F.A. Premier League Football Manager 2002
It's become customary to dismiss every football management game as a worthless contender to the crown so steadfastly held by Championship Manager. And with good reason; CM is a realistic simulation of the football world you can lose every waking moment to playing. For once, let's admit right at the start thatftl Manager 2002 can never come close, and analyse it not as a CM challenger but as a computer game loosely based on the world of football. It's no use complaining that it isn't realistic, that player valuations and their stats bear only a passing resemblance to reality, that it feels too cartoony. As an undemanding game of fantasy football, the FA Manager series is probably the best option available at the moment.
Slick And Sum
FA Manager2002 is pretty much an enhanced and updated version of last year's release and, for those who don't know, is the kind of management game where you have to build training grounds before your players can train and surgeries before they can be healed. Its biggest selling point though, is that it features 3D matches, which is what all the Champ Man critics want. Being an EA title, it oozes quality of presentation and the kind of slickness you associate with FIFA titles. The colours are easy on the eye, and most screens can be found effortlessly in the dropdown menus. Among the improvements in this version are the training, which is now much more comprehensive, and lots of interface tweaks, including shortcuts to the most used screens and a scrolling bar at the bottom of the screen which keeps you up to date on transfers in true Sky Sports Live fashion.
Perhaps the biggest improvement on last year is the new Fastview match mode, which is a more colourful version of the Champ Man text-based match engine.
It's nowhere near as involving, but it sure beats the still dreadful 3D matches. These continue to use the STARS engine and consequently look grainy and low-res. The AI is still not much better, and players run around in a parody of football, shattering any illusions you might have had beforehand that this has anything to do with the real thing. As I said before though, you'll play this kind of game if you want something that's not too involving, where you can spend more time improving the stadium than tweaking tactics, and bring big stars to your small club. If you want the real thing, you know where to go.