|Publisher: Sports Interactive Genre: Sports|
|Min OS X: 10.1.3 CPU: G4 @ 500 MHz RAM: 256 MB Hard Disk: 500 MB Graphics: 1024x768|
We need to cover a few things right off the bat. Football Manager 2005 is not the sequel to Football Manager 2004 because Football Manager 2004 doesn't exist. If anything, the newly formed Football Manager franchise is a continuation of the popular Championship Manager series. Also, this is football as 99.99% of the world knows it, and not as Americans know it (not that Americans actually play any football, not really). Lastly, it is very important you realize that Football Manager 2005 is the kind of game that creates mania in its players. You cannot escape it. Having gotten these items out in the open, I feel that things can proceed without any real misunderstandings.
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Set the total number of countries and leagues your game will track
Football Manager 2005 (a.k.a Worldwide Soccer Manager) is a vast soccer management simulation. As the 70-odd page manual explains, 2,500 researchers have compiled info on 250,000 soccer players and team staff members such as coaches and physios from around the world to make sure that you have your hands on so much soccer information that you could physically explode. Using this info, gamers approach the soccer world not as a player, as in games like FIFA or Winning 11, but as a manager. The game is lauded as the be-all-end-all of sports management simulators and, in spite of its many flaws, this is something that is difficult to argue with.
Diving in headfirstFrom the outset, Football Manager 2005 is a niche market game. Gamers are expected to know a good amount about the dynamics of soccer, as well as the current global state of the game from hot players to transfer strategies. Admittedly, for much of the world this point is moot as soccer is the lifeblood of many a nation, but for a Yank like me who might not be a soccer fanatic, this is a major consideration. Gamers also need to not care that the entire game is played by selecting items from menu screens. The former is what will be a problem for most gamers. However, the user interface for Football Manager 2005 is surprisingly friendly considering the amount of information it needs to be keeping track of and is one of the game's saving graces.
The gamer has the choice to start out as the manager of virtually any soccer team in the world, from the national team of Azerbaijan to a small English Southern Conference squad unknown beyond its region. The size of the team you choose will greatly affect the gameplay experience. Fans are much more forgiving of a manager who makes mistakes on a tiny local team than they are for a British icon such as Arsenal. Equally varied will be the amount of media attention you need to deal with as a manager and the complexity of the player transfer system. Starting out a small squad is a good way to gain your chops with the game and get a handle on how to manipulate the menus and the many options available to the player. Playing as a manager in the big leagues, however, gives a better feel for the financial management and media handling aspect of the game.
The media aspect is a stellar way to add a layer of depth to what could otherwise be a dry numbers game. Managers have at times a startling array of commentary to make about upcoming or past opposing teams and their managers. These media statements not only affect how other teams view you and play against your team, but also heavily affect how your own team views you. Make a statement considered too cocky or too harsh to another manager and some players will want to play harder to prove you right, while others will frown at your lack of professionalism.
Football Manager isn't all about the team being managed, either. As a manager, you have a series of character stats, ranging from Professionalism to the Ability to Handle Pressure, that will change as you perform. It's a nice RPG touch in the sports sim world. In addition to this personal touch for the manager, players are all given a life of their own. Players have hidden stats and agendas that may not be transparent to the gamer, and they age realistically each year on their birthday. Players have their peak years and they will begin to decline after that time has passed. Football Manager gives life to the game through its menu screens and the sheer depth of attention paid to every last detail in the game.
The life of a manager will be spent overseeing trades (transfers), monitoring contracts, arranging the team's training schedules, selecting who plays in what games and at what position, orchestrating the flow of each game, and handling the media. Since many of these tasks are data heavy (setting a training schedule gives the player the option to schedule in three time slots for each day of the week; within each time slot, players can choose from 25 training options, leaving a possible total of one bajillion training schedule options) the manager can appoint assistants and coaches to take on some of the more menial tasks, freeing up your attention for higher level team management.
If, though, the menial tasks of team management are your bread and butter, then Football Manager is your All-You-Can-Eat buffet. Beyond being able to determine training schedules and starting line-ups, players can manage their main squad, their reserves and their Under-18s club if they so desire. Not happy with the team's performance in spite of the perfected field tactics you've developed? Go into your tactics on a player-by-player level and edit exactly how that player will perform on the field. Players even have their own personal tricks and tactics that gamers can get right and edit using the game's included editor.