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In Review: Football Manager 2005

Filed: Thursday, 4th November 2004
By: Rio B

Sports Interactive (Sega)
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Sports Interactive have long been the second single most cause for days off sick the nation has known. Creators of the Championship Manager series they have, since the early Amiga days, developed a game that is highly addictive and over the years has become increasingly in-depth and intricate.

Having split from partners Eidos and lost the Championship Manager franchise name, they have teamed up with Sega to bring us Football Manager 2005 (Kevin Toms, must be turning in his beard, knowing he could have made a few quid here).

The game engine is the same as before (CM 03/04) but has been overhauled, tweaked and backed by a huge team of trusty researchers improved to bring the most comprehensive managerial simulation money can buy.

Gameplay remains familiar, but itís the attention to the little things that makes this better than ever. The use of genuine club kits and badges (well for the Championship and below, Iím presuming the la-di-dah Premiership boys wanted too much cash) is a nice touch. Visually itís much easier on the eye.

Scouting has been enhanced so instead of just searching regions, countries or tournaments you can actively search out players by age and position. So if you want to build for the future and look for the best young left back in Sweden then Svenís your uncle.

Thereís more interaction with the media, which I think is a welcome touch. Tactically thereís more control over your players. Runs, passes etc. can be better defined. Corners to be targeted to a certain area or the best header of the ball. All in all youíre getting further into the mindset of being a complete manager. The 2D overhead view of games introduced in the last version of CM remains and has had a minor overhaul

Perhaps the feature Iím most looking forward to utilising is the Ďmanagerial mind gamesí. You can praise or criticise other managers, create mutual admiration or go for it full tilt a la Fergie and Wenger. Iím at an early stage in my game at the moment but Dennis Wise is on my list of targets already.

As ever Iím in control of my beloved West Ham. Playing-wise weíre completely up to date. Powell and Davenport however arenít on loan as short-term loans werenít included by the researchers. The only faults I can readily spot are that Adam Nowland is listed as a striker whilst Hayden Mullins is solely down as a sweeper/centre half. I shall be writing a stern letter of complaint to the West Ham researcher about these two points. Other than that only the absence of Kevin Keen from the coaching staff is a strange if minor error.

The game loaded surprisingly quickly on a PC heavily laden with music and other games. Iím running with just the English league (from Premiership down the Conferences North and South) in detail and a normal player database. The speed is much the same as previous versions, basically run at what your machine can handle and on the leagues you really need, the more depth you have the more sluggish the response. An initial three hour play, including installation, set up, setting up tactics, scouting, contract negotiations and transfer bids saw me get through a 6 game pre-season plus 2 league games.

The only faults I can spot game wise are minor. The new positioning of various options takes a bit of getting used to, but Iím sure by next week will have become second nature. In the game mode the 2D view very occasionally seems to pause for a couple of seconds. This I am reliably informed is easily rectified by caching the sound. Minor details really, all things considered.

Overall the guys from Sports Interactive have done us proud once more. Football Manager 2005 is a superb effort.

And I can feel a couple of dayís flu leave impending.

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