As Championship Manager (and soon-to-be Football Manager) die-hards probably already know, developer Sports Interactive has delayed the launch of its Football Manager magazine until the end of May, in order to ensure that the coverdisk and mag have enough decent info to justify the £5.49 asking price.
Never mind though, because in the meantime the developer and the mag's publisher have decided to make 19 pages that were already written available for free in PDF format, downloadable from SIGames.com. For fans of Championship/Football Manager, it's a feast of new information, and the free pages also include a massive preview of Eastside Hockey Manager. What's more, all the info is exclusive to this splurge - the full mag will be completely different. Both games should be published by Sega Europe this year.
The preview of EHM takes top billing, dealing with its origins as a freeware game and its subsequent transformation into the second biggest project at one of probably world's best developer of sports management titles, details of the match engines, tactics, and how various aspects of the world of hockey were implemented. Even to our eyes (eyes which rarely rest upon hockey in any way, shape or form) it's an interesting piece, and we'd encourage you to check it out.
But, of course, the real meat is new information on Football Manager 2005, SI's first footy management title since it severed ties with publisher Eidos Interactive and abandoned the rights to the Championship Manager name. The preview deals with everything from the interface (designer Sam Deane lists Mac OS X amongst his influences) and the increased media interaction and transfer dealings (including the addition of agents), to the backroom shenanigans and the growth of the SI database - arguably the developer's biggest weapon in the fight to regain control of the footy management market it conquered so thoroughly under the ChampMan banner.
The 19-page freebie also includes an interview with Tonton Zola Moukok ("the greatest footballer the world has never seen", and star of many a top CM team) and interviews with rising stars Darren Bent and Darren Ambrose, focusing on how they feel about their ratings in the game's database.
All in all, it's the perfect way to pass some of the hours between now and the release of the 100-page Football Manager magazine (complete with well-stocked coverdisk) at the end of next month. Full details of issue one will apparently be announced at the beginning of May or thereabouts, and if you're really keen you can always pre-order a copy from Gameplay here. Back of the net.