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LMA Manager 2005 PlayStation 2

Published by Codemasters
Developed by Codemasters
Release Date: Out Now
Price : £39.99

Just over a week ago we looked at LMA Professional Manager 2005 on PC and the game was a disappointment. It had none of the polish that the previous console versions had and it didn't do the series justice at all. Those of you who have only known the series on the PlayStation, PlayStation 2 or Xbox will know that the games can be very enjoyable and that they are usually of a high standard. Here we have the 2005, PlayStation 2 version of LMA Manager and once again it shows that consoles can have an enjoyable football management game.

In terms of game modes LMA Manager 2005 is practically identical to the 2004 version. You can choose to play an Exhibition Match or jump into a 1 or 2 player game. You'll also have the chance to pick a real team to manage or create your own Fantasy team. On setting up a new game you'll notice that you're given the option to choose either Normal or Expert difficulty modes and you can also choose the level of assistance you require from your AI staff (ranging from full assistance to no assistance). The nations and divisions on offer are England (Premiership to Conference), Scotland (Premiership to Division 3), Italy (Serie A and B), Spain (Primera and Segunda), Germany (Liga 1, Liga 2), France (Division 1 and 2), Holland (Eredivisie and Eerstedivisie) and finally Portugal (Super Liga and Liga De Honra). That's twenty divisions in all, spread across eight nations which is 4 divisions and two nations more than the 2004 version.

When you've chosen your team, you'll be taken to the screen where you can enter your name and choose a quick start (which takes you straight to competitive matches although you'll have to wait around 5 minutes to actually get into a new game this way as the PlayStation 2 takes it's time processing results) if you wish. You'll also notice one of the games new features. If you have an EyeToy camera you can take three pictures of yourself that will appear in the newspaper articles. Whilst this is hardly an important new feature it does allow you to put your face in the game and will probably go down really well with younger virtual managers. Once you've actually setup a new game you'll notice that the game hasn't changed much at all from LMA Manager 2004. In some ways this is no bad thing as there was little wrong with the previous version but those that bought the 2004 version might be a little disappointed. Certain things have been tweaked though and you'll notice player prices are more realistic and that there is now a new transfer market player search but for the most part outside of the match day, it's virtually the same game.

LMA Manager 2005 sports new match graphics and they look better than ever. Whilst the player movements seemed too quick and had a few glitches on the PC's LMA Professional Manager there are no such problems with LMA Manager 2005. Graphically the matches look better than ever and thanks to improved player AI they are more watchable than ever too. In fact the match engine in LMA Manager 2005 is the best 3D match engine I've seen to date. You'll still see a few silly things but for the most part it's head and shoulders above the 3D match engines in other games. My biggest niggle with the match engine is still there though. In order to see the effectiveness of your teams tactics you really need a radar/mini overhead view of the whole pitch so you can see all the movements that your team are making and the LMA series still doesn't have this. This years more zoomed out camera angle does allow you to see more of the action though.

LMA Manager 2005 is fine for deaf gamers. All the important information is shown in text and you'll certainly have no trouble enjoying the game. The two areas of the game where deaf gamers are going to miss out somewhat is the Highlights and Match Analysis sections that appear after you've played a game. In the Highlights section there is speech from Gary Linekar and Barry Davies that is not subtitled and in the Match Analysis mode there are analytical comments from Gary Linekar and Alan Hansen that are not shown in text. Whilst some of analytical comments can be interesting none of these omissions are worth getting upset about and they can become repetitive. The game manual contains almost 40 pages and it's very useful with clear and concise instructions on how to get the most out of the game.

It would be easy to be a bit cynical and say that LMA Manager 2005 doesn't contain that many new additions but what it has improved upon has certainly been worthwhile and I would say it's the best version in the series so far. The match engine is better and more watchable than ever and the new transfer search system makes it easier to find what you want. The game has impressive scout reports and extensive details on players and the financial aspects of the game. An overhead radar/mini-map view is still needed during a match to help you view the effectiveness of your tactics though and this is one feature that I hope does make it for next year.

Overall Game Rating: 8.0/10
LMA Manager 2005 is the best in the series but some will have hoped for more a more extensive list of improvements/additions.

Deaf Gamers comment:
No real problems although the Highlight and Match Analysis sections are not subtitled.