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I am a great fan of football manager games, my favorite has been the Championship Manager series since it first came out for the Amiga all those years ago. During that time many companies have attempted to takes CM's crown, they have all failed, how will The F.A. Premier League Football Manager 2000 fair? Read on:
Installation, Settings and Intro
When installing The F.A. Premier League Football Manager 2000 you have 3 different installation options. Typical, Minimal and Custom, I selected Typical which installs over 200 MBs of data to the hard drive. Once installed it is time to selected the 3D Setup information. The F.A. Premier League Football Manager 2000 runs in 800x600 and the in-game 3D Match graphics are done by using The F.A. Premier League Stars graphic engine (So you are stuck with 640x480 with those). The game begins with the obligatory EA Sports FMV intro, yet again nice to watch once but never again.
When you finally get to the first menu you get the following list of options:
I checked out the settings area first, from here you can change the way you view matches, you can either let the match be played out and just get the result, have an on-view page of all the latest scores, watch short highlights from you games via the 3D engine or go the full hog and watch the whole game via the 3D match engine. I went for the highlights option.
Before you begin The F.A. Premier League Football Manager 2000 you must first choose your team of choice, mine as always is Cambridge United (My home team) who play in the English 2nd Division. As usual with EA Sports games, the menus are all great to look at. The first thing I did was to check to see if the Squad details were all correct, for the most parts they are all right, but there are a few players out of positions.
The main area from which you view statistics, stadium date and results are all in full view, moving the mouse over to the right side of the screen brings up a pop-up menu where you can jump to different sections such as training, results, transfers, and you can also move to the business area where you can employee new staff, change ticket prices etc.
The F.A. Premier League Football Manager 2000 has many new areas over the first title in the series that EA Sports released, the changes are all for the better but there is far more detail for the Premier League teams and not enough for the lower league teams which is a bit of a disappointment for most football fans who are not as interested in the premier league or who support other teams.
Managing your squad is quite an easy task, moving the players about to different positions is just a question of drag and drop, changing the way players play in terms of crossing the ball or doing through balls, the team formation, penalty takers etc can all be done from one page called Team Tactics. The difficulty level is quite high too which is in my view a good thing, but another bad point I noticed during the game was the amount of money certain clubs have available to spend on new players at the start of the season, it was yet again unrealistic, since when has Cambridge had £100,000 to spend on new players, let alone the 1.8 Million they are given in this game.
Buying players is done by the EAMail system (Shown Above), from here you e-mail managers/players offers and speak to other members of your staff, it is quite a nice feature, if a little fiddly to use but works well. There are a few features that appear in The F.A. Premier League Football Manager 2000 that do not come up in Championship Manager. For example, you can better your stadium in terms of seating, drainage etc, while this is all well and good, in real life managers only have a small say in these matters though. Perhaps a feature where you request these kinds of upgrades to your directors would be more appropriate.
Graphics, Sound & Music
As I mentioned earlier The F.A. Premier League Football Manager 2000 has some great looking menu designs. The 3D Match Engine uses the F.A Premier League Stars graphics engine, I don't like the look of it much compared to a game such as Fifa 99/2000 but for a Manager game it is more than adequate. The sound is also basically the same as was used in F.A. Premier League Stars too, but the commentary is a little worse this time around as there are not as many varied responses from Martin Tyler and Andy Gray. In games like these though it isn't really the graphics that can add to the grades, just the gameplay, detail and realism.
This is one of the few new football management games that has come out recently that gets a bit closer to challenging Championship Manager, but there isn't enough here to say that it can take on the giant and win. The 3D Engine is a nice touch over CM's text based management, but there is still so much more detail and realism in CM that The F.A. Premier League Football Manager 2000 doesn't reach into. The interface can also be a little fiddly when moving between menus, selecting players and moving on to new games. But one thing it does have going for it is the price (In the UK at least), it is surprisingly cheap for an EA Sports game.
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