LMA Manager 2005
Developer: Codemasters
Publisher: Codemasters
Release Date: Out Now
Players: 1-2
Words By:

You’re watching your team from the sidelines. They’re playing crap. You yell tactics from the dugout and pull off the laziest dogs but still no progress. It just isn’t your day. After the match, your assistants tell you that the board wants a meeting, and that your best striker is leaving. With your wife. This slightly overwhelming feeling is as welcome as a stale meat pie on the north stand in LMA Manager, now returning onto the field with a new line-up.

For those unfamiliar to the world of LMA, it’s a lot different to the old-school footie management sims like Championship Manager. Even on the easiest mode, the game gives you a lot to play around with, and each section can be dissected into even smaller bits now; players can train specific tactics, you can assign secondary positions to players, build either new wings onto your stadium or just renovate the old ones, or assign scouts to take a peek at the opposition team’s style and weaknesses. If you’re not used to it, then it can be pretty daunting at first, finding yourself accidentally scrolling through these menus when all you wanted to do was check a player’s full stats. One thing LMA really lacks is a nice user-friendly tutorial, to point out the sections and make sure no-one gets lost before they start.

Also unlike Champ Manager, where I could simply pick a cool team and formation and let rip, LMA makes you work for those precious points. Your team will not perform well if you don’t vary the training each week, and the arrogant players like strikers’ morale goes down if they get left on the bench too often. This game is seriously tough to get the knack of, and if you haven’t played one before, you will lose your first couple of games. Things do get a lot easier after the honeymoon period though, and some functions that seemed pretty tough at the beginning starts to come natural.

Moving further away from the number-crunching sims of old, and more towards armchair gaming, LMA also lets you watch you team crush (or be pummelled by) the opposing team in 3D glory. From the looks of it the graphics have had an overhaul, and the player animations look smoother than ever. If only they had commentators, you could imagine you were watching a game. But that’s not the case here, you’re not watching, you’re a manager, and you’re supposed to be working, so stop lazing about and shout some stuff at your players! With a quick press of the shoulder buttons you can yell generic comments such as “get up there!” or “keep it!”, which will (apparently) change your team’s tactics a bit.

After the game Barry Davies still handles the highlights, and everyone’s favourite Scot Andy Gray joins Gary Lineker for the discussion, and they share the limited phrase count between themselves, which is still unfortunately smaller than the chance of Gary Neville actually pulling.

Also new on the boards is what should prove to be an interesting option come January - downloadable updates for the player lists, team sheets and transfer details through your Network adaptor, making this game potentially the longest-lasting footie sim yet, since all those Champ manager games sold were only because the old teams were out of date! I would speculate that with this, no LMA Manager 2006 is required, but I’m sure there’ll be something essential that Codemasters develop for next year…

There’s also a reason to wipe the dust from your Sony EyeToy, since LMA also has the option to take snapshots of your ugly mug in several poses as manager – that’s “happy manager”, “sad manager”, and a “manager secure in his job” (that’ll be a smug face then?). The game then shows your portraits depending on what position your team (and job) is in. It may only be a little touch, but it’s the little touches that score goals.

LMA Manager 2005 is a very intensive footie sim, with teams from the conference to the premiership, as well as countless international leagues, or the chance to create your own team, and to update team info via the internet – if this is your sort of game it will suck you in like a hungry hungry hippo. There’s more than enough to keep the potential Wenger (or maybe even Sir Alex) busy, but is very uninviting for those new to the series. Without a tutorial the game appears pretty daunting with its plethora of menus which all need to be studied and altered before each game. To use a footballing analogy, the game is a strong side with some top key players, but needs to focus more on simple play rather than try anything fancy and risk losing possession. All in all, a strong contender for the title, Gary. I’ve been Andy Gray, and this has been LMA Manager 2005.

Best Bits

- A very intensive game.
- More leagues.
- Better graphics.
- Online updates.
- Andy Gray!
Worst Bits

- Perhaps a bit too intensive.
- Graphics still look a bit behind the times.
- The voice acting is still too limited.

by: Crazypunk

Copyright © Gamecell 2004