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Football Manager 2008

I have seen improvements.

Other solid new features include refinements to transfer negotiations, which allow you greater room for manoeuvre when haggling for new players, a Transfer Centre where all negotiations can be easily monitored, more detailed squad reports and an improved calendar view to keep track of forthcoming games - particularly handy if you subscribe to the Rafa Benitez school of early season over-rotation.

These myriad new additions go towards making an already unparalleled football management experience even more involving. What's more, the match engine is still a dream to watch, with full-length games stunningly lifelike and highlights thrilling. You have the option to manage in leagues from over fifty countries, with each team recreated in intricate detail, ensuring that this is the nearest you can currently come to managing your favourite team without getting mud on your shoes.

For those of you looking to take on your fellow managers via Xbox Live, there are plenty of options in this department too. You can choose to compete either in a cup (2-4 players) or in a league (2-8 players), using either a default or saved team. Better still, you can create entirely new teams by drafting new squads from a selection of the world's finest players.

However, while the game's multiplayer options are unarguably entertaining, they aren't without their faults. For starters, it's hard to quickly find an opponent, as the game only conducts one search each time, meaning you have to constantly keep pressing the search button until you're finally matched with an opponent, something which can eat up a huge chunk of your spare time.

Manage in leagues from across the world, including the rubbish ones.

Once you're in a multiplayer game, you're tasked with setting up your tactics, dealing with the media and creating training schedules before each match begins. However, with no timer, opponent progress bar or communication options on show, you're often left sitting around for an age waiting for your opponent to complete their set-up before the match kicks off, which can become massively frustrating if you've only a limited time in which to play. What's more, there appears to be no restriction on how long or how many times you can pause a match to issue team orders, further elongating an already protracted online gaming experience.

The feedback inconsistencies from the single-player game are also evident here. At one point I was told that I'd transformed Liverpool from a virtual unknown to a household name by winning the online cup competition. Clearly, winning five Champions League titles doesn't count for much these days.

Even so, Football Manager 2008 is the finest management game ever to grace a console. But despite the game's many merits, you can't help feel that this year's iteration simply doesn't possess enough cutting-edge new features to set it apart enough from FM2007. Sure, it's still the best out there, but with no major overhauls evident, it's perhaps a little too similar to its predecessor to be absolutely essential.

8 / 10

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