LMA Professional Manager 2005
You can’t look next to it: in the kingdom of soccer management games Football Manager, formerly known as Championship Manager, has been sitting steady on the throne for years. Meanwhile, this season’s incarnation has gone retail and found its way to the shelves.
The competition, in the form of Codemasters’ LMA Professional Manager 2005, sees this ruling with empty eyes and thies to compete with the giant.
More teams than last year ! More competitions ! More players ! More options ! But does the game have enough content after this commercial talk to still play with the best ? I’ll find out.
What immediately gets noticed is the long time necessary to start up the game. I didn’t chrono it but cound four to five minutes. I do have to say that my cheapo Gericom laptop might be an explanation for this. But anyway, I’ve never experienced such loading times. Luckily the game, once completely booted, plays pretty swift.
The start is promising. On the tones of a song I seem to have heard in a previous FIFA version, I choose my team. Hmm, let’s think. Could the Belgian competition be present ? Nope, too bad since it would have been quite a challenge to lead my beloved STVV to a Champion’s League victory. This is in fact very strange seeing that our first class teams are present in the gigantic database. Managing them yourself however, is not possible.
Now in this edition are the Portuguese, Dutch and English lower divisions.
Ok, I’ll choose West Ham United. And it has to be said: on the part of realism LMA deserves an award! The London club is added to the game with the utmost detail. The stadium, Upton Park, looks exactly as how I remember it from my daytrip to the UK capitol. Also the player data, club logo, gear colors, … everything is how it should be. Very important seeing that the average soccer manager freak gets his kicks out of ultrarealism. Names like Rolando or Shreckham will not be encountered.
The available management options can be called pretty classic. Buying players on the transfer market is done by an easy built-in search option where you can look by name or specific attributes, think of a maximal cost for instance. Here your budget is of course a limiting factor. Further on you can occupy yourself with the financial aspect of your club, although quite limited, by selling adboards to potential sponsors. Not really that exciting, seeing that it comes down to accepting the highest bid.
Here we come to the most important part of any soccer sim: leading your players core! Also on this part the game suffices, without really excelling in a certain part. Tactics and training rythm can be adjusted as you want. Concerning the team setup you need to take two things into consideration; instrinsic qualities (passing, headplay, dribbles, …) and the shape your players are in. The main rule is simple: the players that often start in the base of the team have a higher moral than those on the bench. Some other things do come into account though. Having a lot of players of the same nationality will have a good influence on the friendship ties within your team.
The game itself then. The aspect where LMA really is renewing compared with the competition. As coach you can choose to watch the game in a true 3D engine, or have it simulated without any view. The engine used isn’t state-of-the-art, but it suffices. In my opinion it’s more pleasing than a complete textual version of a match. But… a full game takes a long time… very long: 15 minutes is too much even for the die-hards. Therefore the possibility is present to have the game being played speeded up. Unfortunately the game then starts to look like a game of pinball.
And it goes on, match after match. Quickly the ghost of boredom (the fear of each developer!) strikes. I had the feeling that after a couple of hours I was playing on automatic pilot. Once your team is set up decently, there’s little to do other than replacing a player that got hurt. There are too little elements that can still surprise you after three seasons. And that’s what this type of games is all about. Don’t get me wrong, LMA is a decent game, but it doesn’t manage to stand out of the crowd.