Football management simulators have progressed to a stage of such comprehensiveness that the avid fan might begin to wonder just what improvements (ignoring the obligatory player and team updates) will be added in order to make any yearly update worth the damage to their monthly wage packet. The mighty storage capacity of DVDs means that the space for the wealth of data is no longer a problem, down to the most intrinsic stats and figures, so the challenge lies in fathoming out more and more add-ons in order to tempt back regulars. You can imagine EA's team of developers sighing a great sigh of relief after watching one season's game being published, followed briskly by the desperate realization of having to go through the whole process again to satisfy the needs of the subsequent season.
It's this constant pressure to re-invent the genre which FIFA Manager 07 struggles to overcome. Of course, they're not alone in this predicament, as all the big boys in the field must be itching their heads in a similar manner. The most noticeable tactic to solving of this dilemma seems to be to tack on extra gameplay modes that make any budding manager's duty (should they wish to fulfill every role) incredibly complex indeed. As the famous saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility, while in football management terms this also includes a time investment that should come with a warning to the stability of the player's whole life - say goodbye family, so long social life and hello to a single lifestyle anchor - the warm, comforting glow of a PC monitor displaying the interface of your current season.
All that said, it would be unfair to criticize FIFA Manager 07 for what it doesn't or simply now can't do new, and better to eye over some of the new features to judge their worth. There are a ton of delicate new additions as well as options that make a return from former versions, (the transfer list filter from 05's version for instance). However, one of the biggest new features is the introduction of youth team management that allows you to indulge yourself in the business of spotting talent and helping to shape the future success of your club. There are leagues, tournaments and special events to showcase the talents of thousands of football-loving whippersnappers as young as 11 years old. A separate league, transfer market and international youth camps mean that you end up spending much more time in this portion of the game than you initially intend to, but if handled correctly could see you reaping the rewards in years to come.
A further fresh feature that links well with the youth team sphere is a chance to broker co-operation deals between clubs, with a sort of "you scratch my back an' I'll scratch yours" mentality. If your squad's growing particularly large at the detriment to the young and inexperienced players who can't develop enough to fight for a first team place, you can send them to a smaller, so-called 'farm club' where their talents can be nurtured. When they've blossomed enough to be worthy of your attention, you can call them back for duty in your team, hopefully with thanks from the non-league club who would have benefited financially as well as never having been able to field any such budding talent otherwise.
As proof that a football manager can't leave his work at the training ground when he goes home for tea, the private life feature returns this year. Every major lifestyle decision needs to be accounted for, including any social engagements, the relationship with your partner and the upbringing of your children. Your task involves juggling all of these tasks and making sure the work/life balance is catered to satisfactorily. There's even the chance to train up any male offspring to become footballers in their own right, which, if you enter your own family's details could see Bobby Jr. shouldering up against some of the world's most renowned sportsmen.
An alternative to the career mode is the option to take on the role of a player throughout the duration of their playing years. After reaching set targets in training, you can inhabit the physical body of your chosen individual and take control of them in a game. Of course, the success of your participation depends on whether your skills are better than the player's original AI, and whether you can resist the temptation to run the pitch in an attempt to fill every other player's position.
Aesthetically there's little change from last year's game in terms of a functional, though not outstanding interface, and a 3D match engine that shows your team battling for glory in respectable detail and with a fluidity that trumps any other management simulation out there. Stadium tinkering has also undergone an upgrade, now taking the form of Sim City style training and leisure facilities that can be built up, knocked down and spruced up if your financial situation allows.
FIFA Manager 07 is about as insanely comprehensive as you could imagine, but its new additions as imaginative as they are just don't encompass the level of depth to make them essential add-ons. Rather, they seem included to bulk up the title's promotional blurb and differ 07's version from 06's. Don't fall for that, neither the fact that if you like your management simulations as hardcore as a topless Newcastle United fan in subzero Winter temperatures, then regardless of the full licensing, EA's latest attempt still falls short of Football Manager's poll position at the top of the football management simulators league.
People who downloaded FIFA Manager 07 have also downloaded:
FIFA Manager 06, FIFA Soccer 07, Total Club Manager 2005, F.A. Premier League Football Manager 2001, The, FIFA Soccer Manager, Championship Manager 4, Total Club Manager 2004, FIFA World Cup: Germany 2006
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