Ultimate Soccer Manager was introduced for the 98/99 season of football and was designed to simulate managing a football club (either all aspects or simply the football side of it). I has 7 different countries to choose from (England Italy Spain Scotland France Holland Germany), each with a wide selection of domestic leagues, cups and European competitions. The Game engine is basic but extremely effective, the transfer market is moderately realistic (loan deals, signing on fees etc.) and the player statistics are quite accurate with many different skills for each player.
Training on the game is also quite good, making players focus on specific skills individually and on other skills as a team. The game is very colourful in that each page has a screen of a manager’s office (for example) where you make transfers. You click different items in his room to do different things (computer to view emails, phone to make phone calls etc.) This makes the game more fun in that sense than its rival, Championship Manager, where the game is text based. You can fully change your stadium and see it when it is under construction and at the end of construction at this time this was a very unique thing, however today it is somewhat standard to managing games. The match engine
again is basic but effective, you can choose to either ‘Instant’ the match, playing the game for you instantly then showing you the results or see the match, showing you the game from a view of the stands, allowing you to see where your team excels and where it is more restricted. In this match mode, you can make all the tactical changes and manager could hope for, substitutions, formation changes , individual instructions, team instructions, how to play a certain set piece. The list goes on. It is possible to run all 7 nations’ leagues at once, making abroad transfers easier. The game has many difficulty settings, ranging from Grandmother to Ultimate manager. Each difficulty setting allows you to have a different starting budget, and dictates how easy transfers are to complete, how quickly your players improve with training etc. There are many added touches that push this game beyond CM2, such as the post-match newspaper columns (you can save your favourites into a scrapbook). Also the option to ‘bung’ teams is an original idea making the game more realistic (dare I say).
The game has obvious drawbacks however, the way you can instant a match and load the game back up until you win makes cheating easy and it seems quite difficult to get the sack. Making the objectives seem less demanding.
All in all, one of the best management sims ever made.