The marriage-wrecker has returned in its latest iteration of the Football Manager series and its bigger than ever!
Those in the know went immediately to Football Manager - after all it was Sports Interactive who had made the game and if anyone could keep the same addictive qualities it was SI. Now, though, it's football's worst kept secret that FM, and not CM, is the game to play to get your football management fix.
SI's mantra of "evolution, not revolution" has been followed for a while now, and so it is that FM07 (or Worldwide Soccer Manager for our American cousins) contains a few completely new features, but mostly the introductions are simple tweaks.
The scouting system has been completely revamped and scouts have limited knowledge bases of certain countries - however the scouts can now learn as the game progresses, helping you uncover the next potential star. The old "regen" system has been scrapped which means that, when new youth players are introduced, they are no longer simply recycled player stats from recently retired players.
Other improvements include pre-match team talks, more board/player/media interaction, including the ability to comment on an opponent's player before and after the match in a bid to unsettle him.
So how does the game feel to play? Well, it maintains the familiar style we are all used to , once you have picked your match day squad it's time to go to the match where the roar of the crowd awaits you. Having said that, the sound is still of very poor quality and could be massively improved to give a greater match atmosphere. The match engine is still one of the most sophisticated simulations around and can produce some very impressive results.
That said, there are still major frustrations especially when your players perform inexplicable actions - such as a player through on goal in a one-on-one situation, suddenly deciding to pass to a player forty yards behind him. The latest patch available from the SI website fixes some but not all of these nuances.
The option to make and download custom content is a good addition as it adds to the game's ambiance.
Overall, this is a good game, it lacks some of the addictive qualities of previous incarnations which would cause you to ring in sick to work, but it's still got relationship-ending potential.