As an avid fan of Sports Interactive and Football Manager Handheld I was eagerly awaiting the chance to play the latest Football Manager on PC as well, from past experiences I have found the game too in depth for a player like me due to the slow loading speeds it produces (you can go hours in between games). This year though SI are saying they have made their best game ever and some of the features intrigue me and make me wonder about the future of FMH with excitement.
Thankfully though as I am writing this I got the preview code from Sports Interactive themselves (thanks guys) meaning I can play the game early. In this article though I am going to both consider points as a normal gamer and FMH gamer, but not someone who has ever played FM PC.
When first looking at the design obviously you will find it is more crowded than FMH but it is a beautiful design and layout with all the information sorted so you can get everything you need in an easy to navigate way. Compared to FMH the detail is obviously great and gives you a fully immersive view of being a football manager however, it also adds in nice touches such as positions of the club over the last 20 years so unless you are a Leeds’ fan then it will be nice to see how your club has progressed or digressed then your progress over the years as you do a lot of seasons. One part of the layout that has caught my eye though is the bar at the top with the next week on, I feel this is a useful tool to see what is happening in the near future and allows you to plan ahead no matter what screen you are on.
Now obviously due to the depth in the game you need to invest a lot of time into the game, sitting at your computer for an hour will not give you the progress the Handheld games would (you would do one or two matches where as FMH may do 6 months). However, you lose track of time and 1 hour becomes 4 so easily. This is mainly thanks to a great 3D pitch in which gives you a realistic and customisable experience of a match day including the ability to change cameras and add statistics to the side of the screen. If a full match in 3D isn’t your cup of tea then similar to FMH you can change to highlights but also have the 2D pitch in full or highlights. For the even more retro and speed-driven game play then just the commentary still gives the great experience you want as a football manager but compacts it in a quicker time frame. One of the things I love the most is the post-match review, it lets you know things quickly with the feel of a proper manager and this sets the tone for the game with its little touches building up to the big ones.
The game has many great features that enhance the experience, many of these would be great in FMH but some just aren’t possible due to game time. One of my favourites however is the team of the week/month, this allows you to see which of your players did well and adds a nice realistic touch into the game despite it being a simple thing. Another thing that gives me a tingly feeling when playing is the interaction with players and agents when dealing with issues such as contracts in a true negotiation fashion or talking about general things such as their current form or asking if they can train a youngster, each part of this feels like a great achievement and makes me have a choice in the type of manager I want to be and this influences the game more than you can think with morale a key part in form.
As a hardcore FMH fan though the most noticeable and excitable thing about the game isn’t so many great features to mention but the fact every league has its rules exactly and there are so many different leagues and nations to never let me get bored. On this topic the new add/remove league feature is something of promise and makes me want to continue my game in other countries even if I never had to load them at the start, this also keeps my processing memory down and allows the game to load faster. This too is like the depth in the club with the reserve teams and under 18s an active part of the game meaning more youngsters and players; for comparison FMH has about 15k players over all, in Russian leagues only medium database there is 13k.
Now the depth isn’t for everyone, sometimes you have to step back and think it isn’t a game as everything from transfer stories to international news including bidding for tournament hosting, scouting to player information is so immersive and realistic it is beyond belief that it is contained in a game. I could go into a lot more detail about the game so it really is a select taste and does limit a player with when they can play due to the amount of details. Luckily main options such as tactics can be as detailed as you like from the “player roles” to a full blow by blow analysis of what they should/shouldn’t do. The only other thing which is my personal dislike is the press conferences become a repetitive feature after 6 months and while you can do your own response they lose their novelty after a while.
My rating: 9.5/10
The game in 3 words:
Addictive, realistic and immersive.