LMA Manager 2003
At a time when console football management games couldn't be took seriously, LMA Manager arrived on the PlayStation. Complete with specially created interface and watchable match engine, the game was very successful indeed. When the PlayStation 2 arrived it was only a matter of time, before LMA Manager made it's appearance and it eventually did in the first quarter of this year. Now we have the Xbox, and Codemasters have furnished us with a Xbox version of their successful game. However this decision pits the game against the almighty Championship Manager for the first time ever. Previously the games have always been on different formats but this isn't the case anymore. How will LMA compare to the ultra realism of the Sports Interactive title? Let's find out.
If you've played any of the PlayStation 2 versions of LMA Manager then you'll know exactly what to expect with this Xbox version. Indeed it is disappointing that the graphics haven't been upgraded to suite the power of the Xbox. In fact in every way it's a direct port, which is disappointing but understandable because of the costs involved. Load times are quicker but not by a substantial amount and of course you don't have to worry about the save game space required because of the Xbox hard drive.
Championship Manager comes with 26 leagues of which 3 can run concurrently whilst LMA manager can run all of it's 6 leagues concurrently and all the game data is correct to the start of this season at least. While this seems like an advantage in favour of LMA manager it shouldn't be considered so. The Conference division is still not included and there are a number of factors about the game, unchanged from previous versions that are simply not accurate. My old complaint about small Scottish clubs such as Kilmarnock (no disrespect to Kilmarnock fans) offering 9 million for one of your reserves is sadly still valid.
Championship Manager has it's latest version out this Friday (6th Dec.) and this will have the new transfer system in place but at the time of writing, LMA 2003 is the only game to include it. This has a huge impact on the gameplay as you only have two periods (before September and during January) to buy players. This leads to a lot of frustration if you have a team of misfits who can't string two passes together and indeed you'll have to work on your tactics, but it's here that you'll find an old complaint. As before, you cannot move players when creating custom formations (which again you cannot name or save). Yes you can alter whether the players will press or play on the counter attack but you are stuck with the rigid formations of previous versions. Why on earth you can't put players where you want is a big mystery.
In LMA you can do as little or as much as you want. Some of the work you can do such as developing your stadium is actually not part of a real managers job description but it does make it all the more enjoyable if you take charge of a lowly team and not only build up the team but also the ground too. You can also handle the team sponsorship and hire and fire your backroom staff if you really want to (or if you do not want to you can leave such tasks to the Assistant Manager). Scouts can be fully employed in any manner you see fit and as well as checking out future targets for your team they can also watch the next opposition to tell you how the team plays.
As before the matches remain watchable but from all of the included camera angles it remains difficult to get an overview of the effectiveness of your tactics. It would have been great if a complete overhead view of the pitch had been included so you could see what your players were doing at all times. Orders can be shouted to your players via button presses during a game which is a nice feature and can have the desired effect if your team is struggling.
Graphically the game doesn't differ from LMA Manager 2002 on the PlayStation 2 which doesn't mean the game looks bad but does come as a disappointment if you were expecting an improvement over the PlayStation 2 version. The matches look OK though, and if you dislike the text and imagination combination that Championship Manager relies on, then you will probably prefer the visual approach of LMA Manager 2003.
The game is fine for deaf gamers. The highlight section and the cup draws aren't subtitled but this is hardly a problem and the game is no less enjoyable without the verbal material. All other information in the game is text based so there are absolutely no problems at all. The manual is quite good and explains all you really need to know to begin playing the game.
So back to the initial question of how it compares with Championship Manager then. Well in terms of realism the short answer is that it doesn't. LMA Manager 2003 is a very good game that I'm sure will satisfy all who buy the game but the silly transfer fees from 'little' teams who in real life can hardly afford the players' wages let alone multi-million pound transfer fees and the rigid tactical system that allows for little customisation, are just two of the problems that LMA Manager 2003 has. You can't give individual player orders or arrange complex transfer deals either, which is a shame. Championship Manager is now the best console football manager game but LMA Manager 2003 is still a very good game that football fans would be silly to miss.
Overall Game Rating: 8.2/10 No longer the greatest console football manager game but it's still a very good game that no football fan should miss.
Deaf Gamers Comment: Highlights and cup draws are unsubtitled but everything else is absolutely fine for deaf gamers.