Your Sinclair1st January 1993
Published in Your Sinclair #85
Football Manager 3
Well, blimey. Another Speccy football management game, eh? Just what we needed. What next, I wonder? Football Manager Dizzy?
Football Manager 3, the latest in a long line, has had nearly ten years to take the best aspects of hundreds of other footy management games and turn them all into one indisputable, unbeatable classic. What's it come up with? Well, you get to pick your team, and choose which style they play in. You can buy other players, by ringing up their manager on the telephone and offering him lots of money - realistic or what? You can train all your players individually, so that some of them are really good and some of them are really crap (or something). You can, er, switch on a desktop computer and, um, see what games you've got coming up in the next few weeks. Or - AHA! - you can actually play a game and watch the action unfold in from of your eyes! Brilliant! Let's get on with it, then!
Swings And Roundabouts
Oh dear. The match sequence in Football Manager 3 consists of a tiny little rectangular pitch occupying about half of the screen, (with no centre circle or penalty-box arcs, natch) covered in little stick players even smaller than the ones in the original Football Manager, which all lurch around colour-clashing horribly. This is accompanied by a fantastic commentary along the lines of 'Number Six has the ball', 'Number Ten goes in for the tackle','Innes shoots','Graeme souness gets sent out from the dugout' and all that kind of thing. It is, frankly, crap.But, hey, it's not all bad. Apart from the rubbish match sequence, Football Manager 3 is all right, as far as this kind of thing goes. It's not quite up to the standard of Football Manager 2, to be honest, with vastly inferior presentation and graphics, and lots of hanging around while the computer thinks and doesn't seem to be working properly. Still, it's got enough statistics and stuff to be passably realistic, without having so many that you get completely lost in a maze of menus and totally bored. The front end leaves a lot to be desired, but I did really like the way it said 'Hello!!!' as its program name when it loaded up.
So, swings and roundabouts, really.
Why The Blimmin' Big Box, Then?
The most interesting thing of all about Football Manager 3 is probably its packaging. As well as a tape containing both the Speccy and Amstrad versions of the game (don't try and load the Amstrad version then come back ten minutes later and wonder why nothing's happened, like I did) and a tiny little bit of folded paper containing the instructions, you also get a cardboard box the size of Albania.
Why is this? Is it so that you can take the whole thing along to real football matches and use it as a rattle? I shouldn't think so. Is it so that you don't lose it in the piles of rubbish on the floor of your bedroom and then accidentally stand on it? Probably not. No, it's more likely something to do with that the software 'industry' calls 'perceived value'. Apparently, they think that if you see a huge great box on the shelf at WH Smith's instead of a poxy little cassette case, you'll automatically go 'Coo! That game's in a really big cardboard box, so it must be at least four times as good as one that comes in a box a quarter of the size! I'm going to buy that at once, and what's more it's such a great-looking package that I'll quite happily pay much more than the usual price for it. Hurrah!'
This is, of course, extremely stupid. As we all know, what you really think is 'Coo! That game's in a really big cardboard box, so it'll never fit in my tape racks, and it's so big that when I put it on the floor I won't possibly be able to avoid stamping on it and rendering it completely crumpled, tatty and crap-looking. I'll be avoiding that one like the plague until it comes out as a budget re-release in a nice sensible compact cassette case in six months' tims, that's for sure.'
Software houses, eh?
Uppers: Some nice options screens, lots of stuff to fiddle around with, and a great big box.
Downers: Crap highlights, dodgy control response, and all the players have stupid names. Decent enough, but you'd still be better off looking for the prequel. (Or come to that, the first one.)