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This is my fourth year of playing and I'm still as much in love as my first day. This is the best football strategy game in the world, a strategy gamers dream, and it's free.
Here, every footballer in the best league in the world is listed with stats, history and player profiles. It's a web based football management game which runs the full length of the football season.
This game is a real life game; it's like Championship Manager for grownups. You manage your team with real players whose performance from one week to the next can bring joy or sorrow to your team. As you listen to the weekend's matches played out over the radio, TV or being at the match in person; you're thinking what your players are doing and how well they are playing for you.
Perhaps the most telling sign that this is a true perpetual gamer's game is that you spend more time thinking about it than you do in front of your computer playing it. You become inexplicably linked with the players in your team and have an unhealthily interest in the performance of teams at the other end of the country. Although you are only technically playing for maybe 30 to 60 minutes a week (making transfers and picking your team) the rest of the time you're thinking about it. Maybe making the occasional nerdy note in your pocket, as the managerial epiphanies come flooding in.
You spend more time thinking about it than you do in front of your computer playing it.
The game interface is smooth and deep. You only have to deal with the wealth of player statistic if you want to. Although you generally find those who explore these stats do better over the season, the game still functions for the more casual player. If you do use them you find them robustly maintained as each match is analysed closely. The result is a scoring system that you find growing confidence in.
Fantasy Premier League gives you a strong sense of ownership too. Despite being played by 1,500,000 people all over the world, you login each week to be greeted by your hand picked team who have waxed and waned for you all season. You take steps of faith to trust the big names in the league or go with the less known players hoping for a big upset.
Local leagues can be set up with friends or colleagues, and each league itself fits into the huge worldwide picture of players. This works really well at work, and you quickly find that coffee breaks and water cooler chat soon turns to things football.
Driving to work one day last season, I heard on the radio that one of my players has been selected to play in the mid-week European match - the famous Steven Gerard. While this is great for Stevie, it could well mean he'll be rested for the weekend's premiership match against relegation hopeful(!) Derby. So as I pull into my parking spot at work I type a reminder note into my phone, 'Sell Gerard'. But then again he was a real hero for my team the weekend before, sot eh note get's edited with 'Sell Gerrard maybe'.
Is this game a true perpetual video game or is it just a fancy website?
So here we are waiting for the new season to begin and watching the thousands roll into the Fantasy Premier league website, secretly plotting their wonder team. Just yesterday a friend told me he had crafted a killer team, which he then went on to tell me about in detail. This sent me spiraling off to make some adjustments of my own which of course will remain equally hush-hush, at least for now.
Is this game a true perpetual video game or is it just a fancy website? Well, if a game is judged on its ability to fit and fill your waking hours then Fantasy Premier League must score highly. Perhaps, just perhaps this game is truly a stroke of strategy gaming genius.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: