Football Manager 2007 Xbox 360 Review

May 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

It has to be said that Football Manager’s debut on Microsoft’s next generation console was a sour experience, at least it was until you got to grips with the rather complex control system, which quite simply left us bemused on many occasions. The 2007 version is thankfully a turnaround, so you won’t hear us complaining about the navigation system this time around.

Everything now seems more conveniently placed and much easier to get at than previously, and flipping between menus and reaching your desired screens soon becomes a simple task opposed to the navigation nightmare that didn’t do the preceding game any favours in getting us to fall in love with it. Forgetting about the rest of the improvements for a moment, this would easily have been enough to make sure our virtual football management career got off the ground, after being previously intimidated by those mixed up menus in the 2006 edition.

Now we can truly feel the heart and soul that Sports Interactive inject into their games without arriving on screens that are totally unrelated to what we are actually aiming to do. With that said it’s hard not to be stunned by the amount of attention that has been lavished on the game and the masses of data and number crunching going on behind the scenes. Perhaps the words “labour of love” are used too often, as those three words are no more befitting than they are right here.

New this year are a number of fresh features, which pushes the series even further out of reach of its hopeless rivals. There’s actually over 100 new features, although most of these obviously don’t add anything dramatic to the addictive Football Manager experience. Those wanting an enhanced experience are still going to get it though, as features such as feeder clubs and improved interaction debut as the more significant of talking points.

Pre-match team talks are now an option (along with the halftime and fulltime talks of the previous game), which means you can try and motivate your players to dazzle you with their magical feet before they even step out onto the pitch. Also it’s now possible to see how your team talks are affecting the individual players, which is useful if you are looking to inspire your lads to continually get you the results that the higher-ups are paying you to accomplish. Further interaction with members of your squad goes as far as asking individuals to recommend potential new signings for your team, involve veterans in helping out younger players, and you, as the manager, can comment on members of your squad through the now more present media (yes you can openly criticise their performances if you feel the need) or any other player in the entire universal database, and more.

Feeder/parent clubs are another neat idea, sourced from real life of course, Feeder Clubs earn the financial backing of bigger parent clubs, and these larger teams can even send their younger and unwanted players to their Feeder Clubs to develop their talents and also have the first option on that clubs players. Friendly matches between parent and feeder club can also be arranged, which is obviously going to be a bigger benefit for the smaller club. The great thing about this whole thing is that your own club can either be the feeder or the parent team depending on the stature of your club, and what the commanding board believes to be correct.

Then there’s the chairman who can decide to sell up shop to a cash-waving billionaire, sometimes leaving your future at the club uncertain as the new man in charge can decide that your managerial services are no longer required, thus ousting you from your position and straight into the dole office. Your chairman can also snatch the hand off another club if a deal is just too damn good to turn down, which means it’s possible to lose your best players through lucrative transfer deals without any prior input from yourself. You’ll most probably curse your bad luck, but that’s football for you.

The scouting system is one of the big improvements and is now easier to understand, therefore you’ll know exactly who to send out to search for the cream of world football, as all the scouts have their talents in certain areas of the globe, depicted by knowledge bars, which show how skilled they are at looking at a certain countries talents. It’s possible for your scouts knowledge to grow when they are given assignments outside their speciality zones. Like many of the other features, it’s another game within the game. Great stuff.

When it comes to online the game is disappointing, not because Sports Interactive have denied us a stellar set of options, rather it’s because the game isn’t exactly populated with rival broadband managers. This is a shame, as cups and leagues are possible against other players and in a new feature you can even build fantasy squads. To be honest the online mode could deliver something a little more instant, as perhaps it’s a little too close to the offline experience, which is perhaps off putting to those who are used to pick-up-and-play online games.

Niggles aside, Football Manager 2007 is so involving that once the game captures your heart you’ll be met by controversial decisions, moments of elation, and shock and amazement as your football story plays out before you. It’s a wonderfully enthralling ride that doesn’t need a flashy match engine to absorb your time. Yes, Football Manager 2007 is quite simply the best football management game that money can buy and a remarkable improvement over the 360 debut.