I am sure this post could have been posted as a response to any of the soon hundreds of shot/goal-ratio articles, but I decided to post it here. If you tired of this topic, just don't read this post...
I've read most threads on the shot/goal-ratio in these forums, and although it's the bug (and yes, it is a bug no matter how tactic-fanatics want to look at it) that has made me stop playing the game, I was planning to not get involved in this discussion. However, enough is enough, and the responses from some of the players in here are just so provocative that I can't shut up anymore.
Let's start with the beginning.. FM2008 comes out, a game which in previous versions has made millions of "managers" scream in agony or beeing over the moon after Heskey finally has scored a goal (Either it was his first goal of the season against their team of for it). One of the main sales points of this game has been "Match Engine Improvements" and "Easier To Use". Let's look at those two headliners for a while.
For us who has played this game since the first version, we have always been overwhelmed by the realism in the game. It has always been far better than its competitors, but was it maybe better before it became the money-machine it is right now? Before they're pushed to make a new version with plenty of new features every year? There is no doubt that it is still the best manager game out there, but the increasing amount of bugs, flaws and inconsistency for every version is worrying. In this version we are expecting the final(?) patch in February, aproxomately 8 months before we will see FM 2009. How will this affect the work on FM 2009 and is this fair on the customers that bought the game 4 months ago? I will just let this question hanging, as it will only start a playable/unplayable discussion which is totally useless. The game is technically playable, but that doesn't mean that it holds what it promises...
The main reason for writing this post was the shot/goals ratio, and the discussions that has followed afte this issue first was presented. Befor the patch, the main issues for me related to the match engine, was the missed penalties and the closing down bug. After the patch, shots/goals is by far the worst. What makes it even more annoying is that SI denies to acknowledge it as a bug (which I guess, means that it will not be fixed in the patch), and the a-typic answer for all the tactic-fanatics, saying "It's you tactics".
Well.. Let's try to look at real life football. I know that there was a post where some guy compared the shot/goals ratio in his game with real stats from the same league, however this comparison har many possible foults. First of all, I don't see the s/g-ratio as a problem in games not played by human managers. Comparing a whole season in FM using all teams, will therefore not give any good answers. The other answers which all players bringing this issue up is getting from other forum users is the "it's your tactics-response". Again, let's go back to reality.. Is there anyone here who actually think that if Manchester United in a regular 4-4-2 formation, fireing 40 shots a game will not score a goal with world class players? First of all, could anyone please present me with match stats from a regular game where it says 30-40 chances? And second, if it should happend in one game (sometimes it seems like the ball nevner will go in), it won't repeat itself week in and week out. Third, If I can trust the match commentary (which I hope I can), it is not like the shots are beeing fired from 50 yards, meaning that this is not either the "solution". Yeah, maybe som of the shots are of crappy quality, but not all of them. Most likely not even 50% if your team is packed with world class players.
Well maybe the player has a low morale you say. Yes, maybe he has. But even if Berbatov wants to leave Tottenham, Drogba is missing Mourinho and Anelka always is on the move, you don't see them suddenly turn in to ****** players, firing every ball towards the corner flag..
"AI has "cracked" your tactic" many is saying.. Well it's not like a teams tactic is as secret as the Coca Cola recipe. A opposition club which uses all of the analyzing tools, 100 hours of video footage and whos attending your games, has no more problem of cracking your tactic than it has to crack open its eggs in the morning. As I am from Norway I painfully had to watch Rosenborg winning over 10 years in a row. It was not because none of the other teams (who played almost the same team every year) did not know how Rosenborg played, it was because Rosenborg plainly was better than it's opposition. They rarely even changed their tactics playing away, but still one most of their matches. Never did suddenly all teams start to win against them with only creating 3 chances, while Rosenborg started to loose all their matches still creating 30. When it first happened it was of course because the other teams got smarter, but mostly because the strenght of the clubs became more equal. Therefore it is not realistic that a team should suddenly start loosing towards almost any opponent, just because they have "cracked" the tactic. And what are the odds that evry AI-manager cracks it at the same time? Also, why should it have any effect on the efficiency of Fernando Torres og Cristiano Ronaldo's shots? I see in FM's advertising that Ray Houghton is one of the mater minds behind the match engine.. I can not remember that Liverpool in their glory days changed tactics every other week, just because the opponent knew how they played.
The "easier to play" was also mentioned it the ad of this game. I know that it's more about the interface than the difficulty, but it is no doubt that SI hopes to attract many of the potential customers that up to now has looked at FM as an impossible and advanced spreadsheet. The advisor is therefore a nice addition for those players, and although I ofcourse turned it of after cheking what it was, I never once saw it tutoring me on how an extreme difference there is in having match tempo set at 5 instead of 6. Or short passes 3 insted of 4. Could somebody please tell them that it is the difference between victory and failure? And that they need to use about 20-30 minutes in front of every game to change their tactics to get a decent result? If they don't, just forget about 4-4-2, 4-5-1 or any of the other "old fashioned" tactics. Go to the tactics section of the forum and download a tactic that has "craked" the Match Engine for you. It doesn't matter if you have slow or fast players. If you're in Premier League or in Serie C. The dowloaded tactic will make you successful. All honors to those who has implemented thos tactics, but excuse me when I say that I have yet to se a team playing 2-2-3-2-1 in the Champions League...
Where are the players in all this? When did a world class striker become more useless than a third division player, just because another manager know how the team plays. In this game Peter Shilton could do a comeback, beeing much better than Peter Cech, just because the tactics are cracked (of course Cech would get a 6 or 7 no matter if he did not make a single save throughout the whole game while Shilton got a 6 making 7 impossible saves, but that is another story).
So what are we left with? There is still no doubt that this is the greatest manager game. For those of you who now are preparing to cut my head of because this is just whining, lets me just say a few things. I've been both successful and been not given a new contract in the game, but that does not change any aspects of the game. I too agree that it should not be as easy as just making sure that you have 11 eligable players for your team and press "Play Match". I also hope that stats, attributes and different mentalities will play a great role in the game. I don't want it to be a game where you win as long as you buy the best players, but still it must have some kind of realism. Today it is the opposite. Tactics counts for a lot more than your players, and that is not realistic. It's almost as Mourinho said it about his pies and eggs. You need good eggs to make a decent pie
I've written this more in frustration than anything else, so I am not really trying to start a new discussion. I feel that my point here should be quite obvious, and if neither the forum members or SI agrees with me, than I might just have to realize that the FM series is not what it was, and that its might not be a game for me anymore. As many of you most likely have understood, this post is more than just about the s/g-problem. There are plenty of other issues, bugs and problems that annoys me and that I could have brought up, but the s/g-thing only shows how divied it is possible to be about the same game. I still want to see that person who actually feels that the game would be more unrealistic if the s/g-ratio was tweaked a bit. That person should maybe start developing handball-manager 2009