Total Club Manager 2005
|a game by||Electronic Arts Deutschland GmbH|
|Platforms:||PC, Playstation 2|
|User Rating:||7.7/10 - 7 votes|
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|See also:||Manager Games|
Amid The frenzied speculation over the forthcoming Football Manager 2005 and Championship Manager 5, it's easy to forget EA's annual foray into the tactics and tantrums game. Total Club Manager is now in its third season, and offers an alternative to gamers who can't make the leap between watching dots on a monitor (as in Champ Man) and a game of association football. TCM 2005 makes that transition for you, with matches presented in proper 3D using a variant of the FIFA engine. Of course the suspicion has always been that the matches are largely meaningless, and that it's impossible to instill the reams of attributes and the variety of tactics on offer into a simple arcade game. The developers claim to have addressed this issue, and while it's still possible to get different results using the text engine and the graphics engine, this could as easily be put down to the random nature of football.
If you're going to have graphics, you might as well use them, and the good news is that the matches are actually watchable, clocking in at a respectable sub-ten minutes, replete with a passable Motson/ McCoist commentary. You can also switch between full screen action and a windowed mode, surrounded by the traditional trappings of management games such as player ratings.
Conventional wisdom dictates that once the players cross that white line, the manager can't do anything about the outcome. TCM attempts to buck this concept with a slew of manager commands that can be barked from the sidelines. So whether you're winning or losing, you can order your charges to defend at all costs or shoot on sight, for instance. Of course, whether it makes a blind bit of difference is again debatable, and the fact that players seem to blankly ignore most requests could be attributed to the fact that they're pig-ignorant ne'er-do-wells who aren't fit to wear the shirt.
Off the pitch, the interface is a largely bewildering affair, although thankfully such German' ideas as selling advertising hoardings can be delegated. As in fact can much of the game, leaving you with little to do but sit back and watch the action (of club and country should you choose to manage both simultaneously). And it can be mildly entertaining. Whatever the dot-watching purists maintain, there is something to be said for seeing your centre forward pick up a lofted pass, skin the defender and strum the ball into the onion bag.
In time, cracks do begin to appear, but as a third way to FM2005 or CM5, there is some value to be had, and it's certainly an improvement on previous years. While we can't imagine anyone getting divorced over it, you could feasibly get through a few matches a day without ruining your appetite.