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Total Club Manager 2005 PC CD-ROM

Published by EA Sports
Developed by EA Sports
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £29.99

It's the season for football manager games and after looking at Football Manager 2005 and LMA Professional Manager 2005 it's time to look at Total Club Manager 2005. Total Club Manager 2005, like LMA Professional Manager 2005, sports a 3D engine (the FIFA game engine to be exact) along with 20 fully licensed leagues (29 nations and 53 leagues in all), a large database of players, over 100 possible formations and the ability to link up with FIFA Football 2005 as part of what EA Sports calls Football Fusion. You can control as much or as little of the game as you want to with the choice of being a Jack of all trades to a virtual spectator in what's going on in your club. In fact on paper at least, the game certainly seem promising but there are several issues that prevent it being a serious rival to Football Manager 2005.

Total Club Manager, like many other management games out there, sacrifices realism in a bid to make the game more accessible. This is going to alienate fans of management simulations such as Football Manager 2005 but I daresay will appeal to those who want to have a bit of fun and do things that would have no chance of happening in real life. Beginning a new game means you have a fair few choices to make. You can choose how many nations you want to run (1-29), one of five difficulty levels, and as we mentioned in the intro, how much control you want of the club (you can keep purely to manager tasks or have total control over everything that happens at the club). You can choose to simply pick a team to manage or choose from a choice of three or create a team of your own. You can also pick a national team to manage. You can choose whether you can be sacked or not before finally picking a pre-season training plan and deciding how to distribute the 20 manager skill points. You have four main skills, motivation, coaching, keeper training and negotiation. If you want a second language then you will have to use five skill points to be able to choose one. When all this is done you'll finally begin the game.

The main problem with Total Club Manager 2005 is that the interface is just plain confusing. There's just too much information on some screens and it's all a bit overwhelming for the first few hours play. Like most football management the information comes in the form of icons and text. Whilst the text is straightforward the icons are not always so. Thankfully the manual gives you the meaning of some of the icons and you can choose to have text instead of icons for the training schemes. What I found really strange in TCM 2005 is that you don't have to click a continue button for the game time to move forward. Instead the time will move forward automatically although you can pause it if you want to. You do get messages pop-up of their own accord though and it can become quite annoying at times but like I said you can pause the progression of game time. There should also be an option to disable the animation of the overlays that pop out when you put the mouse pointer over certain words. These animations take too much time and can get quite annoying when you want quick access to certain items of information.

When it comes to playing a game you have a few choices to make. If you have a copy of FIFA 2005 then you can use the Football Fusion option to actually play the matches yourself. This feature is probably one of the main reasons why people might want to pick up Total Club Manager 2005 because it enhances your FIFA 2005 experience. If you don't have FIFA 2005 on PC then you can choose to watch a full 3D match, 3D highlights (which gives you both speech and basic text commentary and then switches to the 3D engine for the important action) or just have a quick result. Watching a full 3D match can be quite tedious but thankfully you can speed up the process. You can always press the Esc key and just 'sim' the match too if you want a quick result. Graphically the 3D match engine is a little behind the FIFA 2005 game engine in terms of detail and player movements can become repetitive. That said though it is fairly watchable. None of the match engine options actually give you as much information as you would like (although the option to watch the full game in a small window with a drop down list of various details such as player ratings is a nice touch but a radar/small overview of the pitch would have been most welcome as it allows to see the effect of your tactics much better).

Most of the information in Total Club Manager 2005 is in text. The match commentary is not subtitled as such but in the highlight mode there are brief text descriptions which serve the same purpose. Watching the full game will not give you any text to accompany the speech though and whilst you could argue that you can still see what's going on the choice of subtitles would have been a welcome addition. The game manual has 50+ pages that are rather useful in helping you get to grips with the game (which is always good to see in a game of this nature).

Total Club Manager 2005 is probably going to be one of those games you're either going to really like or really dislike. Those who've been enjoying Football Manager 2005 will probably find the interface cumbersome and the match engine lacking in important feedback. The lack of realism (in terms of results etc.,) might also irk these gamers. On the other hand those who want to combine the game with FIFA 2005 or those who like to have total control over everything ranging from picking the team to deciding whose name is on the advert boards will more than likely find some enjoyment with Total Club Manager 2005. In terms of options the game is certainly impressive but the interface needs to be more user friendly and much more intuitive.

Overall Game Rating: 6.9/10
In terms of options it's very impressive and it runs the whole 29 nations leagues very smoothly. However it's more of a game than a simulation and to get the best out of it you'll probably want to pick up FIFA 2005 to be able to play the matches.

Deaf Gamers comment:
It's fine for deaf gamers but the commentary is not subtitled.