LMA Manager 2003 Review

LMA Manager 2003 Review @ www.contactmusic
LMA Manager 2003 Review
Most football management games of the last 10 years tend to get unfavourably compared to the excellent "Championship Manager" series and try as they might, no one has been able to successfully create a console title which comes close to those on the PC (god bless the xbox and CM!). In their drive to produce an alternative to the addictive and utterly brilliant CM format, designers have tended to "do too much" with footy management sims, making them overcomplicated with too many club issues and non-football aspects to think about (stadium improvement and shirt sponsorship etc. Do you really think Sir Robert Robson sits down and brokers the deal with NTL? I think not.). This has meant that the average gamers focus is taken away from the most important part, i.e. picking the team and winning matches.

LMA 2003 goes some way towards achieving the simplicity lacking in other games without losing any authentic feel. You can have as much or as little involvement in external club issues as you like. If you want to deal with contract issues, training, sponsorship and so on, then you can do so, or you can leave it to your commercial and coaching staff just like at a real club.

All the players from the top English, Scottish and European teams are there and unlike many games, the attributes of each player are by and large accurate. For the anoraks among us, there are lots of stats, facts and figures to drool over, as well as manager of the month and a team of the week.

The 2003 version has been updated to take into account all the latest transfers and even has the new European transfer deadlines included, adding to the realism. The game really feels like it's been created by someone who actually LIKES football and gives you the impression that this has been designed to be a game for football fans much more so than gaming fans.

LMA Manager 2003 Review @ www.contactmusic
LMA Manager 2003 Review @ www.contactmusic

A great feature is the way that you can see a match being played out in front of you, you can see who's playing well and who isn't rather than just taking the PS2's word for it. Nice little touches are a green and red ball tracer and the player's names floating over their heads so you can identify them.

The game is marred only slightly by one or two in match flaws. For example, there are too many ever-so-slightly-out-of-shot off sides that have you roaring expletives at your TV and questioning the linesman's honesty and parentage. Too many late challenges (nearly every foul is a result of this), every time a goalkeeper comes out for a cross, he catches it (even

David James!). Too many penalties are missed (Shearer missed three in a row for me!) whilst too many free kicks go directly in. Minor things I know, and hey, this is a management sim, not ISS Pro Evolution 2! Still these are things I'd like to see ironed out of next season's incarnation.

The controls are really easy to master after a little initial fumbling it becomes second nature, after an hour or so you even stop thinking "this game should come with a mouse…hmm…I'll just go and put CM on my PC…". All injury, transfer and fixture news is sent straight to you via an "email" desktop which opens up at the start of each new day and all the menus are uncomplicated and easy to access.

There is even a "The Premiership" style highlights program, which is fun for a while, but has a limited appeal after you've seen the intro for the fourth time over a weekend! This is a new inclusion for this season and with a little tweaking could be a big plus for the game.

Ah who knows, maybe one day we'll see a really cracking football management

sim on a console, this ain't it, but for now, it'll do!7 out of 10