LEIPZIG, Germany--As far as many football management aficionados are concerned, there's only one game on the market, and that's the aptly named Football Manager. However, there are a lot of fans out there who find the sheer depth of Sports Interactive's series slightly daunting, which is likely why EA Sports has continued to release its own take on the genre. Offering an inviting interface and the polish we've come to expect from EA Sports games, the last game in the series was an excellent starting point for those who fancy the football manager lifestyle. We caught up with the developer of this year's game to find out what it is hoping to add to the experience.
First of all, the interface itself has been given a visual overhaul and now supports resolutions up to 2,280 x 2,024 pixels. The update also follows the rule of thumb that more is better, so there are some leagues appearing in the game for the first time, including Australia, Ireland, and the Czech Republic. The designers have certainly been kept busy updating the core game because they've added 2,000 more official player images, as well as new competitions that include the Under 20s and Confederation Cups. They've also added 200 new objects for your stadiums.
One of the nicest touches we saw in FIFA Manager 08 was the localised newspaper updates, which came from best-selling British tabloid The Sun during the matches we saw playing as Liverpool. Likewise, if you're playing as France, the updates come from acclaimed football paper L'Equipe, and other countries promise a similar level of authenticity. The developer insists that it's important to keep abreast of the media's response to your management of the club because it will affect the morale of the team in general. This played a large part of the previous game; taking care of individual and overall motivation is an important part of the job. You'll have to constantly juggle the demands of your players, as well as making sure the board is satisfied.
Scouts will also play a much larger part in the game than before. You'll need to keep a constant eye on the youth team and transfer market to manage a successful club. Although it remains an accessible management game to get into, the general attention to detail in FIFA Manager 08 is looking very impressive so far. Being able to place Liverpool's training ground in a small English seaside town called Filey was a nicely realistic touch. On a more practical note, the ability to see x-rays of each player's feet and adapt their training routine to avoid injury was also a useful tool.
The main simulation mode in FIFA Manager 08 will again last 20 years, and as before, you will be able to see all matches replicated in 3D. The match engine itself hasn't been updated this year because that particular overhaul is being held over until next year's game. In the meantime, the game has been updated with all-new textures, and we noticed that players seemed to move in a more sprightly fashion than they did previously.
FIFA Manager 08 is currently 85 percent complete, so the majority of work now taking place is on ironing out the bugs and adding final polish. There are about six weeks to go until launch, so the team of 50 beta testers has plenty of time to make sure the game is up-to-scratch for the November 1 release. To find out if the team manages to pull it off, keep an eye on GameSpot for our full verdict later in the year.