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Football Manager 2009, a DVD-ROM in English by Sports Interactive and Sega, requires Windows XP and up and a 1.4 mhz PC or better, distributed by Hed Artzi Multimedia with an English-language user's manual, for all ages, NIS 219
There are two kinds of sports computer game fans - those who want to jump onto the field and play and those who prefer pulling the strings behind the action. This soccer manager game, which has come out in nearly a dozen previous versions and this time offers significant improvements, is strictly for the second group. A few years ago, the FIFA soccer playing simulation game introduced a small soccer-manager mode, but it really wasn't very satisfying as it offered the feature sought by those who like to sit on the sidelines and micromanage instead of gamers who care about nothing but competing.
Sega claims to have added some 80 new features in this version; most gamers won't notice the majority of them. However, the most prominent and impressive is a new 3-D match engine that makes the play look much more alive than the previous 2-D engine, which was introduced for the fourth version of the series and can still be used by less-powerful PCs. The 3-D feature presents confrontations among players almost as realistic as those in FIFA rather than circles representing the tactical players moving back and forth as if they were on a battlefield. And instead of viewing this action from above, you can see the players struggle to control the ball from a variety of horizontal camera angles.
Still, some bugs remain, as balls thrown at the sides of the field penetrate the sign boards as if they were invisible, and goalies often seem too lazy to stretch themselves to intercept them. One can hear the sound effects of the fans but, oddly, you can't see many of them in the stands. I tried to take care of my players but was annoyed by too many injuries on the field.
But there is much more behind-the-scenes action. The team manager must keep expenses within the budget and worry about endless other details. He must also confront sports journalists at press conferences, which can be used not only to inform but also misinform sports journalists. The wheeling, dealing, selling and purchasing of players are as complicated as coalition talks and cabinet minister selections. All in all, it's an addictive game for control-freak sports fans.
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