Written by: Rik

Date posted: June 5, 2016

Plenty of space for the Coventry number 3 to run into.

Plenty of space for the Coventry number 3 to run into.

There’s nothing wrong with taking inspiration from the leading games in the genre, but Football Glory is a lot more directly ‘inspired’ by Sensible Soccer than, say, Sensible was by Kick Off 2 or any other top down football game. To the untrained eye, the two look virtually identical, particularly in play, and indeed the game was briefly pulled from the shelves after a threat of legal action.

Developers Croteam, of Serious Sam and – latterly – The Talos Principle fame [look at him, trying to pretend he knows what that is – FFG reader] apparently then released the game as freeware, although if that is true I can’t find that version anywhere, and of the two downloads I sourced, neither had the copy protection removed, so if you want to play you’ll need a scan of the manual.

Football Glory is probably best known for being a Sensible Soccer clone, and for the addition of a number of amusing interludes, including streakers, dogs and peace protesters on the pitch, ridiculous goal celebration animations, and interaction with the referee, including the ability to chase him after being shown a red card. These are, in fairness, pretty funny, and add a bit of humour and character to proceedings in a way that makes you wonder why Sensible didn’t come up with it themselves: for all the cartoony nature of its graphics, Sensible Soccer always seemed to take itself very seriously. If you don’t find them funny, or they get on your nerves after a while, there is an option to turn them off.

Boo! Boo! Booooooo! (etc.)

Boo! Boo! Booooooo! (etc.)

Sticking to the Sensible Soccer comparisons, there are a few other good things: goalkeepers, always so static in Sensi, can move with the ball in hand, and even roll it on the ground and dribble out of the area, Bruce Grobbelaar style (ask your Dad). Outfield players also seem to have more luck keeping the ball under control and you have a bit more time on the ball, while close range finishing is a bit more possible than in Sensible Soccer, in which the most reliable methods of scoring come from outside the penalty area. (Although at times it’s almost too possible here, and in this regard Football Glory veers closer to Sensible Soccer ’98, in that toe punting it in from a few yards seems almost guaranteed to bring you a goal).

Initially, I was lulled into thinking Football Glory might be a more palatable version of Sensible Soccer, with a more considered pace, and opportunities to play a slightly more refined brand of football. But it slowly became apparent that the game has fairly major problems, with even features I had considered plus points unravelling before my eyes. For example: you get more time on the ball because the formations are all far too spread out and both your own players and the opposition’s tend to scatter away from the man in possession. The passing itself is oddly powerful and direct, and any attempt at recreating the rhythmical movement of the ball between players from Sensible Soccer soon comes undone.

That, combined with the more forgiving dribbling model, makes passing less necessary, and indeed, simply running towards goal and shooting, where possible, seems to be the most effective strategy. I was however unable to identify a reliable method of defending, and even with 1 minute halves, every game was a veritable goalfest. The opposition are occasionally crap but mostly fairly ruthless: in a league season, I won a handful of games with relative ease while being soundly thrashed in most of the rest. (On the other hand, I did manage to later win the Champions’ League, albeit with the aid of some odd interpretations of the away goals rule).

I don’t know who has the ball, or why those three players are trying to leave the field.

I don’t know who has the ball, or why those three players are trying to leave the field.

Although like many games of the era, Football Glory uses a one-button control scheme, the manual outlines a number of possible special moves, invoked using deft combinations of button and direction presses, including one-twos, backheels and overhead kicks. There’s also a feature known as ‘Power Attack’, which gives each player a once-per-game opportunity for a speed boost with a double tap of a direction press. Sadly, while Football Glory is certainly slower than the DOS version of Sensible Soccer, that’s still not slow enough to make effective use of these moves, particularly with the level of joypad/keyboard precision required.

On top of the frustrations associated with the general gameplay (and losing a lot), there are a number of little oddities which also grate. Your formation changes randomly from game to game, and if you’re using a joypad, you’ll need to remember to select that as your control method for each match. If you don’t remember to check and change each time, you could be heading onto the pitch trying to win with 6 in midfield and using keyboard controls. (The squads and starting lineups, meanwhile, are reasonably accurate, but still a step back from Sensi).

You also have to choose your kit before seeing what the opposition are wearing, and sometimes a clash is unavoidable. Delving into the edit mode in an attempt to resolve these issues proves unsuccessful, with the game resetting the kits to the default ones as soon as you save and re-load a competition. Like Sensible Soccer, the player numbers on the formation screen don’t match the ones that appear above their heads in-game, and you strongly suspect that players are possible playing in the wrong positions (not that it seems to matter massively). It’s difficult to tell for sure, though, because, unlike in Sensi, there’s no variation in hair or skin colour – all the players look exactly the same.

A big final brings additional 2D glitz.

A big final brings additional 2D glitz.

Finally, in a bastard move that was probably quite funny, and effective, at the time, but not so fun when you’re forced to squint at a scan of an old manual, the game doesn’t give you a hint that you’ve entered the wrong copy protection code until you’ve conceded or scored a goal in your first game, at which point the match ends in a humiliating loss for your team. (Which it often did anyway, I just prefer to actually play a match before losing it).

My memory was that Football Glory was actually fairly well received at the time, but I can’t find much evidence to support that now, with most seeming to see through its shtick and noting its similarity – and inferiority – to Sensible Soccer. For someone who never had much fondness for Sensi, it’s interesting for a while, but not especially entertaining: a bit like listening to a not very good cover of a song you didn’t like in the first place.