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FIFA Manager 08

For: Mobile

Bit of a Mclaren

Product: FIFA Manager 08 | Publisher: EA Mobile | Format: Mobile | Genre: Simulation, Sports | Players: 1 | Format: J2ME | File size: 688KB | Reviewed on: W880i other handsets | Version: Europe
FIFA Manager 08 Mobile, thumbnail 1
Is there room for another mobile football management game? Once a neglected genre, now we've got the impressive Championship Manager 2008, Real Football: Manager Edition and LMA Manager 08 all duking it out at the top of the table. Can the Big Three become a Big Four?

EA Mobile certainly reckons so, and it's got the FIFA brand to back it up, even if FIFA Manager has been somewhat sidelined on PC by Champ Man and Football Manager. Mobile is a different bag of kittens though: there's more competition and nobody's dominating in quite the same way as on PC.

In FIFA Manager 08, there's a choice of five countries to manage in - England, France, Spain, Germany and Italy - with the top two divisions in each being playable. This makes us happy as Gaffer Dredge can command the mighty Norwich. ('Where are you! Let's be having you!' etc.) And as you'd expect from a FIFA game, all the team and player names are accurate - it's fully licensed up.

The first thing you notice about the user interface - especially if you're playing on a Sony Ericsson phone - is how similar it is to that company's handset user interface. The main screen has nine icons: Finances, Fixtures, Messages, News, Line Up, Training, Tactics, Transfers and Continue (the latter takes you to the next week/match). The Messages icon even looks like the one on your phone.

From here, you can control everything about your club. Messages is where you receive much of your information, whether it's the board outlining their expectations, transfer negotiations or post-match analysis from your assistant. By contrast, News lets you check various bits of information, including the next round of fixtures, your managerial profile and what the supporters think of you.

EA has wisely kept the micro-management to a minimum, so in Finances you just see an overview of your income versus outgoings, without having to fiddle with ticket prices and the like, while Training is just a case of picking two areas to focus on each week.

Tactics, meanwhile, involves simply picking a formation and playing style. Kevin Keegan would love this level of tactical simplicity; Jose Mourinho or Rafa Benitez wouldn't be so keen. At least it makes the game quick to get into.

Still we were puzzled by the Line Up menu, which simply presented a list of our players without any info on their abilities, until we realised that pressing left when they were highlighted takes you to their Player Details screen. It's not obvious, but once there you can see details of their age, value, position and skills. There's no way to compare players on-screen, however, so you'll need a good memory (or a notepad'n'pen).

Transfers are a bit strange too: everything seems to be in millions, so players are valued at £1m, £2m, £3m and so on - but nothing in between. If only the real world were that simple. It jars slightly though, in terms of the game's overall feeling of realism. There's also no transfer list or loans system - you just pick some attributes to search for, then bid on a player.

Matches take the form of text-based commentary only, setting this alongside Championship Manager 2008, rather than Real Football: Manager Edition and LMA Manager 08. Besides the commentary, you can move left and right through a success of informational tabs, showing your players' performance ratings, match stats, pitch area percentages, and letting you change tactics and make substitutions.

It works well, with a neat touch being the way the match itself pauses when you're on any tab other than the Match Screen, letting you ponder changes without missing any action. If you're impatient, you can ramp up the commentary speed to medium or fast, to make matches pass quicker.

FIFA Manager 08 is nicely put together, and certainly accessible for anyone who fancies a quick bash at taking their team to the top. There are some elements we really like too, such as the useful advice from your assistant (for example: "What a performance! However we were lucky as we could not keep the ball enough! Should we look at training more to keep possession possibly?").

However, it doesn't quite measure up to the kingpins in its field, particularly Championship Manager 2008 and Real Football: Manager Edition. You get your team organised, make a couple of transfers, and then just keep clicking Continue while tweaking your Training according to the advice. And that's it.

By necessity, there's a certain amount of dumbing down for any football management sim that transfers from PC to mobile. However, it feels like the process has gone too far in this case. FIFA Manager 08 isn't a bad game if you just want a quick bash, but if you want deep managerial depth, then you'll have to look to one of its rivals.
FIFA Manager 08
Reviewer photo
Stuart Dredge | 22 January 2008
It looks good on the surface, but FIFA Manager 08 lacks the depth to make a true Championship bid
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