Tag Archives: Review

Rediscovering Sensible World of Soccer

Back in the days when I actually had time to play computer games, I was a fan of three main genres: RPG, strategy, and FPS. The sports genre never really captured my interest, with maybe a couple of notable exceptions. One of these was Sensible World of Soccer.


This week I treated myself to playing Sensible World of Soccer ’96/97, which I had bought off GOG.com. Although this is not the classic I grew up playing (which was Sensible World of Soccer ’95/’96 European Championship Edition), it’s practically identical to it: the only noticeable difference is that some players have moved between teams.

Sensible World of Soccer (SWOS) is a game where you can both manage a football team and play football. It offers a great deal of flexibility. If you just want to play football, you can choose all sorts of friendly matches or tournaments to play. On the other hand, if you just want to manage your team, you can do that, and see only the game results. You can both manage the team and control it while playing football games. And you can even do neither: watch a game played by computer-controlled teams.



The management aspect is menu-driven. When you start a career (which lasts a maximum of four seasons), you are given control of every aspect of your team, including organising and training your team, buying and selling players, keeping track of the match schedule, watching the club’s profit/loss, goal statistics, and even watching the progress of various tournaments in the world.


Managing your team alone is complex enough to give the game a great deal of replayability. Each player has a position in which he’s comfortable (e.g. defence, attack, etc). Each player also has a financial value and a set of top skills (e.g. speed, shot power, ball control, etc) denoted by the yellow letters in the screenshot above. It’s not all as easy as it looks, however. A player may thrive or stagnate depending on his position, and his value may change accordingly. Financial value also does not always accurately reflect a player’s skill. So trying out different players in different position is key to forming a functional team.


Other than that, before and during each match, you can refine your team’s formation, allowing you to try different strategies to adapt to demanding situations.


The gameplay itself is incredible fun. You control one player at a time while all the rest move automatically. This is where the player skills pose a challenge: depending on whether your player is good at speed, ball control, passing, or whatever, you may opt to pass the ball, dribble past your opponents, or shoot the ball into the goal. Controlling the ball when shooting is a skill in itself; you usually use the arrows to indicate a direction (e.g. top-right), but you can actually use different key combinations after shooting to give the ball a curved effect or elevation, allowing you to score some pretty spectacular goals.


Once you go beyond the basic skills, you can get creative and have loads of fun, scoring in incredible ways and posing different challenges. For example, instead of just shooting into the goal, you can cross to another player and score with a tackle or header. You can score from a distance, or pass your way around the goalkeeper, and just run in with the ball. Or my personal favourite: get the goalkeeper and defenders to follow you, run the train around for a bit, and then just deposit the ball at the back of the net.


You might want to start with a pretty good team, such as Manchester United or Bayern Munich. But as you get more familiar with the game, it’s a fun challenge to start with a crappy team and buy better players. That allows you to pretty much dominate a league, and give your opponents a beating. For example, the above 12-0 in a typical 3-minute (real time) career game is a pretty nice feat, and a challenge to achieve.

SWOS is a simple game but gives you a world of opportunities to try out. Career games last 3 minutes of real time, but friendlies may be 3, 5, 7 or 10 minutes (you choose the setting). This means you can play the game for just a few minutes, or spend several hours at a time.

If you’re not put off by the dated graphics, and love some genuinely fantastic gameplay, give this game a go.

A 20-minute review of Windows 10 Technical Preview

A few weeks ago, Microsoft released the Windows 10 Technical Preview. Here is a very quick overview of what’s new.

Return of the Start Menu


Many of us sorely missed the start menu in Windows 8, and dreaded having to search for programs in a tiled mess. Windows 10 brings back the start menu, combining the traditional search menu functionality we used up to Windows 7 (including searching for programs) and the live tiles from Windows 8.

Windowed Store Apps

Windows Store apps introduced with Windows 8 (formerly known as “Metro” apps, but that name has since been dropped due to legal reasons) have typically taken up the entire screen, which was pretty dumb in cases such as the  music player which really only needs to show a few buttons for its UI.


That changes in Windows 10, where even the Windows Store apps can be hosted in their own window. This comes with its own limitations though – the minimum width and height of a windowed Windows Store app seem to be what you see in the screenshot above.

Improved Docking

In previous editions of Windows, you could drag a Window to the top edge of the screen to maximize it, or to a lateral edge to dock it to that half of the screen.


In Windows 10, you can now dock a window to a quarter of the screen by dragging it into a corner. You can also dock a window to the bottom half of the screen by dragging it towards the taskbar.


As you are performing this action, you will even get suggestions on how to fill the remaining space with windows that are already open.

The usefulness of this feature is limited by the fact that windows docked to a quarter of the screen are inevitably quite small, and it does not yet work perfectly – for instance, there is no way to dock the task manager as yet.

Virtual Desktops

I first experienced virtual desktops in Linux almost 10 years ago, and Microsoft are finally adding them to Windows. Better late than never, but still very much appreciated.


Virtual desktops are a great way to organize your windows according to different projects you may be working on. I never liked the grouping of taskbar icons by application: if you’re working on three different projects simultaneously, each one might have a Word document open, so it doesn’t really help to group all the Word documents. It’s much more convenient to switch desktop when moving from one project to another.

Improved Selection/Clipboarding in Command Prompt

The command prompt has finally become more usable. You can actually select portions of text normally rather than having to resort to block selection:


…and it is now much easier to copy and paste text in the command prompt. To copy, just select the portion of text you want and press Ctrl+C – the command prompt is intelligent enough to treat Ctrl+C as a clipboard copy if text is selected, or as a process termination signal if no text is selected. Ctrl+V works just fine for pasting text.

Setup Experience

Since the start menu has pretty much replaced the tiled start screen on desktops, it is quite possible to live without the “Metro” experience. However, although the Windows installation routine may have changed a little since Windows 8, the experience hasn’t: it still features an all-Metro interface, attempts to get you to sign into Windows with a Microsoft account by default, and at one point displays some dumb text with nauseating rotating background colours rather than reporting on progress.


Visual Improvements

I noticed that windows now have a soft shadow, which makes the ugly window layout from Windows 8 more bearable:



This was just a very quick overview of what has changed in Windows 10, after spending only a few minutes trying it out. I’m sure there are many other features I’ve missed, and this is pre-release software, so take this article for what it is.

My impression is that Windows 10 is nowhere near as horrible as Windows 8, but still does not live up to Windows 7 in terms of user experience.


  • Start menu instead of start screen
  • Virtual desktops
  • Docking
  • Windowed Windows Store apps
  • Improved command prompt
  • Visual improvements


  • “Metro” still dominates Windows installation
  • Start menu still has live tiles