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Football Manager 2008 Review

Many months have passed since I first wrote this review. But it is of no doubt that this review will probably apply for Football Manager 2009 too, which is due for release on November 14th. Sure there are different features and player lists in each yearly update, but I would still like to encourage you to read on to get an idea about what last year's title was like. If you missed out on Football Manager 2008 (FM08) first time round it's now available on Steam for your convenience, alas at double the price of online shops. So, how does this incarnation of the successful Football Manager franchise differ from previous versions?

 

If you're not yet familiar with the Football Manager concept, it really can be as simple as counting to 20. Upon starting a new game you create and design your own manager before picking your team of choice. You can then play it as straightforward or as in-depth as you like. At the core of the game is your squad of players, with a vast but controllable selection of stats, ranging from acceleration to finishing ability. Each stat is ranked from 1 to 20, where the latter is the most skilled. Basically all you need to do is allocate players to positions in your chosen formation and you are away. It's all nicely presented with an easily navigable interface, and there's a decent amount of help on hand to get you going.

With the basics covered, let's find out a little about the real strength of the game. Just about every aspect of a mangers role has been incorporated, from player interaction to the transfer market. Everything is done with such intricate detail and attention that you soon feel a little buzz when you realise your in charge, as if you were a manger in real life. To have the fans adore your latest acquisition is a particular joy, as is a well worked victory. You can toy around with media interactions, and even play mind games with fellow managers prior to a match. In all it's got enough features and depth to keep you occupied for months on end, with a possible addiction fight on your hands.

While all this is all very good, there is little in the way of quality new features to what is effectively a yearly update. Sure you can now alter pitch dimensions and enjoy an improved award system, but none of this makes a real difference. The only reason I can see someone upgrading to this from 2007 is for the most up to date player transfers, but even that is now spoiled the most recent transfer windows. At least load times are now pleasantly swift, even when your six seasons down the road. If you do decide to indulge yourself with this update, you are still unlikely to complain until 2am in the morning, when you suddenly realise you have work/school in a few hours.

One particular new feature which came to my attention is the "improved" board and fan confidence system, which for me has ended up feeling like a step backwards. As lower league Darlington I played Premiership team Newcastle away in the FA Cup, which I subsequently lost 4-0. The fans and board wouldn't forgive me for this, even after several months, yet in real life such a result would be deemed acceptable. Just one little irrelevant fault and the confidence will slip, with little consideration given to the things you do right. Frustrating to say the least, but with all other factors considered it becomes more of a nuisance than a game breaking crisis.

With the general gameplay dealt with, I have to move to the obvious fact that this game is somewhat lacklustre in the visual and sound departments. The match engine plays excellently well, but being 2D means it can become quite tedious to look at for hours on end. Although that said you do eventually become quite attached to the little dots running around. The only sound in the game is the crowd noises, and without meaning to pun it's nothing to shout about either. If the developers have a whole year to make changes, it would be nice to see a 3D engine be developed, and some truly innovative sound effects where possible.

The interface however does look fresh, and player photos are available for all Championship teams and below. New to this version is a "FaceGen" system, which randomly generates faces for new and unknown players for the coming seasons. Not exactly realistic looking, but it is a step in the right direction. However, those taking to the Premiership or similar will find a load of blank spaces where the players' portrait should be. It's a shame they don't have the rights for these player images to make things a little more personal, and without a massive sack of cash I doubt they will be able to do anything to change this.

Overall, if you're into football, management, and the year 2008, this comes highly recommended. If you owned FM07 then a little more consideration needs to be taken into account. There is little new to get excited about, but if you can't live without football then you won't be disappointed with this purchase. While there is always going to be much frustration with a game of this type, there is much fun and ultimately an addiction to be had. The definitive database of clubs, player's et al, along with the accumulative experience of the series makes this the most accomplished football management game on the market.

8.00/10 8

Football Manager 2008 (Reviewed on Windows)

This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.

Overall, if you're into football, management, and the year 2008, this comes highly recommended. If you owned FM07 then a little more consideration needs to be taken into account. There is little new to get excited about, but if you can't live without football then you won't be disappointed with this purchase. While there is always going to be much frustration with a game of this type, there is much fun and ultimately an addiction to be had. The definitive database of clubs, player's et al, along with the accumulative experience of the series makes this the most accomplished football management game on the market.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
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