Football Manager 2007 PC & Mac (Power PC & Intel) CD-ROM

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

Football Manager 2007, an introduction.

If you think about it, it must be difficult for developers who release a game on an annual basis to constantly come up with the goods. A game is released one year that most people are very happy with and in order to make a new release worth a purchase you have to do more than simply give it a virtual lick of paint and change the number on the box. Sports Interactive are just one of the developers that face this annual problem. Football Manager 2005 was a very good game but people expected more from Football Manager 2006 and thankfully SI delivered. Of course their success becomes a burden then as we all expect Football Manager 2007 to be something better. The weight of such expectations can not be pleasant but SI have risen to the challenge and delivered the greatest football management game I’ve ever played.

What’s new this year?

There are many new or improved features in Football Manager 2007. Most of these are small things. The first thing you’re going to notice is the new, user-friendly skin called Flexion which is far more pleasant that the metallic skins from previous versions. Pre-match team talks can now be given. The scouting system has been improved. You can now have affiliated and feeder clubs. You also have a configurable home page where you can display the information you want. Pages can be bookmarked and categorised just like in an Internet browser. Media interaction has been improved and you can even talk to your players and ask them who they would recommend you to sign. You can also ask your senior professionals to take youth players under their wing and tutor them. These new features are just the tip of the iceberg and there are far too many to simply list here.

What’s good about the game?

The new and improved features combine to make Football Manager 2007 a superior experience to any other football management game I’ve even played. Let’s be honest here though. If you haven’t played a Football Manager game before the options can be simply overwhelming. Last year SI included a tutorial system whereby you could simply press the F1 key to bring up a help section for the screen you were on. That tutorial section returns once again but this year there are additional features to help shoehorn newbie virtual managers into game. To begin with when you start a new game a wizard will guide you through the process making each of the steps as informative as possible (seasoned Football Manager veterans needn’t worry as this can be disabled). During processing times various hints and tips will appear on the screen and these are actually very useful. The game manual has also been very well written to explain everything in a clear and concise manner. In short it’s probably the most user-friendly SI game that I can remember.

Of course seasoned players of the game need little help in getting started but they will certainly be happy with the alterations in this year’s version. Your manager profile can now have a picture associated with it so you’ll always have your face on display when any new items concerning you are issued. That’s just a cosmetic inclusion and far less important than other features though. The match engine has once again been enhanced and the matches are more enjoyable, and realistic, than in previous versions. Previous Football Manager games have made good use of hotkeys to enable you to move from one screen to another very efficiently. FM2007 allows you to configure your own hotkeys so if you want to access the home screen by press the ‘Home’ key on your keyboard you can do so. Let’s say you want to give a few players a rest from training for a few days. Previously you’d have to do this for every single player. In FM2007 you simply hold down the ‘Ctrl’ key and click on the small arrow head icon next to each of the player’s names. Next you’ll right click on one of your chosen players and you can tell all of your selected players to rest. You can also block select using the ‘Shift’ key just as you would in most Windows applications.

Most fans of the series often worry about game performance when it comes to a new version of the game. Thanks to new Detail Level options Football Manager 2007 is more resource friendly than any previous title in the series. Selecting Detail Level from the options menu allows you to choose what competitions to simulate in depth or quickly simulate. You can opt to just run the division you manage in full detail and have every other league or competition quickly simulated. Of course if you want to watch games from other nations and competitions you’ll need to run those competitions in full detail to do so (cup competitions can be chosen to simulate in full detail in later stages which is useful). Best of all though is the fact that you can alter these setting at any time. This means if you start a new game and select five nations and their leagues and then find half way through a season that your PC (or Mac of course) is finding the strain too much you can simply enter the Detail Level screen and turn off the full simulation for every league except for the one you’re managing in. The effect of altering the detail level options can be quite dramatic and even on lower end PC’s the game can be made to process data much more quickly than before.

