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Football Manager is a phenomenon on the PC. Thousands have lost their lives to its yearly updates where you get the chance to fill the boots of your football team's manager. This PSP version ports the behemoth to the smaller screen, but in doing so they have taken away all the interesting bits, so you're left with a pretty simple game of football.
On paper, Football Manager 2009 PSP should beat any team in the land. It's the dream team - Football Manager 2009 on the slender and cinematic PlayStation Portable. The opportunity to be a manager on the move was appetite-whetting, especially as I am a self-confessed Football Manager addict. I unwittingly wandered into the bear trap with Championship Manager 99/00 as a fresh-faced teen. A decade on and I am a craggy, irritable pretend manager who spends his days in work waiting to get home so I can make an audacious £20 million bid for Rory Delap. If I can make him part of my intricate Liverpool FC cog, then surely I'll be able to wrestle the title from Scunthorpe United (I'm in the 2015 season, incidentally).
Football Manager - in whatever form or version it comes in - is utterly addictive. There is always a window running in the background on my PC, it's a testament that it remains so good year in, year out when so little is updated to the formula. I'll admit, I cheat sometimes. I uninstall it, mess with the database - transfer funds and the like. When I was younger, if I didn't win, I would restart the game constantly until I won a particularly tough match. Football Manager is probably the worst thing an armchair football fan could possibly get their hands on. It fills them with dangerous opinion and convinces them they can do the job in real life.
Football Manager - in whatever form or version it comes in - is utterly addictive.
So, the prospect of sitting on the hour-long bus journey to work every morning and being Benitez was lip-licking. I did wonder, however, how they could fit such a behemoth game onto a UMD. After half-an-hour of playing I realised how they had done it. They took all the fun away.
There's no draw to the PSP version. All of the intricacies have been taken out of the game thanks to scaling it down. Starting things up is normal, the lengthy loading times are still there as you select your leagues and nations. And that's where most of the similarities end. Training, tactics and transfer manoeuvres have been made as blunt as possible, making the PSP incarnation feel like nothing more than a glorified game of Top Trumps. You could argue that Football Manager 2009 is a more arcade-like experience because of this. Matches still play out, though predominantly via text as highlights are limited because of the scaled-down engine.
The fun of football manager on the PC is working out where you're going wrong. Maybe you need to spend some more time on the training field and adjust the players' workload. Maybe they need Tuesdays off. Or maybe it's your tactics, maybe your left back should stop making forward runs. Indeed, maybe it's just you and the way you treat your players. Have you been overly critical to them in the press? Better give them a run of matches to show your gratitude to their contribution. Or maybe you need to be softer on the entire team during half time team talks. Or tougher? Figuring out where you're going wrong in search of perfection on the field is a drug that has no cure.
I'm probably so gutted because I'm such a convert to the Football Manager series on the PC.
There's none of that addiction on the PSP, or, if there is a variation of it, it's very limited and thinly spread. Training is probably the most disappointing aspect, you get no scope to give players any direction or individuality. You lump them in any old category. Tactics are preset and media intervention is limited. By taking away all of the things a manager is supposed to do, the PSP itineration may as well be renamed called Director of Football Manager, such is the hands-off approach.
I'm probably so gutted because I'm such a convert to the Football Manager series on the PC. It was always asking too much to have an identical version to carry around in your pocket, it simply isn't possible. Managers themselves - top class ones anyway - have a mess of things to organise throughout their daily management. By taking away all the interesting bits, all you're left with is the game of football. And, in my opinion, that's the least interesting thing about Football Manager 2009.
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