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Nov. 18 2006
Football Manager Handheld - PSP Review
Release Date Distributor Publisher Developer
26/4/2006THQSegaSports Interactive
Save Size Difficulty Players Rating

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2-1 in Chelsea's favour.
After recently reviewing the PS2ís Letís Make a Soccer Team, I wasn't too keen on another football management simulator. However, one of the negative aspects to reviewing games is that from time to time you have to do a game you donít want to. So I reluctantly placed the UMD into my PSP and booted it up. The result was quite a lot nicer than expected.

Dating back to the early 90s, the Football Manager series has a strong following and is widely regarded as the best sports management game series so far. The latest incarnation, Football Manager Handheld is a nice attempt at reminding us all of the text-based origins of management simulation games. And so here are our thoughts on this game...

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Selecting your formation.
As can be expected from the series, Football Manager Handheld remains faithful to the general rules of management simulators. This means that there is no story to the game whatsoever. Upon booting the UMD, all that remains before starting a game is to create a profile in which to save your progress. This means that within mere minutes, players will find themselves busy managing a team, and even experiencing their first match.

In complete contrast to some other management games, Football Manager Handheld seems to focus more on simplicity, with very easily-to-navigate menus, and rather simple ideas behind the gameplay, this really is a game that anyone can pickup quickly. Unfortunately, due to this simplicity, it may also leave some fans of the franchise wanting more.

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Ohhh, a menu screen.
Between matches, simple transfers of players, contract management, and all the expected actions can be taken, and players will have to master all of these if they want to keep their board happy with their actions. It is also possible to switch you team mid-season. One impressive feature is the sheer amount of teams available at the beginning of each game. There is literally every major team you can think of from Europe available, and depending on which team you pick will depend on how hard your game will be. For instance, when picking a low-level team, it will be fairly easy to keep your board happy and impress them, however, picking a more successful team, while giving you access to much more money, will also require a lot more knowledge of the actual players and team itself to keep the job for long. This adds a lot of value to the game as players will be able to play time and time again and have a different challenge.

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Dealing in contracts.
One issue I have with Football Manager Handheld is that, while it is obviously based on the older text-based versions of management simulators, itís not much fun to watch the game while you play. The matches are played out with only a text-commentary and a coloured bar which represents the teamsí possessions so far in the match. However, this is also a lot better than having to sit through horribly animated matches as found in some other similar games. It also makes it easier to concentrate on managing your team during matches.

My real problem, however, is the incredibly obvious lack of sound. Aside from a singular Ďclickí noise, there is no music, no effects, or anything. While the game functions fine without these, and the lack of music means no accessing the UMD during game (increasing the battery life for this game), it is a real shame to see a game released without even simple background music. The inclusion of even some simple Midi quality music would have raised the score of this game considerably, as I found myself getting bored quickly due to the lack of noise.

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You should probably quit this game too!
As far as the games graphics go Ė without matches to animate, thereís really no issue. Football Manager Handheld's menus are simple and nicely coloured, making it easy on the eyes and appealing to look at. Itís fairly obvious that graphics was not a major concern for the developers, and the text-based nature of the gameplay really shines here.

I have to say, while Football Manager Handheld has helped restore some of my faith in management sims, there is still a lot of room for improvement here. People who like the genre are definitely going to have some fun, although it may also come off as a bit simplistic, while for newcomers, this is probably the best release to introduce you to the game style. However, with no multiplayer, and only one sound effect, as well as a lack of depth, This title probably wont be turning many heads.

Review By: Michael Hutchesson

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GRAPHICSSimple menusÖ thatís about it. They do the job, are easy on the eyes, but arenít much really.
SOUNDA single sound. This really is the lowest part of the game Ė even a few clicks would have been nicer!
GAMEPLAYItís simple, yet addictive. Suited to newcomers and veterans alike, to fans of the series may find it too easy perhaps.
VALUEThere are HEAPS of teams to play, and each is different. Great value.
OVERALLAs you can see from the scores Ė quite a mixed bag. Inclusion of multiplayer would have been nice, as would some more sound, but its still a good enough game for those who like the genre.

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