LMA Manager 2003 Xbox
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LMA Manager 2003 Product Details
- Incredibly realistic match
- Create your own tactics & playing style.
- Full European player transfer market.
- Interactive highlights & replays.
- Play classic football team tactics.
- 32 ultra-detailed players per squad.
- Fast, easy-to-use controls & gameplay.
Howard Wilkinson as the new Sunderland boss??? Daz claims he could do a better job himself so we put his money where his mouth his and thrust him into the cutthroat world of LMA Manager.
For years I've kept my distance from management sims, not through some deluded feeling that they were somehow inferior to their football playing counterparts, but because being drawn into the deep and non-escapable world that is football management was something I couldn't afford to do. Responsibilities, family and the general living of life have kept these games just out of my reach, until now.
The family are now a distant memory, work is for wimps and the outside world is somewhere from whence my pizzas are delivered. I am a football manager, and my boys need my guidance.
The first decision you need to make when embarking on a new LMA season is: What staff do you need? Bear in mind that these guys will be running your team club affairs when you're taking care of more pressing concerns, so getting the best people is essential. For a beginner you're better off with the 'all staff option', which will leave you free to worry about the team formation and transfers, everything else will be taken care of to some standard or another. As the game progresses you can then dip in and out of the areas run by your staff to assess their performance.
Despite running Liverpool and having over thirty million in the bank you're still very limited on what you can fork out on staff. The board make the money available for player transfers, but not for hiring the three best scouts in the game at the same time. This doesn't really matter though because you'll only really need one scout, you can give him a standing order to watch your next opponents whoever they may be and he'll provide you with a report before each game. If you have other scouts they'll sit around waiting for your next order. Simply asking them to find you a top notch striker isn't an option either, you have to find the player yourself and the send the scout to check him out. This is where one of my scouts fell down, when sent to spy on Roberto Carlos of Real Madrid he returned saying that the player would probably be unwilling to take a few steps down considering the quality of his current teammates. A few steps down to join Liverpool? Naturally this guy received his cards on the spot. They do that there though don't they though?
The reports given on your opponents don't vary too much in terms of detail. You'll get info on their formation, success in the last game, their most influential player and their playing style. The same lines do get reused frequently when talking about very contrasting sides, for example Arsenal and Southampton are both described as fast counter attacking teams.
This info can then be used to configure your formation accordingly, if a team plays far up the field you want to use your strikers to play on the shoulder of the defenders and use their pace to get in behind. Fast long ball passes would be a good idea too. If your opponents play deep and hit on the break then you need to use the wings and get in behind them, ploughing through the middle will rarely produce results.
Luckily you'll have time to work on your formation when you play the full season mode, s you'll get to arrange three friendly matches against opposition from anywhere in the world. It was in these pre-season friendlies that a certain false level of confidence was attained. Thrashing Rangers and Dortmund may have seemed great results, but the frantic action of the Premiership was a different story.
You start playing the official fixtures of the 2002/03 season, meaning Liverpool kicked off with an away game at Villa. The European cup however receives a random draw, as the genuine draw for the competition was made too late to feature in the game. Celtic for example, are given the credit of actually beating FC Basle. Yeah, right.
It's also worth noting that all of the teams and players here in LMA are official, with a deep and extensive squad list for each team. Even bit part players are made immortal in LMA.
During this pre-season you'll feel the irresistible urge to delve into the transfer market. This is one urge you probably should act upon, money is no use to you once the transfer window has closed! I found my squad to be a little on the large side so decided to cut away some dead weight, players around the one million mark such as Vignal were out the door straight away. My efforts to lure a top quality striker to Anfield were in vain, all I could muster was a rather impressive young goalkeeper; which left me with four keepers and a closed transfer window. Damn.
Turning down bids left, right and centre for star players such as Hyypia and Owen I was strapped for cash, so naturally made the mistake of redeveloping the stadium. This is a cool feature, which allows you to build on any part of the ground using any one of a dozen or so predefined structures, including the San Siro in Milan and the evil Old Trafford. Each increases your capacity by several thousand, depending on whether you include director's boxes and corners to the structure. Bear in mind though that this will put you in the red leaving no funds for transfers, and you'll have a reduced capacity during the building time. End of season is best for this kind of thing.
When selecting your team's tactics you also need to select the individual team roles, such as captain and penalty taker. I found for some reason that Patrik Berger was regarded as one of my best players, with a superb free kick taking ability so he was assigned as free kick taker and corner taker. You can also select a man marker to cancel out an opposing player, useful when faced with Thierry Henry of Arsenal. The best feature here is the playmaker, pick your best and most influential player to receive the ball whenever possible so that all moves go through him. This can also be dependent on your playing style. If you are playing a fast counterattacking game then Michael Owen would be a good playmaker, for a slower more controlled approach Steven Gerrard or Patrik Berger would be better suited.
All of these tinkerings are great, but it's the actual matches that test your metal as a manager. Once you've analysed your opponents and selected your team and formation, you'll be able to take to the pitch and kick a ball in anger. Unlike many other management games, with LMA you can actually influence the game from the touchline by shouting out instructions to your boys on the pitch. You can select up to four playing styles to assign as shortcuts to the shoulder buttons and use them during the game. Styles such as Keep Ball, Counter Attack, All Out Attack and Defend are quite suited to Liverpool's playing style, but there are others.
You can then also make substitutions and change your formation at any point during the game if things aren't going your way. It's not as easy as it sounds either, when you need a goal to bring you back into the game and you're already playing an attacking formation there's little more that you can do. It's just up to the players on the pitch, which is very frustrating. You try and kick every ball, and throw yourself into every tackle, but it doesn't help. I'm certainly more of a Souness than an Eriksson.
The main focal point of the game revolves around your laptop. Each day you'll receive e-mails regarding training performances, bids for players, team reports etc. This is basically your link to the team. Contract negotiations with your players are conducted through here also, you offer them a new contract and they respond through e-mail. Very civilised, can't imagine Rio Ferdinand used his Hotmail account to get Man UTD to pay thirty million for him.
Note too that the Bosman ruling is in effect here, so keep an eye on those contract expiration dates. You don't want a fifty million pound player walking off into the night and joining your bitter rivals. By the same token, keep an eye on the contracts of other team's players. You could pick up a bargain from a team desperate to sell before they have to let a unhappy player walk. My heart yearns as I think of Robbie Fowler, curse you dirty Leeds!
Of course managing your team isn't just about success; you also need to keep your boys happy. If they're unhappy with their lot, their performance will dip. More money, bonuses and regular games will keep players happy, but you can't please everyone all of the time. When you have a big squad of top quality players it is difficult to get the balance right, but that's management.
Once a game has been played you're given the option of watching highlights on Interactive TV. This is where messrs Hansen and Lineker come into play. Big ears introduces the highlights and the dour Scotsman comments on the diabolical defending present in each goal. It's quite a thorough commentary, with many permutations but it's stunted into separate incidents, rather than a fluid highlights show.
Being new to management games and with no point of reference I can't compare this to FourFourTwo or Championship Manager, but as they don't compete on the console playing field it hardly matters. This is a deep game that I've only just begun to scratch the surface of, and it has me well and truly hooked. Just got to explain to the family now that the weekend trips are off, the shopping can wait and I've no time for the kids. I have an away-match in Velencia to prepare for.
+ : Incredible depth of play options
+ : The best management game on a console, by far
+ : Graphically pretty hot too
- : Frustrating watching rather than playing (like the real thing)
- : Loss of social life due to extended play
- : Nothing really springs to mind
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