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Football Manager 2010 Review

Football Manager 2010 pack shot
Developer:Sports Interactive
Publisher:SEGA
Genre:Football Management Simulation
Platform:PC
Official Site:http://www.footballmanager.com/
Release Date:October 30th, 2009 (UK)
Reviewer:Craig Dudley (Mani)
 

It's deliberately been very long time since I played a Football management sim, in fact all the way back to one of the very first ones on the ZX Spectrum in the mid 1980's. Those games stole so many hours of my youth it was ridiculous, something I wasn't all that keen to allow again. Addiction is a hard thing to recover from.

Still, here I am, I've managed to play a couple of seasons with Sports Interactive's latest offering and I'm still functioning, still getting up for work in the morning (just) and still finding time to actually write this review. I don't think I'll play another season soon though, that would be risking getting sucked in totally and losing all perspective.

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The Football Manager series has the reputation of being very deep and potentially very complicated, if you want it to be that is. But as I'm a bit of a newcomer I didn't delve into the depths of individual player instructions, watch each game at a snail's pace in order to make minute tactical changes from moment to moment, spend hours creating loads of formations in the tactics creator or disregarded my social life so I could pick apart past performances in the match analysis tool. I'm a newbie so I kept it simple, I did however still enjoy myself.

Each game of Football Manager 2010 is very customisable; choose from most of the leagues in Europe, several in Asia, South Africa and also North America and Australia. You can even add several of the leagues if you think you might wish to take a job in a different country, be warned though; every league you add will slow things down and massively increase the number of potential signings. For simplicity I only included English leagues but selected all the way down to the Blue Square Premier and jumped in.

Thankfully there's plenty of help available in game for the new manager, the games advisor feature offers helpful advice on how to play the game as you're going and is of course very easy to turn off once you are comfortable and can even be disabled one topic at a time as you play.

There's also plenty of help and advice available from your coaching staff, in particular your assistant manager who will not only take complete control of several tasks if required, such as player contracts and friendly games, he can also provide valuable advice on how best to combat opposition players or which players you should be chasing. I find being able to send him to press conferences in my stead a godsend, that doesn't go down to well after a while though.

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I've also learnt to pay close attention to my assistant's feedback during games and change tactics accordingly. Of course your backroom staff don't always agree and you will have to make the judgement call on who if anyone to trust, you might want to consider replacing certain coaches whose advice you never take and of course, you can. You can do just about anything you'd think a football manager might do in fm2010. Including being poached by other clubs, getting sacked or even getting the job as you national manager.

Whilst your assistant manager will do your team talks for you too if you're that lazy; I prefer to do them myself and for good reason. Players can be a right bunch of temperamental arseholes, some players need their ego's massaging and some need a kick up the butt. Some even react badly to getting too much praise, sometimes you honestly can't win and simply have to try and keep the majority happy. An occasional bad egg might even need dropping into the reserves or selling before they disrupt the squad's harmony too much, morale seems to be quite important.

When it comes down to picking your team and formation you will be present with literally thousands of options but there's little need to worry about things being too complex, it's essentially a task of choosing formation from a drop down, I almost always use 4-4-2 but doesn't everyone? Of course you'll then need to pick the players to play in your chosen formation; you can easily drag and drop them on the pitch where a traffic light system will let you know whether that player can operate in that position effectively, very user friendly. Clicking the pitch will then allow you to further refine your tactics by selecting from a pre-defined style of play; this can be completely bypassed if you want complete control, options such as the height of your defensive line and where to focus your passing have numerous settings.

Individual players can then also receive further instructions, such as making sure your wingers hug the touchline, get to the by-line or cross from deep, whether to shoot form distance or play through-balls and on and on and on. It's almost infinitely tweak-able. You'll need to get to know your squad really well before playing with these options too much though or you could well make your team much easier to beat.

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The match engine itself is also easy to use, good looking and very customisable. Sound is ok too but more or less nonexistent, it's not needed anyway really. While some people might like to watch the full game, I have to admit to only watching the highlights at pretty much full speed and then relying on the score, stats and assistant advice at several intervals to make tactical changes if things aren't going well. I like to get several games played in an hour, and watching too much of the matches will make that impossible, I'm definitely not hardcore. However I can't resist an emotive response when my team scores; a little "get in!" that's sometimes even accompanied by an expletive almost always pops out, it's very hard to keep quiet as your charges stick another one in the old onion bag or concede another soft goal in the last minute.

One comment I would make is that there does seem to be a statistically large number of long shots in games; way more than you'd see in any normal match anyway. Though it doesn't really affect my enjoyment in all honesty.

Pre and post match press conferences I do find somewhat tedious though, you can't carry on sending your assistant forever really and the questions do become somewhat repetitive. One or two answers you might provide don't have the intended effect on your players either, I've selected a couple of answers meaning my words to encourage a player only to see in the press that the player may well be unhappy at my 'negative words', it's a bit confusing at times and not my favourite feature of the game by a long way.

Buying, selling and loaning players is if of course also included hunting around for the best deals with your scouts can take quite some time and sometimes the hardest part of it is to know what you're looking for in the first place, still all the tools required to find the players you need are not particularly difficult to use, just make sure you have enough scouts of the right calibre and give them achievable goals; there obviously not going to be able to find the next Lionel Messi on a free transfer, but they might find you some gems that will grow into decent players in the future. Don't neglect your own younger players though, with the right coaching some of them might develop nicely.

Of course, football management has always been constrained by budgets and you'll need to keep an eye on both your transfer kitty and wages budget, over spend on wages early in the season and you might end up in a very dark place after a few injuries with very little prospect of being able to even bring anyone in on loan. Not without begging to the chairmen for more money anyway.

Now it would be remiss of me not to mention that the game does have a data editor that allows you to do all sorts of meddling or indeed cheating if you so wish, as well as do some legitimate things like create new competitions. It's not something I'd personally use but it is there if this sort of thing is up your street.

Summary

Football Manager 2010 is without doubt a very, very good game indeed. It's accessible enough that an almost complete newcomer like me can pick up most of the required knowledge inside one season of play but deep almost beyond comprehension, you really could sit and tweak options to try and get the best out of your team for days on end, and there lies the games' biggest issue for me personally. I just don't have the time to play as much as I would like.

If you do have the time then there aren't really any flaws or that many weaknesses, boring press conferences aside it's actually extremely absorbing.

The bottom line
9.0 / 10

Good stuff

  • Very deep and engrossing
  • User friendly
  • More options and tweaks available than you'll ever need
  • Cool 3D match engine

Not so good stuff

  • Press conferences are repetitive
  • Odd player reponses to comments a times


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