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LMA Manager 2005

Rating: 3+ (PEGI)

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LMA PROFESSIONAL MANAGER 2005

LMA PROFESSIONAL MANAGER 2005 is without a doubt my favourite PC football management simulation!

The game is extremely in-depth, with tonnes of statistics which really do make a difference in how it is played, but still successfully manages to retain fast and addictive playability.

Like with most managerial simulations, effort is required to play the game well - although in this case we are helped by a clear, concise and user-friendly interphase. The game may be incredibly complex but very soon we are navigating the well-designed menu screens with ease and everything is easy to find.

The world of the Football Manager is explored in great detail. Almost anything is possible, from building stadiums and the hiring/firing of staff to player contracts and training. If all this becomes too much, simply let the club's dedicated staff take the burden and instead concentrate on the players and winning matches.

The wealth of data is almost overwhelming - with 50 countries and 1120 clubs, plus tens of thousands of individual and unique players! Typically each player is rated for 17 skills (tackling, intelligence etc) while Goalkeepers have yet more including diving, awareness and shot stopping!

One outstanding feature is the transfer market, which is constantly changing. Players can be scouted and there is also a name search, allowing us to find any footballer with ease. Alternatively search conditions can be specified (for example, a left-sided Defender within a certain age limit and price range who is out of contract with his current club etc) and potential purchases can also be offered loans or trials. Bargains can be had due to the "Bosman" ruling - which proves to be a problem when our own players refuse to sign new contracts after their current one has expired!

What makes or breaks a managerial game is the match itself and here LMA PROFESSIONAL MANAGER 2005 really delivers. Three modes are available - Instant Result, 2D Quick Match and Watch The Match. Of the three the later is the best and most interesting, a true 3D representation of the game which can be paused at any time for tactical changes, to make substitutions or simply keep an eye on match statistics. The graphics are very detailed (although, rarely, the action will slow slightly when lots of players are on screen) and every man has an individual look, ensuring that we feel even more involved when we begin to recognize members of the team! Game speed can be modified during the match and the player names toggled on or off.

Although a couple of years old and obviously out of date - LMA PROFESSIONAL MANAGER 2007 is now available - this version is still highly playable and, at this bargain price, still one of the very best football games on the PC market!