Football Manager 2008 Reader Review
The Football Manager games have been the cream of management sims for many years now. Since Championship Manager on the Amiga, countless features have been added; the game has been rebuilt from the ground up, tweaked and titivated � every year wiping the floor with its competitors. With its immense depth and eye for every tiny detail you can imagine, it has a scary ability to turn your valuable days into curtains-drawn, back-crippling, eye-reddening blurs. Naturally this year�s update is more of the same, but are Sports Interactive actually making it too complex?
In the olden days (circa 1997), Championship Manager as it was then known, was in our opinion in its absolute prime. It was deep and tactical, but it hadn�t gone overboard yet. You could sit down for a quick match or two and emerge a week later looking like a freed hostage. It was fantastic. Every year since then, SI have added more and more to the game, each time improving on the wonderful formula we all love. This year, however, we think they may be approaching the limit. Football Manager 2008 is wonderful, don�t get us wrong. It�s every bit as good as, nay, better than all of its predecessors. And it�s a damned sight better than any of its competition. But we�re veterans of the series.
The game is so complicated now that a little Microsoft Word style helper pops up in the corner when you play for the first time. Without this, newcomers would be absolutely stuck. Hell, we�re seasoned players and we find it all a little overwhelming at times. Simply readying your team for a match and playing one seems to take twice as long as it used to because of all the options you have to tinker with. Of course, this is ace. We love tinkering with footbally stuff. But it can be a little tiresome, especially when our favourite management games of all time (the aforementioned circa 1997 games) were considerably simpler.
There are people who will disagree with us here. A great many players of the series demanded these extra options, and SI � always a development team who listen to their fans � must be commended for making a game with such a ridiculously vast depth. But we�d like to see a �lite� version of the game next year, perhaps an option before you begin a management career to turn off the fine detail. This would make it easier for newcomers, and it would also please the folk who liked the older games so much.
Now this all sounds really negative, but we�re not intending to be. We love Football Manager 2008. It is undoubtedly the best version to date and it definitely warrants a purchase. It would be impossible to list all of the additions and changes made for this version without running out of space, but there�s nothing we don�t like. You can even change the size of your pitch now at the start of a season � and what�s more it actually affects the way you should arrange your tactics. This is the sort of detail you could only find in a Football Manager game.
There are a couple of bad points. First of all, even on a mega-PC and playing with a small database of players, the loading times are a little bit lengthy. Secondly, we found the GUI to be a little cumbersome. It�s not because SI have changed it around a lot or messed it up, but now with so many options and things to do, it could do with a major revamp to place everything in a more easily accessible location. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it�s all getting a little bit complicated.
Overall, Football Manager 2008 is without a shadow of a doubt the best football management game available. It�s the same game it has always been, with more features. We just hope that next year SI make it a little bit less complicated for new players and veterans alike. The series is dangerously close to alienating everyone but the hardcore.