Right, LMA Manager it is, then. We're in charge of those super-stylish magpies Notts County, we've picked ourselves a suitable beardy managerial avatar to scare/galvanise our players into action, we've just won our opening game at Wycombe 2-1 and we're feeling pretty good about things. All we need now is another goalkeeper and things will be 'supercool'.
Okay, so where's the player search option? Is it the symbol of a man running? Oh, that's the training screen. Perhaps it's the little pic of a ball? No, that's our financial information - get it off the screen. Perhaps the pentangle...? Oh.
See, there's a reason why most title screens communicate using the roman alphabet rather than Heinz Manchester United Pasta Shapes; because although it's not as cute, it's a fair sight more accessible for the player.LMA '07 is obsessed with shortcuts, but its weirdo main menu, which relies heavily on the shoulder and trigger buttons, is needlessly, endlessly niggly and causes a phenomenon known only as 'pain o'plenty'.
Above: Only the flat-pack fans really let down the 3D match engine
It's a shame that the menu system is so labyrinthine and twitchy (as an example, flick the stick diagonally by an increment of a couple of degrees and you'll immediately default to the top of the list, which is teeth-grindingly inconvenient while navigating a veeeeery long transfer list), because the 3D match engine itself has a lot going for it.
While Football Manager's flashing bars and sprinting pogs are all well and good, it can't compare to actually seeing the Notts County back four step on the ball or Lawrie Dudfield blundering into the offside trap for the eight millionth time. It's a convincing game engine with decent weather effects and nice stadia, with only flatpack fans spoiling it.
But it's very easy. Within a couple of hours we'd smacked Barnet 7-0 and Torquay 7-1, this with only rudimentary tactical tweakings. You can make things more difficult for yourself in many different ways, and this is why it's a shame LMA isn't better, because some of its ideas are brilliant.You can turn off visible player attributes, thus requiring more reliance on scouting reports and your own managerial intuition.
Above: An HD TV might be a good idea if you want to read all the tiny text
But regardless, this is the Sven-Goran Eriksson of managerial games; it's a hotch-potch of ingenious ideas and Walcott-selectingly stupid oversights. They should know better by now, especially at this price.