then green. If you let it get to Green then the player will begin to dribble with the ball, other colours make him kick the ball in the direction of the arrow, Red being him kicking it hard. If you pull it backwards then you will kick it forward, again red being the hardest of kicks. When you select this action the screen changes to a ball rolling from one side to the other and you can either [Cancel] the action or click on the ball to return to the pitch screen and watch your player kick the ball.

Passing the ball to a player is simple, just click on him and the ball reaches him. If you want to make it all soccer-like you can create a run for the player without the ball to make and you can select any point along that run for the ball to be passed to and the running player will take it in his slide. After a few plays you will become fluent in passing the ball quickly, like wall passes, and quick one-touch passes, just by being dextrous with your fingers. Everything stops when you have the ball and you have time to decide where to pass it or where to shoot, however if you play the ball to a player who has defenders around him they will react and try to tackle him. If they do take the ball then the screen changes back to the manager's screen and you watch the action scroll past as text. If the opponents get to shoot or gain a penalty you only see the text result you do not get to see the action - nobody wants to see their team give away a 'Goal' ?


Kicking a ball into a space will set your nearest player and the opposition's nearest player racing to it, the player who was closest getting to it first.


Fairly quickly into the game you begin to need help, not back to the assistant but coaches for various actions and skills. To be able to hire these guys you need to build the facilities they will use. When buildings become available you accept them and they are constructed very quickly in the correct location, then the necessary coaches become availble for you to take advantage of. During play you get to play little games such as selecting Higher or Lower (like the TV programme) or watching a screen for a few seconds, seeing half-a-dozen statements, 4 with a Green background and 2 with Red, and then having to select the correct 4 Green ones after they are shuffled about randomly and blindly onscreen. These games have little or nothing to do with Football but they do break up the one-track game theme. Also by 'winning' at them you get bonus rewards such as additional Energy Drinks, or if you are lucky, a new Skill card. 

When a goal is scored there comes a subtle, discreet, message on the screen 


It's up to you to build the club up as well as the team. You have to find them some sponsorship, get the Press onto their side, get more supporters to each match and do umpteen other things as well as look after the team - and that includes their morale.


NEW STAR MANAGER is a variation on 'Soccer Manager' and the majority of Football Management games. Being able to play a little bit is a bonus, but you don't get enough of it. I don't want to play 90 minute games but I'd like to have more than one or two actions in a 45 minute half and that happens too often, especially if the team and tactics (including the Formation) of both sides is very similar. If they are balanced then you are looking at watching games most likely to end in a draw or a possible 1-0; in fact I have played many games, often winning or losing 1-0; actually a 1-0 score seems to be a very regular result when the teams are fairly equally balanced. If you are the better team by far (or vice versa) then the score can go way beyond 0-0 (my first win was 5-0 for example).                                                 


There are many Managerial games and Football Strategy and Football Action games available for the PC and Game Consoles. This isn't the best, in my opinion, but it does fall higher up the mid end of the table, in Premier League Terms I'd say it was an 'Everton'.


© Chris Baylis 2011-2015