Ryan Giggs (represented my a microscopic, cartoony little sprite) lofts the ball diagonally across the pitch with some immense dip and curl as you diagonally pull back your joystick ... You know your formation well and you are certain your newest signing, big Niall Quinn (represented by exactly the same sprite) will be in the right place at the right time.
You can't possibly wipe the smug grin off your face as he plants a diving header back across the goalkeeper and into the top corner of the net! Incidentally, the keeper is again represented by exactly the same sprite with slightly lighter hair. This scenario sums Sensible World of Soccer up perfectly - the most simplistic of presentation, complimented by fast paced, mega-satisfying gameplay ... and before you ask, I have no earthly idea why I signed Niall Quinn.

Back in the day when you booted up your slow, clunky PC and played Championship Manager, you always thought to yourself - 'wouldn't it be great if you could play the matches yourself'. Sadly, the player was forced to watch a boring text commentary of the match and was reduced to tears as your striker 'rounds the goalkeeper' ... 'But somehow misses' in the last minute of the FA Cup final. Keeping this in mind, can you imagine the excitement when Sensible Software's player / management combo was announced to the masses? Every football fanatic waited with bated breath when they popped the floppy disk into their Amiga, hoping that this game would deliver the perfect mixture of management and gameplay simulation! Thankfully, while not perfect, Sensible World of Soccer ticked most of the boxes (even the use of the ultra-offensive 'soccer' word in the title didn't hamper the positive reception this game received!).

While the management side of the game was a far cry from the complexity of Championship Manager, there was still enough depth to keep the player invested. However, Once the action spilled onto the pitch, that's where this game really gave you your money's worth! The graphics were beyond simple (think Cannon Fodder in football strips ... If that means nothing to you just Google the screen shots as that's the best description I can come up with!). The player sprites were pretty much identical, with just the hair and skin colour giving them a pinch of individuality as you squinted at the tiny men from a near-overhead camera view.
Were SWOS really earned its stripes however, was through it's super-slick, instinctive gameplay. The passing and ball control couldn't compare to the level of the recent Pro Evolution Soccer series, but was far more enjoyable than any football game from it's era in our humble opinion. Absorbing pressure from the opposition team and responding with a rapid counter attack, resulting in a cool, curling finish from my new star striker was unbelievably satisfying and really made me feel like a world beater (even though I was losing 3-0 to Luton Town at the time).

Previous instalments of the Sensible Soccer series used identical speed, movement and control for every footballer, resulting in a lack of individuality when controlling the little sprite. SWOS introduced individual stats for each player (based off their real life counterparts), so you definitely needed to be smart when you put your squad together as Vinny Jones no longer had exactly the same alertness and shot accuracy as Alan Shearer! This added a great tactical feel to the game and although this feature is expected in the modern football game, it was really ahead of it's time when SWOS hit the shelves.
If you weren't a fan of the action on the pitch but still fancied yourself as the next Fergie, there was also the option to delve into the club management side of things and simply view the results and stats. However, I'm not convinced that there is quite enough depth in this area of the game to make this a fully satisfying experience. The back bone of this game is definitely the frantic, fun gameplay and satisfying array of goals you can enjoy (or despair over) time and time again!

Overall, when you consider the technical limitations of the mid-nineties, Sensible World of Soccer was a very impressive game which could literally pass away an entire weekend (and is definitely the reason behind a lot of 'the dog ate my homework' excuses on those depressing school Mondays). While some would argue that the gameplay was rivaled by other games such as the Kick Off series, it's hard to think of a more detailed overall experience during those days that allowed you to show off both your playing and management skills!

The Good
- Enjoyable, slick, frantic gameplay
- One of the first management games which enabled you to play the matches too
- Challenging and time consuming (in a good way)

The Bad
- While the gameplay is fun, it's hardly realistic
- Managerial side of the game could be a bit more detailed 

How does it hold up to today's standards?
Pro-Evolution Soccer and Fifa completely blitz this game in every area ... But they never had the technical limitations that Sensible Software did. If you played this game today, it would still be a highly enjoyable experience.

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8.jpgPlease note: Our review scores are based on various factors
such as nostalgia, technical limitations of the time and most
importantly, the reviewer's personal opinion.
In other words, don't take these scores as an 'expert's view',
take them for what they are ... a gaming fan's personal perspective!