Football Manager 2007

Can the title favourite live up to expectations?

Whoever said football is a funny old game hasn't played Football Manager 2007. Winning and losing matches is deadly serious, affecting everything from your mood to your relationship with your girlfriend - a relationship that swiftly deteriorates once you find yourself playing Andriy Shevchenko more compliments than you do her in order to finally get him to start banging them in for Chelsea. Any game that can take over your life in such a way is both evil and extraordinary.

The reason it invades your life is the sheer breadth and depth of stuff to do. Initially it feels a bit overwhelming, like you've just been handed the England job the night before a World Cup final, but the revamped interface makes sifting through stats a breeze. You can either access everything through drop-down menus at the top of the screen, or hit the Left trigger to see the menus in one handy list. Half-an-hour in and you'll instinctively know the quickest way to pull up the information you need.

After sorting out necessarily mundane stuff such as training, it's time to put your footy knowledge into action on the pitch. There are hundreds of tactical nuances for individual players and the team as a whole, and the new pre-match team talk option affects their morale even further. While it's debatable how much influence adjusting each tactical slider has on the outcome of a match, the Football Manager series is still a dab-hand at convincing you that every decision matters. Most impressive of all is how the detailed text commentary breathes life and real emotion into the dots moving around on a 2D pitch, to the point where you shout and swear at the screen just like you would when watching a real game on TV.

And as far as the range of features go, anything you can think of is more than likely included - managerial mind games, tapping up, the lot. Don't be surprised if you end up caring more about your virtual team than the club that you support in real life.

The verdict

The best Xbox 360 footie management sim

  • The very latest stats
  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Tons of tactical options
  • Media interaction
  • Could prove too daunting
Xbox 360
Sports Interactive