Review by Adhoc (2001-03-24)
Premier Manager 2 is a nice football manager game with many different features. Up to two players can select a team which is always starting in Englands lowest division, the Conference League. From here you have to battle your way up or you could also choose to coach another, higher placed team.
You can find all the important aspect of this genre: A transfer list to buy and sell players, building various improvements to your stadium, finding sponsors and lots more. A lot of emphasis lies on the management of your personnel. You have to employ a headcoach for everyday training, special coaches for the respective positions, a physio, a scout and a youth coach. Their quality has a big effect on your team's effort. Especially the youth coach can provide you with 1st class rookie players.
There are also many tactical decisions to take. Formation and style of passing and tackling are quite usual, but you can also give each player individual orders for man covering and place them individually on the field at certain ball positions. Good idea but unfortunately this doesn't have too much influence on the match outcome.
Your most important tool is the telephone. Here you can give out your orders for your staff, for example setting up individual training routines for each player or asking your youth coach whether any young prospects are available.
The match itself isn't animated but rather you see some kind of a scoreboard with lots of interesting stats like time of possession of the ball and shots on goal. After the match you can view your faxing device for important news like transfers and sacks which give you the opportunity to apply for this job.
This all looks very interesting but there are some points which prevent me from giving the game a higher rating. First and foremost it's too easy. After some seasons building up your team and finding a good staff it's almost a piece of cake to promote into the Premier League and win everything at hand. Second it's sad that you cannot choose from which league to start. And last but not least the match results are sometimes questionable. Especially that most goals are scored by your number 9 striker which quite often will end up with 50+ goals per season.
But nevertheless it's worth a look for football fans because it'll bring many hours of fun for sure.
Review by NetDanzr (2006-06-22)
Probably the best game of the Premier Manager trilogy by Gremlin Graphics, the second part has combined some in-depth tactical management with a much improved business model and player handling. As in the first part, you will start out as the manager of a Conference League team of your choice, and will work your way up to the top. In addition to selecting a squad of players for each match and setting the team's strategy, you will have to take care of your supporting staff, assign training, buy insurance, negotiate contracts and more.
The game has three main parts – player management, club management and match management. Player management has seen much improvement from the first game. Whereas Premier Manager I offered little more than assigning different players different positions and training them, here the management model is much more complex.
First of all, your players' contracts are not indefinite, so you will have to renegotiate them from time to time. To make matters more interesting, players will often refuse your deals, in a rather realistic matter – while old players will be happy to stay with the club for an additional 5 years, young players will often refuse any contracts that are longer than one year.
Once your team is all signed-up, you will move to the next area – insurance and training. You will be able to pay for several levels of insurance – the first level would pay only the player's wages while he is injured, the other levels would pay extra. Training is available in the four main skills that the game adopted from the first game – handling, tackling, assign and shooting. What makes this game so unique, however, is the morale system. Players tend to play better with higher morale, and worse with a low morale. In order to keep players happy, you will need to have them play often, and sometimes even pay them extra bonuses, which, however, may decrease the morale of other players.
The club management part consists of hiring extra staff, taking care of finances, signing up sponsors and expanding your stadium. Extra staff has been greatly improved from the last game. In addition to the main coach, you can now hire specialist coaches for each skill, and, most importantly, each staff member comes with his own rating, which determines his salary and his efficiency. Finances in this game are fairly important, but I have yet to run low; the business model is very player-friendly and should not inhibit anybody. The sponsor system has experienced an improvement from the first game. The interface is simpler, and sponsors are now willing to sign up for a weekly fee, instead of upfront money, which helps to keep a balanced budget. The stadium can also expand much better tan before, with a simpler interface and each of the four sections able to be expanded independently of each other.
Match management has seen the most improvements from the first game. After you put together your squad and select your formation, you will be able so select from several types of play, and issue detailed orders for your defense, midfield and offense, separately. The mach screen is probably the most ergonomic in any football management game: the top half of the screen contains all the match data, while the bottom half shows the most exciting moments (and is largely useless for my the player's purposes). The centerpiece of the top half is a ball, on a horizontal bar that represents the field. The ball moves up and down the field, indicating where the action takes place at the moment. However, the important data is right underneath the bar - a realtime statistic of team possession, passes, tackles and shots. This allows you to adjust your game strategy at any point during the game. In addition, you will get a detailed text description of every action, and at any point you will be able to stop the game and check the detailed statistics of each of your players.
I must admit that I absolutely love the game. In a very small amount of hard drive space, Premier Manager II manages to combine a rather in-depth tactical simulation, with a robust business model, yet balance it in a way that keeps me glued to the screen for days. However, the game is not without problems. Probably the biggest problem, which is inherent to most sports management simulations, is a weak memory management system. Sooner or later, you will run out of memory, and even restoring old saved games doesn't help. On some computer systems, this can render the game completely unplayable; there was one where the game stopped working after only four games and one player transfer. On other systems, you will be able to get several seasons out of the game. The other problem is the relative ease the player has winning the game. For every strategy there is a counter-strategy, but this does not work both ways. As soon as you figure out the proper combinations, you will be able to win games against much stronger opponents; in fact, I always win the League Cup my first season, against teams like Manchester United and Arsenal.
Overall, Premier Manager II is a must-try game. If there wasn't that pesky memory management problem, this game would still grace my hard drive, along with games like Civilization and Dungeon Master.