A few weeks ago, I posted the trailer for Football Manager 2008. Sega sent me a copy of the game for me to review, so I feel I’ve have played it enough to give my thoughts on the game.
The Football Manager Series (formally Championship Manager) are the most successful Football Management games ever produced. It achieved it success in two ways: first was to remove everything not relating to football – you don’t manage the stadium, or attract sponsorship, or anything like that. The second is forsaking graphics instead using a text based engine. For non fans, it’s nothing more than a glorified spreadsheet. For fans of the game it’s more addictive than nicotene.
So, how does the new game shape up? Well, it promises the same as other games – more leagues and upto date players. It’s pretty much up to date in that respect, the start of the season. It also promises more comprehensive transfer management, media management and fan and board interaction. More on that later.
More about the data, and the question that is on everybody’s lips. Can you play as Colwyn Bay? Well, the answer is no. However, pretty much all the players (with a couple of exceptions) are there, and by using the Data Editor you can easily put any non league side into the game. I just wish they would drop it down two more English leagues so I wouldn’t have to do it.
There is more to do, and it’s fantastically detailed. The first new feature happens shortly before the start of the season, where the groundsman asks you if you wish to change the pitch dimensions depending on your style of play. However, in previous interactions of the game, if they had implemented this feature, you could be sure it’s done to the centimetre. Now, it’s simply “maximum”, “normal” or “minimum”. This is why this game beings to shine, it’s giving you features, but you don’t spend hours tinkering each little thing.
The other thing that struck me was the interface, it has been overhauled, and it did take me a few minutes to find certain things (I still can’t find a list of all the teams in the game, for example), however certain new interface tweaks really are a blessing – the fact you can quite simply press “Reject” for a transfer, rather than click “Negotiate” “Reject Proposal” and “Giving a Reason”. It just makes the game a little bit quicker.
So, what of the game itself? Well, I’ve hit Christmas with Liverpool (yes, I know) and I’m 5th in the Premiership topped by Newcastle, I’m still in the Champions League and League Cup, and I face Leeds United in the FA Cup. I like it, but I always known I will. This game has also taken a bit of a step forward by having “assistants”, who will give their view on players – which is more visual than a set of numbers and bars, tactics to play against certain teams, and will even handle team talks and training (two things I’m not hugely big on concentrating on). A few years ago you were kind of thrown to the wolves with the game, and left to struggle with the sheer amount of information at your fingertips. Of course, the downside to it is that your team will only be as good as your assistant if you rely on them too much, but if you want to pass off a few duties to them, then you’re quite within your right to, and it won’t impact your total game.
A few things I’d like to see after speaking to a friend of mine at the Bay though. The first is what we call “The Ugly Side to the Beautiful Game”. I’d love to see players running off and doing shameful unheroic things, but I suppose for legal reasons you probably couldn’t, but the fact is there is little interaction with Agents and the wonders of “Tapping Up” players are not within the game. I am unsure to see how it’s done, but still, painting the wonderful world of football in a not so wonderful light could be interesting. There are signs of it happening (I’ve just served a touchline ban for bitching about an official too much), but I’d like to see it done more.
So, should you buy it? Well, it’s not up to me to say. If you are not a football fan, you won’t, but if you are, then it varies from desirable to essential. I’d certainly reccommend it, it’s eaten up the past few days of my life, and will probably do to.
You can buy Football Manager 2008 from places such as Amazon, or other places where I don’t get money when you buy from them, and is out now.