Richard Sawyer

Football Manager 2005

12th June 2005
reviewer: Richard Sawyer
rating: 5 out of 5
developed by: Sports Interactive
published by: Sega
rrp: £19.99
formats: PC/Mac

There is the beautiful game and then there is the stunning incandescent beauty of the 2D statistics driven football management game. Yes people, we are talking Football Manager 2005; the spiritual successor to the critically acclaimed Championship Manager series.

Eidos and Sports Interactive fell out, Sega stepped in and we now have a brand new engine and front end for 2005. To save some people the need to keep reading – they've not messed anything up. If you're a fan of the series and you don’t own the game yet, then initiate owning process 1.1.

Now the rest of this review will concentrate on trying to pinpoint exactly what makes the game so good; well more specifically, how comes a game can make me have multi save games, each with over 400 hours gameplay recorded. Double check, yes, I said 400 hours and no this isn’t an RPG… or is it? Seriously, I know it’s a management sim, but at the heart of it you play the role of a football manager; one of the most exciting, high pressured and high profile jobs around… and here is the beauty of it: it's 100% convincing. You can drop the prima donna, you can break the bank for a star striker, you can talk down an injury in the media… all on top of a perfectly realised game engine. Every second of the match is mapped out for you in 2D glory – if you wish to watch it, the player movements are realistic and believable; watch Defoe spin off as the ball is played into Keane’s feet, note Henry’s change of pace as Pires picks up the loose ball… it’s all there and it all works to involve you deeper and deeper into the action.

I’m obviously not going to convince everyone here, but if you do have the slightest interest in football, then you really should take a closer look. Believe the hype and the stories of all-nighters, this game will own you and maybe even destroy you. But then this is no ordinary game; this is the beautiful game served up on a silver platter laced in the sweat of Pele and polished off with the turf of the 1966 Wembley pitch, doused in Carling and inserted gently into your… hang on, ignore those last bits…It’s just really really really really really good… but not necessarily good looking.