One of the most underrated soccer simulation series of all time is back, arguably better yet than the venerable Championship Manager 2. USM 98 contains data for the seven biggest European Leagues: England, Scotland, Italy, France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands. That's over 400 clubs and around 12,000 individual players, all with appropriate skills and stats. Although very similar to Championship Manager in terms of epic scope and the number of options, it trumps it in one thing: a statistics editor. This allows for keeping the teams and players up to date, something that wasn't seen in other soccer management sims until much later.
In addition to new features that set the game apart from competitors, USM 98 boasts one of the most detailed and realistic transfer systems ever devised. Similar to business games such as Hollywood Mogul, the game requires you to negotiate with the club and the player's agent. You can loan, buy, or exchange players – and even offer extra cash if the player plays more than fifteen matches for example. You can have all six European leagues run at the same time, which opens up the possibility of not only player transfers but also management offers from clubs in Serie A. The game offers two play modes: management (running the entire club from advertising to pricing snacks), or coaching (football elements only). There are numerous other nice touches, such as the excellent tactics editor, post-match newspaper reports, and a much-improved interface that is more accessible for beginners than the esoteric one of CM2. Although there are a few shortfalls, such as the limited number of players for transfer, and the apparent softball difficulty – it seems you won't get sacked no matter how badly you are managing the team – USM 98 in all other respects is a game that equals or even *exceeds* CM2. If you are a soccer fan, this is a must-have.
Note: If you like the game but feel it is a bit outdated, I highly recommend the Mega Update pack: the most comprehensive update of the game roster for 2000/2001 season play. The 600KB file contains literally thousands of transfers, newcomers, and more – thumbs up to Lasse Hansen for his hard work :)
If someone knows where to download the Mega Pack, let us know!Reviewed by: Underdogs