With so many titles appearing every year, it amazes me that the football management simulation market is as strong as it is. This is a real fanatic's market, the punters who buy these games will, quite happily, buy every single one that comes out. Why? What's the attraction? I do it myself and I can't tell you why. But why do they all look so similar? Well, there are only so many jobs that a manager can do. To succeed in any game you have to put together a squad of excellent players, all of whom gel together and are co-ordinated well enough by you on the pitch so that they form a strong offensive line with a consistent defensive backline.
So how does radical Manager improve on the plethora of football management simulation games already out there? Well, Cammie Maertens, TM's programmer, seems to have cracked it. Anyone who religiously plays football management games will already know that Cammie is the man behind the successful Football Tactician series of games, a mail order only set, hailed by many as the most realistic available. The reason they are so realistic is that the whole thing really is feasible. All the teams in Tactical Manager are set up as they are in real life and the highly-detailed player statistics are as close as you are likely to get. The end result is realistic scores between teams, and authentic looking transfer deals. Tactical Manager isn't about having a lot of money and buying the best players, unlike most you could care to mention. It's more about using the team and the limited finances you have to come top of the league.
Tactical Manager features a multi-player system which allows up to 42 human players to play at once (any player can step in at any time to perform the actions they want) so no more tedious messing about with turns with computer players filling all the gaps. It's your job to win every single league and cup you can, while raising your own profile. Each manager has a rating, and that rating decides the level of team you can manage. You won't be able to load it the first time and manage Manchester United, for example, but after a couple of seasons, if you've played well enough, your rating should be high enough for you to apply for the job.
This game has more menus and options than I could easily mention here. You'll also know that the matches are presented in such a way that you actually want to watch them. Three levels of commentary let you in on the action. The simplest, and fastest commentary shows you the goals only. The second commentary gives you all the match highlights and the third gives you ball-by-ball action. The highlights work best, as far as I can see, especially if you enter the 80-minute point a goal down. As you are only told the interesting parts, with a small rectangle moving up and down a drawing of a pitch to show position, things can actually get quite gripping. Try it for yourself, it's true!
Tactical Manager might not be everyone's cup of tea. It doesn't have the smooth and flashy presentation of many games, and it's simplistic layout may put some people off. However, underneath all of this it has a superb management engine grinding away. Overall, Tactical Manager is a very absorbing tactical game.
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