For the uninitiated, loading screens that reel off Champions League qualifying results without the use of pictures or individually selecting your entire team's marking strategy can seem like the same level of horrific as finding out your girlfriend's called Steve and not Eve. But for those who understand Football Manager, its depth, its realism, its everything-but-the-deep-heat approach, it's every bit as brilliant a representation of football as PES.
SI's greatest achievement with Football Manager on PSP last year was to get it to work on handheld in the first place. This year it's all about streamlining, while bumping up your options. Flipping between menus is easier, allowing for a greater degree of control as you wade through the stats. There's more tinkering too, and a more 'emotional' feel to the players, giving your team and the opposition more personality. They'll get the arse if a club comes in for them and you turn down the approach, for example, while you're also able to deal with your superstars on a more personal level, defending them, praising them... or giving them the hairdryer.
LESS IS MORE
In some ways, the PSP version supercedes the PC original. Having to edit down key features has given some areas of the game, such as training, coaching staff and, in some instances, tactics, more accessibility. The scope of coaching on the PC version is often so intimidating, you end up letting your assistant or coaches sort out who does what in training. Here, you don't get the chance because that area of the game doesn't exist in the depth it did, so training ground chalkboarding becomes a vital component of your pre-match prep, rather than one you ignore for fear of getting lost in the 1,904th screen.
Plainly, though, the flipside of this is that FMH, in being squeezed down, has also lost a little of its magic. FM on PC is outstanding because it offers the most accurate player databases of any football game on the market. In losing that, FMH also loses one of its big brother's best bits: scouting. Unearthing that genius 17-year-old from the South African townships doesn't happen any more and as a result, the to-ing and fro-ing of buying and selling gets lost.
But despite being a Lite version of a game that's built around complexity, FMH, Crouch-style, exceeds expectations and stands tall.
Inevitable sacrifices aside, FM Handheld takes last years version and builds on it. A portable port masterclass.
- Perfect hand-held format
- Realistically moody players
- Less than the PC version