Football Manager 2007
It’s perhaps a tribute to a game’s replay value when a writer commits to a review, yet several months later nothing materialises from their efforts. Football Manager is one of those games that people know they should avoid, but can’t help spending just a little bit longer on. It seems to be the same with any game which gives you a whole world to play with, and this is no exception.
A hardcore simulation at heart, Football Manager 2007 is Sports Interactive’s third title since leaving the Championship Manager series behind. With an update cycle more akin to commercial software, it’s been refined every year and never ventured far from its original goal; to exactly replicate ‘the beautiful game’.
Like all good simulations, the detail here is incredible. Over 290,000 players and staff, 2351 clubs, 158 leagues and 51 countries make up a staggering amount of data to get to grips with. With such a large scope, no game is ever going to be the same as the last. Yet detail can be a double-edged sword.
The other side of this blade is accessibility, or a lack thereof. You could argue that Flight Simulator is a perfect example of this; so accurate that it can be used to train pilots, but just as difficult as learning to fly in the first place. If you know what you’re doing and are willing to invest the time, you’ll have hours of fun, but causal gamers feel like they’ve been thrown in the deep end.
While there’s still room for improvement, Football Manager really makes an effort to guide people in and offer them assistance before removing the ‘training wheels’. Tutorials, the in-game help and an extremely thorough manual mean that anyone with the slightest amount of football knowledge will find themselves immersed in a couple of hours.
New this yearThe most useful addition this year is club affiliation. You can have feeder teams which you can loan players out to to develop. There are also parent teams for smaller clubs and the ability to make lucrative commercial partnerships with teams abroad. Loaning players out used to be fairly hard, but now you can have a massive reserve team and keep them happy.Player interaction now plays a bigger part in the game, allowing you to praise or critise their form, suggest role models for youngsters and ask them to recommend a signing.Scouting also sees a major overhaul as well as the youth system, allowing you to find the latest talent far more easily than before.That said, games like Football Manager are very bipolar in their appeal. Either you’re going to be won over by the prospect of such a hugely complex simulation or you’re going to be driven away from it. Any tutorial or manual is really a guise; a teaser to help get you hooked. There’s no middle ground, no “I’ll play it for an hour a week”. To enjoy the game, you really have to invest a huge amount of time. Each season takes around 20 to 30 hours and you’ll want to play more than one. Like any addictive and demanding game, Football Manager should be approached be with caution and the knowledge of what you might be letting yourself in for.
Embrace it though, and it will take you on a journey that you’re unlikely to forget. Relegation battles, championship fights, cup finals and more await. The press will hound you, question your judgement, but be your weapon in mind-games at times of need. Players come and go, perform and underperform, develop and age. Football Manager’s detail really shouldn’t be understated; it blurs the boundary between fiction and reality. Here you have a little football world running inside your computer where the players are 2D circles and days are over in the click of a mouse, but boy is it accurate in the way it recreates real life.
“Football Manager’s detail really shouldn’t be understated; it blurs the boundary between fiction and reality.”Having played Football Manager 2007 for exactly 7 days, 12 hours and 7 minutes, placing me at Saturday 1st November 2014, I can safely say that the most rewarding thing is seeing young players turn into stars, and even better if they’re on your team. A few seasons ago I sent my scouts to Greece and while they didn’t find much, there was this player who looked quite promising, so I bought him for £60,000. Last season he scored the winner in the Champions’ League final and is currently worth £10 million. I guess you can imagine the appeal in finding such a bargain in a huge mass of players.
Football Manager is lucky to have such a great recurring formula. As players retire, new ones appear in youth teams. It’s an ever repeating cycle, season after season, fueling new challenges and experiences. That’s the beauty and the beast; it never ends.
“That’s the beauty and the beast; it never ends.”So I’m left in a situation to advise you on whether or not to buy Football Manager 2007. If you’re not a football fan, don’t bother. If you are, you definitely should, but only once you know the investment required and the consequences of it. Either way, Sports Interactive have to be applauded for what is another excellent game in the series. They’ve taken what’s essentially a big database and made it come alive in ways you’d never imagine, and you’ve got to give them credit for that.