Football Manager 2006 Review
The dream of any true football fan is to get a chance at managing your favourite team to victory, or the embarrassment which is only known as defeat. Chances are you’ll never get that opportunity, luckily there is an alternative and it comes in the form of Football Manager 2006 for the Xbox 360. This is of course the first time that a managerial simulation game has been released onto a next-generation console, but is it really worth that massive fifty quid price tag?
Now as you have probably guessed this is a Football manager game and your sole purpose is to guide your chosen team to victory. Of course along the way you will find yourself resorting to harsh words, demoralising certain players and threatening the opposition with knifes (wait, scratch that one). Your first job will be to choose the team which you will guide through the battlefield known as football. There are a total of fifty leagues on offer, so choosing your side might be a little more difficult than first thought. Once you’ve chosen your team, you can then start to wade through the 280,000 players on offer as manager. What’s more each and every player is unique, whether it’s their date of birth, hair colour, passing skill or shooting power (I feel sorry for the researchers).
Next you’ll have to crawl through the countless news bulletins, injury reports and transfer requests that will hit your desk every second of the day using Football Managers console friendly menu. Sadly this is where a problem arises, for many the user interface will come across as being very difficult to use. Even after reading the instruction manual three or four times I still found myself ending up on the wrong pages, deleting transfer requests and forgetting to respond to mail. Granted once you do get the general jist of the interface the game feels a lot easier to play, but even after a good twelve hours of play I still find myself looking at my resignation when I should be buying Michael Owen and it at times can be very frustrating.
The game itself can also at times be a bit slow. You will notice that the interface will freeze for a few seconds and this is mainly due to the huge database of players, teams and countries hidden within the game. The game will also freeze while in the middle of a match. Most of the time it froze because I tried to do a few things at once and to be honest I would have thought the Xbox 360 could have copped with the constant multitasking, but obviously it can’t.
So now I’m meant to talk about how good the game looks. Well that could be a problem as graphics don’t really apply to Football Manager. If you want a game with amazing graphics you’d be much better of playing Ghost Recon or Burnout. I mean the interface does look pretty slick, the matches are smooth and the general layout doesn’t look half bad, but you won’t get mouth watering goodness out of this game. If I was to compare it to other managerial games I would say it does look pretty nice, I think the only game that does look better is LMA manager.
As for audio, well it’s much the same story as the Graphics. The interface ‘beeps’ are slightly annoying but bearable; the only thing you will hear in a match is a whistle and the buzzing of a bumble bee with the chills, no wait that’s meant to be the crowd. Luckily you can always stream your MP3 player through the Xbox 360 and with the right song you will start to realise just how good Football Manager 06 really is.
As for replayability, to put it simply you could be happily playing this game until you’re a hundred and fifty. This game can get very addictive, especially when you come to the end of a season as you will find yourself saying ‘just one more game’ and that one more game will quickly turn into three seasons, a marriage and two kids. If you start with a lower club in the Conference you will find yourself stuck to the TV in your quest to get to the Premiership and trust me that will take a good few seasons. Online also adds a lot of life to the game, but I’ll talk about that in a second. This game could in fact last for tens of years if Sports Interactive uses the marketplace to regularly update the game with new strips, stadiums, players etc… Sadly I doubt they will as they would undoubtedly make more money releasing the same game year after year.
The online mode was one of the more revolutionary features of the game. Just imagine 16 player leagues or tournaments where only tactics can decide the true winner. True football heaven, sadly the game is horrible online. It’s slow and ninety percent of the time you’ll find yourself being unable to connect to the Football Manager server. Once you do finally get going it can be a right laugh, but like many other games no one seems to communicate online, which is a shame as it sucks all the joy out of the game. They will no doubt bring out a patch to fix the online bugs, but SI had better get their skates on as LMA is only a few weeks away.
Overall the game is very addictive offline, but diabolical online. The single player mode will please any football fan for many, many months if not more. It’s immersive and you will find yourself awake at three am choosing new lineups and signing Ronaldhino as your new striker. If you’re looking for a game with non-stop online action don’t even bother to pick this one up of the shelf. Is it worth the fifty quid? If you’re a footie fan then I would most definitely say yes!!!
Originally Written By: Lee Matthews