FIFA Manager 08

FIFA Manager 08

FIFA Manager 08

Is it a special one?

For the past few years, the FIFA Manager series has resembled the kind of big spending underachievers so common in the Premiership, a Newcastle United to Football Manager's Chelsea, tipped pre-season by its owners for greatness, then utterly underachieving when the tackles start flying in earnest. However, while this year's footy management crown once again looks to be heading to Sports Interactive's east London offices, the contest isn't quite so one-sided as in previous seasons.

FIFA Manager has often been maligned for being glitz over substance. It's an assertion which, once you've spent some time delving into FIFA Manager 08's depth and detail, you realise is somewhat erroneous this year. While it may fail to emulate the staggering realism and reach the heady heights of Football Manager 2008, it certainly possesses more than enough merit to be considered a credible alternative.

Just like Tottenham's Premiership campaign, things get off to a shaky start. A collection of under-explained customisation menus bereft of tooltips leave you initially baffled and overwhelmed, while many of the in-game screens have been poorly laid out. Before you begin your first day in charge, you can pick and choose your exact level of involvement in day-to-day club management. I say club rather than team management, because unlike many of its rivals - that simply allow you to take control of team affairs - you can opt to oversee every facet of your club, including ticket prices, supporter days and even the renovation of your stadium with an editor that's admittedly more virtual Lego than the powerful tool it claims to be.

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