For many gamers (and by 'many' we mean 'us'), the football season hasn't really begun until Football Manager is out. During the summer everyone finally gets hacked off with their old saved games, and even with the brilliance of FM, once you get to 2016 and your team is filled with the likes of Bryan Giggs and David Peckham even the utterly hardcore lose their will to carry on. And seeing as you've already taken Bath City to the top of the football pyramid, there's little left to do. So, new Football Manager action needed. Now.
Understandably, we're gagging for version 2007, especially as this year we're promised over 100 new features, as well as the unparalleled, fully updated player database which contains the stars of tomorrow - today! - and has everyone from gamers to managers scouring the virtual globe for the real players of the future. Once again, this year's game is an evolution - there's no 3D match engine, and graphically there's hardly a difference so players of FM 2006, only released last April, will find it a comfortable fit.
AT THE END OF THE DAY
However, similar as it looks, there's a number of new features that we've been loving getting our unhallowed hands on. First is the increased media interaction and teamtalks. There's now a wider range of 'motivational' talks, including setting your expectations out before the big game. Or, if it's not a big game or you're a few goals to the good at half-time, you can tell your over-paid, injury prone prima donnas to take it easy.
One of our favourite new features is the ability to set up feeder clubs. If you're a lower league team then this means a steady stream of talented young pros out for experience who'll bring the skill and necessary enthusiasm to compliment your troupe of grey, aging journeymen. If you're the bigger club, you'll get first refusal on any potential stars in exchange. Even better, if there's an awesome South American you fancy (and there are tons of 'em) but he's got as much chance of getting a work permit as Jason Lee has of making a return to top-flight football, you could ship him out to somewhere like Belgium where getting an European Union passport won't be so difficult and then bring him in a year later once he's skilled it up sufficiently. Ha! In your face, John Reid!
Throughout the history of Football Manager (formerly known as Champo), huge leaps have always been rare and this is no different. However, increased player interaction and improved engine and feeder clubs mean it's not just the updated database that makes this essential for budding managers. Time to buy some gum and get chewing.