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Just another manager's diary?

Title : Alex Ferguson's Player Manager 2001
: PlayStation
: 3DO
this review in our forums

I first got this package, I wasn't sure what was in it, so to my shock I found this, Alex Ferguson's Player Manager 2001. Being the life long Chelsea fan, I felt like throwing it in the bin, however I thought of maybe giving it a chance first. This review will, of course not have any bias but we all know who the best team in the Premiership is don't we?

er management games have been made famous by one title over the years, and that of course is the Championship Manager series. However while I know scores of people that play Championship Manager as their lives depend on it, they were restricted (for a time) to just play it on their PC. Many would say that this type of game wouldn't be suited to a console environment with it's joypad controls. The challenge was to port a football managerial game that was manageable (no pun intended) and not tedious to control via a joypad. Finally it seems that someone has been successful.

the start it is clear to see that some thought has been put into this game. Not only can you manage any team in the top 4 divisions in England, but clubs in Scotland too. This gives the players a lot more choice and the chance to experiment and experience the Scottish league too. Once you select which league you want to be a manager in (Scottish or English), the Clubs themselves, the fixtures and the finances behind each club is generated. This can take a few minutes, but it's quite understandable, since the amount of information it has to sift through is large. After all that has been generated, you can choose which team you want to manage. The information on teams is up to date with the start of this years season (August 2000).

ou can either be offered the position of player manager or just manager. In each case the game is almost identical, however being a player manager you are able to pick yourself for the team. Once you have made your choice you are then transported to the managers office.

is where you spend the majority of your time in. From this screen you can manage your current team, make bids for other players, and see the fixtures table. When I first saw the screen I found it a bit daunting, however it isn't very hard to navigate, and is quite intuitive.

ou are also able to view other teams information from the Managers office, and some of the information is quite interesting for any football fan.

managers weekly tasks can be selected to be done in one go (i.e. a week at a time), or alternatively you have the choice of going through each day at a time. I was a bit disappointed with the fact that you don't do any tasks yourself, you just watch a splash screen which occasionally spurts out transfer information or player injuries in your team. My initial disappointment was unfounded however, when I thought about the fact that is players were able to do managerial tasks other than picking the team and doing tactics (the fundamentals) the complexity of the game (especially in console format) would increase vastly. This might also require more knowledge of football, and it's not right to assume things like that.

ce you come up to match day, you have to select a team, and if you have injuries you would have to substitute players. Tactics and various other bits are also set up before the game and then you are given aThe scanner view (click to enlarge) choice of which view to see the game from.

ou have three views when watching a game in progress. The first one, called "scanner" gives you a view from the blimp (over head) which shows the ball being passed from player to player. The players are represented their numbers, and scores along with various other information such as bookings and goals are given. They managed to balance the time it takes for the 90 minutes to pass, one of the main problems is that how long to make the 90 minutes last, and here they managed to get three different modes which cater for all. In this viewing mode it takes on average 1 minute for the whole game to pass, however I didn't include the half time tactical adjustments. Obviously different games will vary with fouls and other injuries.

href="http://www.digitalgamer.net/images/reviews/playermanager/view.jpg" target="_blank" title="Quick Watch mode">Watch mode (click to enlarge)If you want to see the game in more detail, you could either choose Quick Watch or Watch. The main difference between the Watch modes and the Scanner is that you are able to see the players themselves move.

time taken for the 90 minutes to elapse in the "Quick watch" mode is slightly slower than in the Scanner mode. In the "watch" mode, it takes roughly 12 minutes for a full game, and you are able to see all of the action on the pitch, from close range. The marks on the field left by a players diving tackle can be seen. This level of detail is quite impressive.Quick View mode (click to enlarge)

Watch mode allows you to see the full stadium and gives you a shot of every player on the pitch. This is the half way point between the scanner view and the watch view. The ball is represented by a white dot which has a long green tail to show it's movement. It is relatively easy to follow, and the game goes along at a decent speed.

the watch modes you are able to see some of the claimed 122 new player motion captures. Player's movement on the ball is certainly very good, and I was impressed with the amount of detail there was when watching a game. While this is supposed to be a managerial game, it caters well for the person that also wants to see some action on the pitch too. Saying that, it isn't FIFA 2001, and it never was meant to be, but it is quite impressive to see such graphics.

g half time you are able to make tactical changes and substitutions to your team. You are also able to give specific players tasks to do, and set a player just to take free kicks or corners. Navigation through this screen can be quite daunting when first using it, however after a few goes you easily get to grips with this.

every game you are given the score and various other statistics about the game (who was voted man of the match, etc.). Before you are taken back to the managers office, the results from various other divisions come in and you are taken to the results page, where you can browse through various other results from other divisions.

league tables that are presented to you once all the results come in, and it covers all the divisions and cup competitions including the two European cups. It is fairly easy to navigate between the different divisions and the scores are clearly displayed.

general navigation within the game is not very hard to get used to and once you have made your way around it once you won't have trouble again. Some of the options can be hard to understand for anyone who doesn't know much about football, but if you don't then you really shouldn't be playing this game.

also found the screens warning you that the players aren't responding well to your training regime well a nice touch, and while it might show my lack of skills as a football manager, it does show that there is some nice details that have been put into this game.

Alex Ferguson's Player Manager 2001 is a nice game to play if you are a footie fan. If you always had the ambition to manage a football club, then this game will feed that passion to a certain extent. The interface problems that had to be solved when thinking of porting any game of this nature has been fixed to some extent, however in doing this they also had to restrict some of the features that you might expect from a player manager game.

"in game" graphics are very good and worthy of mention. The player's movements are smooth and the detail in their movements are high. One point I would like to raise is the fact that in "Scanner" view the player that has the ball can be quite hard to track, and this can cause difficulties if you want to follow the game. The elapsing of time during a match has been calculated very well, with a full game not taking too long, neither finishing too quickly.

you want pure football action, this game is not for you. This game is set out to be a managerial tactical game, and it does that job without any trouble, and as an added bonus you get some very nice in-match graphics to savour. The game goes into suitable depth with tactical decisions and assumes you have some general knowledge about football. On the whole, a well made game with some nice touches.

give it a well earned 8/10.