So many aspects of the game have been improved that’s quite simply impossible to give every one a mention here. The game has a new player generation system that is supposedly much more efficient than the previous one. We can’t really comment on this as (every player of Football Manager will tell you) you really need a good 10 or so seasons under your belt before the effects of this become obvious and whilst we’ve played the game a lot we haven’t got to the stage where all of today’s players have hung up their boots. The new scouting system (with each scout having their own specialised regions etc.) seems much better and you no longer have players being recommended who simply aren’t good enough. Of course the quality of your scout determines how effective he is. Scout reports are more detailed than before and give you a better idea of the player you’re watching. Media interaction has been improved and as well as the manager mind games, you’ll get asked to comment on incidents that have happened in other games as well as what you think about up and coming matches. Beware though as your players are sensitive to your comments in FM2007 and it’s possible to both please some players and upset others at the same time. Other new features that enhance the experience are the ability to select what type of past experience you have when starting a new game (it’s possible to make yourself a retired international player for instance) thus avoiding the fans taking an instant dislike to a newbie being in charge. You can also have a dual nationality. For a real challenge you can opt to manage a random team. Transfers can now be stalled to allow other bidders to come in. Club takeovers and attempted takeovers occur with realistic frequency. You can opt to drop a player into the reserves for a week or two to allow them to get their sharpness back and they’ll know that it’s only a temporary thing thus avoiding getting too upset. In fact we could go on and on but we’ll leave it at that.

What’s bad about the game and what could be added?

I daresay some will bemoan the absence of additional leagues in Football Manager 2007. Those looking for the game to include lower level leagues will be disappointed that once again the lowest league you can play in is the Conference North and South. The German national team is once again filled with fictitious players due to licensing restrictions (Konami have also suffered with this in this year’s Pro Evolution Soccer 6). In my opinion the assistant manager still doesn’t do enough. Why can’t he make remarks during a match? Of course poor assistants wouldn’t be of much help but it would be great to actually have them make their presence felt. I’ve always felt that you should have the option of disabling the flashing text that occurs when a goal is scored. If for nothing else it would be beneficial for those who have epilepsy. I’d like the ability to create a custom league, for online play this would be a great feature. Why not have the options to play competitions such as the FA Cup/World Cup/Champions League online? This would provide a short and sweet online experience for those who haven’t the time to engage in an online career.

How does it look?

As you all know, the Football Manager series is primarily text based and there are no fancy visuals to speak of. However it must be noted that the presentation of this year’s game has certainly improved a bit. As we’ve already mentioned, the game has a new skin that’s both easier on the eyes and more user friendly. Some of the visual elements from the Xbox 360 version of Football Manager 2006 have found their way into the game (such as the processing bar that appears when you return to a match after making a substitution and the hints and tips that appear when you’re waiting for results to process).

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

The game is absolutely fine for deaf gamers as it is primarily text based. There are no captions for the match sounds but that is the only thing you could pick fault with. We certainly wouldn’t regard it as such though as sounds don’t really add anything to the experience. The game manual, which contains around 70 pages, is very good and recommended reading for anyone who is new to the game.  Games such as Football Manager 2007 need a quality manual and it’s great to see such a paper manual included (and not one of those irritating PDF efforts).

Final thoughts.

What can you say about Football Manager 2007? The game is a classic and the benchmark for the sports management genre. It not only wipes the floor with other titles in the genre but also previous Sports Interactive titles. I recently had the chance to play Championship Manager 2007 (now developed by BGS of course) and whilst the game was much better than the travesty that was Championship Manager 5 it’s still light years behind Football Manager 2007. Of course there’s still room for improvement but there’s not much room and if Sports Interactive keep going at this rate we’ll have the perfect game before the end of the decade.

Overall Game Rating: 9.6/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

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Football Manager 2007 is quite simply a superb game that surpasses every other football management game to date. The improvements and new additions that have been made make this a superb game that every fan of the genre simply must experience.