Total Club Manager 2003 Review
If you play this game for too many hours you could end up looking as haggard as Sir Bobby Robson

EA sports Total Cub Manager 2003, is the return of an old friend for anyone who has followed the development of football strategy gaming over the years. Yes, the FA Premier League Football Manager series, who's most recent updates, had felt almost as stale as the bread in my cupboard has undergone a "Total" overhaul including a new name and a completely new development team (EA Germany), tons of new features and an all important new match engine.

The game breaks down (as you would expect) into a certain amount of basic modes. Each of these modes has been dramatically modified from the previous FAPLFM releases and some of the new details within the features are what really help this game to fully immerse you into the roll of club manager.

At the core of the game lies the Training mode which is incredibly comprehensive. You can schedule up to 4 different training sessions per day, for every day of the week. The different types of training sessions are very specific, such as pressing, short passing, sprinting etc. You can even define different jobs for certain individuals.

Total Club Manager 2003 Review @

Training can seem like hard work and at first you will probably end up getting your assistant to take care of things. It's really satisfying though, when you see your team performing like you want them to after many weeks of hard work on the training ground. In my opinion training mode far surpasses the same feature in all other football manager games I've played.

The transfer system works well, although at times is seems too lenient and maybe a touch unrealistic. The Finance & Stadium section is kind of like you would expect. You can arrange sponsorship deals with clubs for billboard ads sell season tickets, create seating arrangements etc. If you make enough money you can even expand your stadium. Not many changes have been made to the tactics section. You have a large number of standard formations to choose from and you can also create your own custom formations. You can also give team orders or orders to individual players. One disappointing aspect is that you can only give one individual one order at a time. So you can't give a player the orders to 'attack' as well as 'cross'. A new feature is the ability to set determination. You have the ability to adjust your team's determination from 0-10 for each 15 minute period of the match depending on your team's morale. So if you are a goal behind you can rally your players up to get their backs into it, or if you are five goals up you can tell them to "take a chill pill".

Matches played can be viewed using the 3D engine, text mode, or just show the final result. The 3D engine is definitely the most fun and if you are not in a rush it's the best option. The 3D engine uses the FIFA 2002 graphics engine and is by far the best I have seen so far. You can actually see the effect your tactics have and when playing it you feel really in-control of the team, noting your team's strong and weak aspects.

Total Club Manager 2003 is (in my opinion) is the most complete soccer management game to date and I would definitely recommend the game to anyone who is interested in this particular genre.

8.5 out of 10