Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Football Manager Handheld

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Electronic Theatre ImageEver since Sports Interactive’s first Championship Manager title arrived on the Commodore Amiga and ATARI ST back in 1992 the series has gripped football fans and gamers  alike with its superb attention to detail, realism and criminally addictive gameplay. Despite never even attempting a remote level of graphical flair, the series has frequently drawn in the unwary gamer and refused to let go until the early hours of the morning. Many a woman has been rejected in favour of “just one more match” and the sheer amount of productivity lost due to these games probably rivals several Eastern European countries Gross National Product (GNP). The Championship Manager games and their spiritual successor, Football Manager, have always been primarily PC oriented, with console gamers having to deal with playing the critically-deemed inferior LMA Manager and Premier Manager series’ to sate their managerial desires. Alongside the launch of the Xbox360 version of Football Manager 2006 comes Football Manager Handheld for the PSP. You can have Football Manager in your pocket.  For some this review is already over, they have already consigned themselves to the purchase of Sports Interactive’s first portable console game, but wait just a second and think, not every port to SONY’s portable console has been a total success, has it?

The game is set out very similarly to the current PC release. You start by selecting aElectronic Theatre Image team and from then on it’s your job to direct them toward glory through the use of many text-heavy screens displaying everything you need to know. Football Manager Handheld is turn-based and as a team’s manager it is up to you to govern the day-to-day needs of your team, mainly on the field, but also in other area’s such as the transfer market and media speculation. The Xbox360 version of Football Manager 2006 allows the player to do almost anything that the manager of a professional football club could; this however is not the same for the PSP version. Perhaps in an attempt to make the game simpler for the average console gamer or maybe due to the technical constraints of the PSP, Football Manager Handheld is significantly less in-depth than the original edition. For example, there is no option to manage a team’s reserve side, none of the media options seen in Football Manager 2006 are present and the ability to move the players Electronic Theatre Image around the tactics board has been removed. In-fact Football Manager Handheld has more in common with the earlier Championship Manager and 16-Bit console releases of Premier Manager games than the Football Manager franchise.

It is, however, far more streamlined than any other Football Manager or Championship Manager release. L and R act as forward and back much like with an Internet Browser, and the Face Buttons are used for each page’s available options. This, in-conjunction with the Home Menu, means that most screens can be accessed within seconds. An appreciated improvement that was neglected in the Xbox360 version and shows that Sports Interactive have genuinely attempted to make a console release, as opposed to an all to common copy-and-paste port. Being a title under the hand of Sports Interactive Games, Football Manager Handheld features the Sports Interactive database and as such any virtual manager has access to thousands of different players, although strangely, only while in the Electronic Theatre Image Premier League as managers in the lower leagues can only search for players in their country. However Football Manager 2006 can cripple all but the most powerful home computers, making the PSP’s versions nippy Load Times a come as somewhat of a shock.

Football Manager Handheld is a text-based game, so no prizes for guessing that graphically it’s not going to blow you away. The text is clearly visible at all times despite the size of the screen, thanks in-part to the PSP’s high resolution display. One of the most unfortunate casualties of the transition from Xbox360 is the 2D Match Engine. This obviously makes visualising the games harder despite the decent on-screen commentary’s best efforts and is likely to offend the Football Manager faithful, with the offering ending-up on par with the earliest Championship Manager releases on the PlayStation. As for sound, well, movement of the cursor is celebrated with a nice click… possibly in stereo.

Football Manager Handheld is a decent attempt at bringing the franchise to a portable console, however the journey has not been without incident, and the game does lack the depth of its Xbox360 and PC counterparts. ThankfullyElectronic Theatre Image this has resulted in Football Manager Handheld having incredibly short Loading Times and may possibly shock many PSP gamers familiar with the frequent “Now Loading…” screen. The game works without hitch and provides an incredibly re-playable experience. Football Manager Handheld is Football Manager in your pocket. Expect insomnia. Electronic Theatre Image









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