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Football Manager Handheld PSP

Published by SEGA
Developed by Sports Interactive
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £34.99

Football Manager Handheld, an introduction.

Sports Interactive have always given us the best football management games. Whilst many fans of their games have wanted a version they can play on the move, it just hasn't been possible due to the technological limitations with the handheld gaming machines on offer.  With the release of the Sony PSP however, that has all changed. Not only does the handheld console have the CPU power for Sports Interactive to create a game that's not severely compromised but it also has a rather large screen that's ideal for displaying the necessary data. So finally then we have the game all football fans have been waiting for, Football Manager Handheld.

What's the game about?

Football Manager Handheld is essentially a healthy mix of Sports Interactive's Football Manager games and some of their earlier Championship Manager 3 games. The game offers a choice of 7 different nations to manage. England, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Scotland and Spain are the nations on offer. The game allows you to play out a career spanning 30 seasons so there's plenty of opportunity to take the team of your choice all the way to domestic and European glory.

What's good about the game?

The best compliment you can give Football Manager Handheld is that it doesn't feel like a debut PSP title from Sports Interactive. Clearly the developers have spent a lot of time optimising the game engine to work well on the PSP and the performance of the game is impressive. Processing times are very quick and moving from screen to screen is virtually instantaneous. The UMD is hardly accessed after loading the game which means the battery usage is excellent. In fact you're looking at 6+hours play from a fully charged PSP battery, which is impressive.

Veterans of Sports Interactive's previous titles will definitely be feeling nostalgic when they play Football Manager Handheld. It may have the look and styling of Sports Interactive's games but the game definitely feels like the Championship Manager 3 series. Part of the reason for this of course is the return to a text based match engine. Initially it seems a little strange without having the 2D match view but it's surprising how quickly you get back into the swing of reading the text commentary and letting the match play out in your own imagination. The games in FMH actually play out quicker than in FM2006 and processing time between games is minimal. In a half-hour play session it's possible to get through at least six games or so, which not only makes the game ideal for short or long journeys but also means you can get through a season quite quickly. The database seems a little limited when compared to the huge one on offer in the PC and Xbox 360 versions of FM2006 but it's more than good enough to allow you to find those hidden gems in the lower leagues.

What's not so good about the game?

You'd have to be an idiot if you didn't expect some compromises to be made in order to have a Football Manager game on the PSP and indeed for the most part these compromises haven't taken anything away from the game. There are some omissions that are a little disappointing though. You can't create custom formations by dragging players into different positions. You can't set player runs and you can't save your formations. You can set player and team instructions but without the ability to save your tactics, you'll lose your unique configurations when you change to one of the many stock formations on offer. Player exchanges can't be made during negotiations, which seems a little strange. There are no reserves or youth team and squad sizes are smaller than in the PC game (but they are still adequately large enough for you to build a team of replacements). There's also no live league tables during a match and no team talks at half and full time. Still even with these omissions it's difficult to ignore just how addictive Football Manager Handheld is.

How does it look?

Graphically Football Manager Handheld was never going to be anything special. After all, the PC versions are primarily text based with a fairly simplistic 2D match engine. The PSP version has no 2D match engine though, so there's even less to comment on. Still the presentation of the game has to be up to scratch and Sports Interactive has done a great job in presenting the multitude of data on offer in a clean and non-cluttered manner. The styling of the interface echoes that of the PC Football Manager 2006 game and it suits this version very nicely.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

Football Manager Handheld is absolutely fine for deaf gamers. The sound in the game is the click noise that sounds when you press a button. Aside from this there are no other sounds and all information in the game is displayed either textually or numerically.

Final thoughts.

It's hard not to be impressed with what Sports Interactive have done with Football Manager Handheld. Some may bemoan the lack of a 2D match engine and others will point to the inability to set and save unique formations and that their favourite nation hasn't been included this time around. However, there's no denying Football Manager Handheld is a quality game and one that PSP owning football fans simply can't do without. What Sports Interactive has done here is to create a great football management game for the PSP that will be used as a basis for future versions. Some of the omissions for this version are unfortunate, although they don't stop the game from being anything other than impressive, but you can bet most of the omissions will be put back in for future versions.

Overall Game Rating: 8.5/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

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Even when you take into account the features that have been stripped out for this portable version, you can't fail to be impressed with how enjoyable and addictive Football Manager Handheld is. The lack of a 2D match engine isn't really a problem and fans of Sports Interactive's earlier games will definitely feel a sense of nostalgia when playing the game with a return to the classic text-based commentary that allows your imagination to run wild.