LMA Manager 2006 PlayStation 2
Published by Codemasters
Developed by Codemasters
Release Date: Out Now
LMA Manager 2006, an introduction.
Console football management games have never been at the same level of those on the PC. In fact before Codemasters launched their LMA Manager series the football management games on the consoles were very poor. The LMA Manager series proved that a good football management game was possible on a console, when it appeared on the original PlayStation and it also proved that an interface that suited the gamepad could be created. Since then of course the series has moved to the PlayStation 2 and for the most part has continued to improve. LMA Manager 2006 is the latest game in the series.
What's the game about?
Some major elements of the LMA Manager series have undergone an overhaul in this 2006 version. The number of leagues on offer in the game (there are 8 nations' leagues in all including England, Scotland, Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Holland and Portugal) have only slightly changed in that 2 new divisions in the German league have been added and the French league also has an extra division this time around. Like the previous titles in the series you can handle the whole running of your favourite club if you wish or you can choose to let the AI handle everything except the tasks a manager would deal with in real life. Whilst a lot of the game is basically the same as in previous versions it's those elements that have been improved that make the game worth purchasing.
What's good about the game?
Essentially the game builds upon the good work of previous games in the series. The new match engine looks much better than it did in previous versions and the matches are more interesting to watch than they were in previous versions. A more realistic transfer system has been implemented and you can now arrange player swap deals, staggered payment options and contract clauses. The training has also been reworked and you can even watch your team perform in training matches. You'll now get training reports that will let you know who is or who is not performing to the best of their abilities. The game has two difficulty levels, normal and expert, with the normal difficulty level providing an overall rating for each player and the expert mode not having this overall rating to make the job of assessing your players (and other players in the game) more difficult. Codemasters have even included the ability to download a data update before you start a game. From around mid-February 2006 a new data update will be available that includes all of the January 2006 transfer dealings, which is definitely a nice bonus.
What's not so good about the game?
Whilst the LMA Manager series has always had the best 3D match engine of any football management game, and this 2006 version does look good, it's still far from realistic. I was disappointed to take charge of Cambridge United and find that I was expected to avoid relegation. Cambridge United fans will tell you that after being relegated last season, promotion is expected this year and not relegation. Load times for the match engine are quite long on the PlayStation 2 version which can be annoying. You still don't have an overhead view that enables you to see what all your players are doing at any given time during a game, which makes keeping an eye on your tactics far more difficult than it should be.
How does it look?
LMA Manager 2006 is easily the best looking football management game we've seen on a console. Codemasters have worked hard to smarten up the game's appearance and it is effort that has been well spent. The user interface looks much better than in previous games in the series and definitely looks as good as it could do on a standard TV. As we've already mentioned the match engine has been overhauled and the stadia and player models are all noticeably improved probably as much as is possible on the PlayStation 2. When you create a new game you'll notice that you have to pick a graphical representation of yourself. You'll see this character at intervals during a match and at other various times. You don't have many options for creating a virtual likeness of yourself though but the character models don't look that bad.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
LMA Manager 2006 won't give deaf gamers any problems. There are some items of speech such as the orders the manager shouts out (that you issue by pressing the relevant buttons) during the course of a match. The highlight commentary isn't subtitled either. None of this matters though and all the important information is shown in text. The game manual weighs in at around 40 pages, is well written and should answer any questions you have about the game.
Saying LMA Manager 2006 is the best console football management game this year really doesn't do it justice, given that it's only real rival is the appalling Championship Manager 5. This year sees the series get a lot of graphical polish and some major improvements in key areas. The 3D match engine still isn't realistic but it's definitely taking strides in the right direction and without a doubt it's the best 3D match engine in a football management game to date.
Overall Game Rating: 8.0/10
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LMA Manager 2006 successfully manages to improve key areas of the game and is not only the best in the series but is also the best football management game you can purchase on the PlayStation 2.