Football games on the Dreamcast haven't been all that impressive so far, and when Sega first announced that they were bringing Smilebit's 90 Minutes to the Dreamcast, it was as if the machine had finally been called up to play in that all important World Cup team - let's not forget that it was Sega Dreamcast that was the kit sponsor of a number of European club teams shirts, so it'd not be unexpected for there to be a decent footy game on the console, surely?
Things start off pretty well, and there's a huge selection of teams to choose from, with English, Italian, French, German and Spanish league clubs all available, plus national teams. There's also all the player names, so you're not going to end up with name-a-likes playing for your team.
Some of the graphics are really nice, with fairly detailed players and stadiums - even thought the crowds are rather bland and are simply flat graphics. There's also quite a lot of jaggy lines on the pitch, and other small annoyances which let the presentation down.
Commentary is by Alan Parry (If you've ever listened to the football on talkSPORT then you'll know his voice well) but sadly Alan Parry on 90 Minutes doesn't sound half as professional as when he commentates on a normal game of football.
The commentary is extremely slow to remark on events such as goals being scored, players being pulled down, and astonishing tackles. Parry's voice isn't consistent when it comes to the intonation and excitement, and worst of all is that it's very bitty and un-thought through with sentences made up of words which really don't go together - it's almost as if Alan Parry has forgotten how to speak English properly, with crazy phrases uttered such as "the second half is in, is coming to the 45 minutes" and "the time is, the first half is in, has gone past, fifteen minutes" - erm..?
Where the commentary and overall presentation does redeem itself though is with the international matches - if you pick England, Alan Parry will mention that there's a new international manager. You also get to hear the national anthems played whilst the players are lined up before the match. However it appears that some national teams have no info about them.. surely a comment about France being the current World Cup champions would be made?
Replays are also really quite poor - there's no way to watch it in slow motion, no moving the camera, no zooming in on the goal to see how lucky you were when the ball bounced off the cross bar and just shaved over the line. How Smilebit could have even considered to not put a decent replay system in to the game seems unbelievable.
One of the most notable plus points to the game is when you take a freekick - you're given the choice of three players, and despite not looking much more than clever in single player mode, it really comes in to it's own in multiplayer as it means you can dummy your human opponent as they won't know which player is about to take the freekick.
The artificial intelligence of computer players is also pretty astoundingly bad - quite often you'll see them booting the ball over the line giving you a corner kick when there was no way that a real player would do the same. They also seem to be footballing superstars one moment, and as if they've forgotten that they're playing a game of football the next, coming to a complete standstill as you go past them.
Some fairly fast paced games are possible if you go in to the options and put the ball speed up to the fastest, and it's not all bad, but like many football games across all formats, they're never quite as good as they could be - sadly the Dreamcast has never received that special football title which it really should have - 90 Minutes is good, but not quite up to the standard you've come to expect.
We did have a pre-production review version of the game, and it's always possible that there's been some bugs ironed out for the release, but there's quite a few to iron out, especially the commentary and the iffy AI of the computer players. If you're a football fan in need of a new game for your DC then it's worth a look, otherwise you might be wise to save your money for one of the other Dreamcast titles due for release by Sega over the next few weeks.Overall score: 5 out of 10
Recommended Price: £29.99
Available: October 26th 2001Buy 90 Minutes for the Dreamcast from Amazon.co.uk