As the World Cup looms, games developers prepare to pounce: football is poised to take the computer games world by storm. First to take a shot is Ultimate Soccer Manager '98.

As is standard with management simulation games, USM98 lets you buy and sell players, choose tactics, and generally play out the role of the gaffer at a normal football club... but with a twist. Not only can you build your stands, set the prices of your merchandise, choose your sponsors and even read about your performances in the daily newspaper, you can also place bets on your matches, bribe other teams to lose to you, or even bung a club into selling you a player.

But don't get too excited yet. In previous versions of USM, the game left us unsatisfied with the transfer system, as even Fulham could sign Del Piero, and winning was just a matter of pressing the "instant result" function. Thankfully, USM98 has cleared up these problems. You have the option of watching your team play, and you can choose from a wide range of teams in England, France, Germany, Scotland, Italy or Spain, as well as being able to invent your own tactics to put to the test against up to eight of your friends.

However, the game still lacks the one quality that could make it a truly fantastic game... addiction. In play, it is very easy to lose patience, and as a result the game has limited appeal.

Sadly therefore, despite its best efforts, USM98 falls just short of being a complete success. On release, pounds 34.99

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