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Football Manager 2006 Xbox 360

Published by SEGA
Developed by Sports Interactive
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £49.99

Football Manager 2006, an introduction.

The Football Manager series from Sports Interactive and SEGA has proved to be the benchmark for sports management series. Both Football Manager 2005 and Football Manager 2006 have been impressive and immensely popular on the PC. Whilst console football management games have been popular for years none of ever matched the Football Manager series in terms of depth or realism. The Football Manager series couldn't be brought to either of the PlayStation 2, Cube or Xbox because they just didn't have the necessary hardware. The Xbox 360 is another matter entirely though and can easily handle a complex management game such as Football Manager 2006.

What's the game about?

Football Manager 2006 for the Xbox 360 is essentially the same game as Football Manager 2006 for the PC (you can read our review of that game here) with all of the data being correct to the end of the January transfer window. That means you have a whopping database of almost 300,000 players, around 50 leagues to manage in and the excellent 2D match to enjoy enabling you to see how successful your tactics really are. Naturally the interface has undergone some minor changes to make the game more suited to the Xbox 360 controller instead of a mouse and 50 achievements have been added to the game to help you improve your Gamerscore. Custom online play has been added too, and SI has taken time to create an interface for both standard TV's and HDTV's.

What's good about the game?

The processing power of the Xbox 360 allows Football Manager 2006 to process data more quickly than the PC version. Sports Interactive have taken care to utilise the power of the 3 symmetrical cores on the Xbox 360 CPU and the result is very impressive. You are limited to running a game with only 10 divisions (so the English league with the Premier, Championship, League 1, League 2, Conference, Conference North and Conference South would count as running 7 leagues) but even with this limitation the game manages quicker processing times than PCs do at the moment. In fact running the game with all 10 divisions enabled (I picked all of the English divisions and chose 3 from the Scottish League) the game was significantly quicker than our AMD 64 powered PC running just the English leagues, which is impressive.

A few new features have been added for this Xbox 360 version. 50 achievements have been added. These range from the simplistic 'Clean Sheet', which earns you 3 Gamerscore points, to the 'Undefeated Season' achievement, which earns you 150 Gamerscore points. Unlike a lot of Xbox 360 games though, most of the achievements are actually quite challenging with the easy ones only yielding a few Gamerscore points, which is actually a good thing as far too many games dish out a large amount of points for trivial achievements. The other major difference with the Xbox 360 version is the Xbox Live options that have been included. You can take part in custom cup and league competitions (for up to 16 players) and you can even export your team from your single-player game to play with. These are great features and I wouldn't be surprised if they make their way into the next PC version of the game.

What's not so good about the game?

Should you have purchased the Core pack when you bought your Xbox 360 you'll be disappointed to learn the game has to have the hard disk drive in order to function and in fact it's the first Xbox 360 game to demand that users have a hard drive. The controls take some getting used to. After a couple of hours with the game you will begin to feel familiar with the controls but seeing as the console does offer USB ports it's unfortunate that there's no support for a USB mouse (for the benefit of those who just can't get used to the controller). The LB button brings up the general menu whilst the RB button brings up a context sensitive menu. The four primary buttons (A, B, X, and Y buttons) are all context sensitive with their functions being displayed at the bottom of the screen. Some functions are awkward though. For instance at half-time you are automatically taken to the team talk screen. You would think that you'd be able to access the tactics screen with a touch of button but it's not that simple. Instead you'll have to press the RB button, with the left analogue stick highlight 'sections', from the second menu that appears select your team name and then from the new menu that appears select tactics. This is an awfully long-winded way of going about things and a better solution needs to be found.

Playing the game on a standard TV is fine for the most part but when it comes to matches it is a bit of a mess. The circles that represent the players seem too big and often overlap. You don't get this problem when viewing the game on a HD display as the player to pitch ratio is practically the same as on the PC version. When using a USB keyboard to type in player names you have to press A on the controller and then the standard Xbox 360 virtual keyboard screen appears on screen. You should be able to type directly into the search box when using a keyboard because there's no need to see a virtual keyboard on the screen when you have a real keyboard in front of you. Finally whilst the online options are very enjoyable, it's a shame you can't enjoy an online career with a few of your friends like you can with the PC version. Whilst you can play an online league it's simply a one-off season with no transfers allowed. For those who have experienced playing a career online this will be disappointing.

How does it look?

Like all of the Sports Interactive titles to date there's very little to mention when it comes to graphics. The 2D match engine is the same as in the PC versions so there's little complaint there. The interfaces for both the standard TV and HDTV look fine although, as we've mentioned above, the standard TV skin does have its limitations with a squashed 2D pitch view and not supporting a split-screen view during matches. Otherwise though, there's nothing here to complain about.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

Aside from the crowd noise and a rather irritating interface noise (that sounds when you perform actions) there's nothing in Football Manager 2006 that deaf gamers will miss out on. All of the information in the game is text and numerically based so there are no problems at all for deaf gamers.

Final thoughts.

If you could have asked any Xbox 360 owning football fan which football management game they would have liked to appear first on the console it's a sure bet that 90% would have named Football Manager 2006 because no other management game comes anywhere near it. In creating a game that's feature identical to the PC version Sports Interactive will certainly have pleased a lot of gamers. The online options and the 50 achievements that have been added are definitely nice touches. I could say they are features that will extend the life of the game but Football Manager 2006 is a game that doesn't need any assistance with this. The controls do take some getting used to and I daresay some would have appreciated the ability to attach a USB mouse to the console (which is something I feel should have been offered if only to keep everyone happy). The 2D match view definitely looks too squashed on a standard TV although it's not an issue if you own an HD display (although many gamers probably don't at this point in time). Overall though, this Xbox 360 version of Football Manager 2006 is very impressive and it's easily the best football management game you can buy on any console.

Overall Game Rating: 8.9/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

(Click the letter or here for details)

Football Manager 2006 for the Xbox 360 is the same excellent game it is for the PC with a couple of exclusive features thrown in too. The control scheme takes some getting used to however, and the 2D match view is a little squashed when playing on a standard TV set. All things considered though, this is still a superb debut appearance on the Xbox 360.