Football Manager 06

There is one tiny problem, however. Unfortunately, if you don't have a hard drive, you'll be struggling. Firmly flying in the face of Microsoft's insistence that the core pack will play anything, you need the hard drive to play Football Manager 06.

Understandable, given that despite the underwhelming graphics it runs on one of the most powerful gaming engines ever created.

However, the performance is good and ticks over quite nicely - certainly faster than on your correspondent's creaking laptop. When there are a huge number of fixtures (such as Champions League, sorry 'Euro Cup' qualifiers) you'll get a series of footy trivia questions to tide you over.

Thankfully SI has dispensed with the always disappointingly sluggish 'mouse' pointer control system and it all works through using the bumper buttons to open menus and the analogue stick to scroll. A legend at the bottom of each interface page brings up several options for the face buttons.

It'll take a bit of getting used to but we reckon it'll soon become second nature. And then there's the Live play.

It's not quite the full game with transfers included, but you can export your team at any time to play in a cup or league competition with up to 16 players. Get ready for your life to end in March.