Football Manager 2006 Reader Review
First of all this review comes off a little negative, and I want to stress that the game is magic. I've not played a game this intensely on the PSP, nowhere near it. Lumines on some long haul flights might get close, but that is it. I want more, I want to duck into the work toilets and keep going. But I can't. It has its faults, but these are minor in the grand scheme of this game.
Right, so into the review. Here is some background that you need to know to appreciate the review:
I love the Football Manager series, and the Championship Manager series up to about CM 01/02. Never got into 02/03, was so wound up in an epic 01/02 game that I never had the time to buy it.
I bought a PSP solely for this game. I never buy hardware on release, but when in New York August 05, and it was sitting there all nice and pretty at a much lower price than the mooted UK release price, I couldn't resist. I've bought other games, but this is what I have been waiting for.
I could bore you with my usual almost failed uni (true, failed some units directly because of the game), almost lost girlfriend (true) almost lost wife (true) stories, but wont go further than I have spent many nights until 4am playing various forms of the game. I love it, I hate it, I can't be without it.
I'm about a season and a bit in with the PSP after picking the game up last Thursday. I go slow, so that is some serious playing time there.
Being an old hand at how these games work, it was great to see that it took me no time at all to get to grips with the interface. Some minor changes here and there, but you could figure out what to do pretty easily. Some bits took a while to sink in. I kept trying to release my best players instead of offering a new contract - luckily never succeeded in that. I did have to reach for the manual when my usual late December bosman signing frenzy was starting to kick off. I was beaten to the deal a few times as I kept offering £0 instead of approaching the player (different button you see).
No staff and finances to really worry about made that side of the game pretty much disappear, which I use to enjoy. No 2d engine, but I was never a big fan of that, text commentary is fine by me, so long as it is done well.
So, with no 2d view, the commentary has to be really good, like the games of old, right? I think they have got this almost right, but frustratingly not 100% spot on. The commentary is descriptive, but some minor incidents irritate you. Some of this could be just me and my tactics, but there are instances when a player beats the same player 3 or 4 times in a row. I play as Fulham, and in one instance, the commentary went along the lines of:
Reyes runs at Bocanegra and beats him Reyes runs on Reyes jinks past Bocanegra Reyes continues with his run Reyes uses his skill to go past Bocanegra Reyes show Bocanegra a clean set of heels
This commentary sequence was all in a row. Whilst Reyes dancing around Bocanegra is quite plausible, in a real game I doubt he'd go back 4 times to show Carlos that he is not up to Premiership football as a left back.
Sometimes the commentary comes from nowhere. Happily watching the time ticking by, approaching a grafting but deserved 0-0 draw, I get the first line of commentary "Penalty". What? What happened, who fouled the opposition player in the box? Where did he come from, how could my tactics have countered this? Nope, that is all I am given. I also have instances when 2 of my players (annoyingly, usually strikers) sit on the edge of the box passing it back and forth (or so it seems). I don't want to sound too negative though, as the game overall is a cracking effort.
So by now you are thinking that I hate the game. Quite the contrary. As with any CM/FM game by SI games, the first version is often not the best. I am not a tech-ie person, so no idea if patches can be downloaded for a PSP game. I hope they are, as the above commentary glitches, are the only negative aspect of the game at the moment. I do have 12 of my 35 players injured at the moment, which seems odd, but I believe I am almost alone on that one, reading the forums on SI.
I've played for hours. On the toilet. On the plane. On the couch whilst my wife watches "America's next top model". On the tube to work. In bed. Walking down the street.
The good (or bad if my wife is reading) news is that it is addictive as ever. Sure it is missing quite sizeable chunks of the game play, like staff, international games, finances, enhanced press interaction, 35 max squad, 2d matches, and many other little bits of the game that you forgot you loved and treasured. But I find myself willing to allow that to go purely because it is portable. There was no way you were going to get it all in to that little UMD disc, and when SI decided what had to be cut and what could stay I think they got it pretty much spot on. Lots of players, with immense amounts of detail is synonyms with a CM/FM game. Great tactics, training is also important. These are all here.
If the commentary was spot on, it would be a 9, easily, but it does seem to take a little of the shine off when you concede a last minute penalty, and have no idea what happened, except some cocky opponent putting the resulting spot kick past my keeper again (Not one penalty from either team missed in a season and a half yet as well).
In summary, if you've played this game before, you should like this, a lot. If you need a quick fix here and there, this is it. I've often found myself punching the bed in defeat, or the air in victory - which for me is what the CM/FM series is all about. You are engrossed in the game, you want to win, you want to be the best. I often gauge a good PSP game or book on how close I am to missing my tube stop because I am so engrossed in the game/book. FM Handheld has got me twice in five tube journeys. Once I was 3 stops past my stop.....enough said.
8 / 10