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Beyond brutal: why Speedball 2 was a violent delight for PC gamers

The year is 2100. The public has had enough of footballers running around kissing each other. They want a bit of blood and gore vaguely disguised as sport. With Speedball 2 they end up with more than they bargained for. Teams acquire points by half killing the opposition. As a sideline, they also get points for scoring goals and bouncing the ball off stars embedded in the walls.

Speedball 2 is the sequel to Speedball (funnily enough), and the changes to the game are subtle. It's more violent, and the game revolves around points as opposed to goals. Gamers with a pacifist nature should avoid Speedball 2 like the plague.

Objective

The objective of the game is simple. Get the ball past the keeper and into the opposition goal. If you can manage to cripple a couple of opposition players in the process, so much the better. There are also points to be gained by bouncing the ball off various objects around the pitch.

Training

Your team, Brutal Deluxe, consists of a bunch of good-for-nothings begging to be toughened up. Training costs money, so train the right people. First select 'G' in the gym menu, and toggle through the players. Hopefully, the team will not suffer any injuries, so it's a good idea to spend money on attack, mid-field and defensive players. Select those you want to train and either clicking on the 'All' button or select the training appropriate to that part of the team.

Playing

Action starts in the centre of the pitch, or 'pit', in which two members of each team line up. The ball is fired into the air and the players start to fight for possession. The player you have control over is governed by the computer. This player will be either the nearest to the ball or carrying. When the opposing team has possession, the ball can be regained in two ways.

First, the player can be tackled. This is achieved by pressing fire when one of your players is next to the ball carrier and heading in the same direction. The effect of the tackle is determined by the computer, which will either slide-tackle or knock the living daylights out of the other guy. Second, there's interception.

This happens in one of two says. Should you be lucky, the opposition player will just throw the ball at you and you'll gain possession. At other times, the opposing player will attempt an overhead pass. If the ball passes overhead, press the fire button and your player will jump in the air and, hopefully, grab it.

Points can be scored in four ways: scoring goals, bouncing the ball of stars on the side walls, bouncing the ball off in-field objects and injuring the opposition.

The value of each of these scoring methods can be doubled with the aid of score multipliers - two loops on either side of the pit. On the top of these loops are four lights: two for the red team and two for the green team. When the ball travels around a loop, one of the team lights turns on. When both are lit, all points are doubled. These lights are extinguished when the opposition gets the ball to travel through the loop.

Littering the pit are various objects that can enhance the players' performance. The effects of these vary, from automatically pulling the ball to the forward players, to freezing the opposition for a time. So if an object falls into the path of a player, try picking it up and the results may well be rather surprising.

Tactics

Running for the goal rarely gets the desired result, so technique is needed. Constantly passing the ball can prevent the opposition from tackling the ball carrier. This does have its problems though, as you will not always have another player shown on the screen. Throwing the ball in such cases may result in an interception.

Battles in the mid-field, where there is the greatest concentration of players, can prove the most rewarding. Loops and stars are located mid-field and it is advantageous to concentrate on these. Playing mid-field has the added advantage of preventing the other team getting too close to your goal mouth. So to get good tackling experience, start off by getting the ball round the hoops in a couple of times. Once both lights are on, go for the stars on either side and have a go at the in-field obstacles

With practice, angled shots using the walls can be mastered. Just to be flash, try bouncing the ball off the side wall into the goal. This is far easier said than done, but can be achieved if the opposition keeper is lured out of position.