It’s not Christmas just yet, but each annual instalment of Sports Interactive’s long running football management franchise always gives us a similar buzz.
And we’re not talking any old Christmas either. Think back to when you knew you were going to get a Commodore 64 or Sinclair Spectrum before your mates. We’re talking wet your pants with excitement time.
Like Konami’s Pro Evo Soccer, the Football Manager titles have stood head and shoulders above the rest. It has prompted some critics to accuse SI of resting on their laurels a wee bit, safe in the knowledge that the name is enough to ensure blockbuster sales.
To combat these doubters – who in all honesty have been as daft as anyone believing Scientology is the way to go – SI have unleashed a dazzling number of tweaks to this season’s update.
But is it a season too far for the money spinning series?
As all Football Manager fanatics are well aware, this title isn't big on graphical finesse. Well, unless a bunch of moving circles and a dazzling text font does it for you.
But this lack of visual flair doesn’t hide just what an incredible simulation Football Manager 2007 really is. The series has never set out to provide a few cheap thrills here and there. This is hard nosed football management we’re talking about and, for SI, only the most realistic and involved sim will do.
And yet again, they’ve topped the league. There’s not a massive amount of additions, but last season’s version had got the lot already. It’s the minor tweaks and tinkering with the formation that makes the 2007 update the best yet. Steve McClaren take note.
For starters, the in game engine is it’s most realistic ever. Gone are the pre-determined routines played out time after time, to be replaced with – we hate this word, sorry – an "organic" and fluid game of footie.
This time though, you’re the one in control. You can prompt the players to try runs and set pieces, although they won’t follow your instructions all the time. That’s football Brian.
After another woeful performance you can name names to the press. In fact, you’re able to talk to the media any time and manipulate them as you wish. Just don’t turn any player’s screw too far or you’ll see immediate results on the pitch. Your squad feels like a collection of real people this time round, not just numbers with names attached to them.
The training, the transfer system, the works – it’s the best SI has ever offered. If you’ve got last season’s effort you may want to think twice about upgrading as the two are similar, but 2007 is the best footie title out there. At least until FM 2008 anyway.