Total Club Manager 06 Impressions

We meet with Electronic Arts and get our first look at its upcoming soccer management game for the PC.

One of the games being shown for the first time at Electronic Arts' Hot Summer Night event this afternoon is Total Club Manager 06. A PC-exclusive this year (previous incarnations have also appeared on consoles), Total Club Manager 06 promises to improve upon its predecessor in a number of ways. Although fans of the FIFA/Total Club Manager "football fusion," which was a feature of the last two games, will be disappointed to hear that it won't be supported this year.

The most obvious improvements being made to Total Club Manager 06 are in the visuals department, where things are looking slicker than ever both off and on the field. Off the field, the drop-down menu system that you'll use to manage your team in between matches is accessible and intuitive. On the field, we watched a couple of believable matches being played out by teams of players whose movement, both in terms of their position on the pitch and their animations, was impressive. The version of Total Club Manager 06 we were shown featured optional information that appeared above the players' heads on the field, including their names, positions, playing styles, and fitness levels, and we were also able to move the camera around manually to keep tabs on players who weren't close to the ball.

One of Total Club Manager 06's most useful new features is undoubtedly its new match analysis tool (MAT for short), which, anytime you pause a match, will allow you to switch to a Football Manager-style 2D view and analyse aspects of your team's performance. You'll be able to play portions of your current and previous matches back in the 2D view, overlaying information such as successful passes from a certain player, your team's missed shots, player movements, and such. Besides its usefulness as a management tool, the MAT actually serves as a pretty good demonstration of how realistic the game's artificial intelligence is.

Much of your information in between matches will be presented in the form of an in-game Web site that updates daily with the latest news on player injuries, transfers, results, rumors, and neat features, such as player/team of the day results and polls for visitors to the site. The Web site system will be intuitive for anyone who has ever used the Internet, and it's superior to the systems used in many other management games, because it makes lots of different information accessible from a single screen.

Another neat feature of Total Club Manager 06 is that although only around 6000 of the players in its database will have photos on their profiles, you'll be able to add your own photos of them simply by adding correctly named images to the game's directory. You'll also be able to add multiple photos of yourself for use alongside in-game news stories about you, as well as assign photos to randomly generated players who are added to the game as your career outlives many of today's soccer stars.

In addition to taking care of your team's transfer activity and tactics, you'll have the option to get involved with other areas of management, such as ticket and merchandise pricing, and stadium expansions. You might want to opt out of that stuff if you're playing a four-player game, though, which will only be possible on a single machine, since no LAN or online support is planned.

We'll bring you more information on Total Club Manager 06 as soon as it becomes available.

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