With another football season underway, a new version of Football Manager is the highlight of the month for me – I racked up a lot of game time with FM 2009, and grabbed a copy of Football Manager 2010 on release day to start all over again with a new club and a very different user interface that took a while to get used to…
The first thing that I noticed immediately was the time it takes to create a new game, or the lack of… Being a long time Football Manager player, I’m quite accustomed to waiting a long time for a new game to setup, so I was very impressed when my game was set up and ready to go in less than 60 seconds after selecting my team (Gateshead if you’re interested; I like a challenge).
As soon as you’re in the game, it’s apparent that quite a few changes have been made since Football Manager 2009. Aside from the usual welcome message from the chairman of your club, you can ‘Meet your staff’ who will each give you their opinion on the current status of the club and areas which may need improving. This is a nice feature I found helpful, as I have no idea how good or bad the Gateshead squad is, but if you’re managing a well known club you may not need to pay so much attention to this – you’re the Gaffer after all!
You’ll find that the ‘Home’ section is your main hub for most of the in game information you need to know about, with a very easy to navigate and intuitive interface that utilises 7 tabs that allow you to flick between your overview; profile; news and messages; jobs; search; history and notebook. You’ll also find a mini calendar with a 5 day preview located at the top of your screen with the continue button also relocated to the top. The main menu is accessible through the “FM” button located between the search bar and continue button.
Tabs are also used when viewing the squad. You have a choice of 7 tabs showing each of your squads (main, reserves and u19‘s) as well as club information, the board room and transfer history. On the “Board Room” tab, a slider makes it very easy to adjust your budget between transfer and wage budget which is a nice and welcome addition.
When dealing with transfers, everything is done through the transfer centre which is accessible through the squad tabs or the club drop down menu. It’s nice to have everything available without a host of sub-menus as was often the case with previous versions of Football Manager. When in the transfer centre, you can access player search, staff search and scouting amongst other things from easily visible buttons below the tabbed options. Switching from one to another couldn’t be easier, and Sports Interactive have definitely done a great job cleaning up the interface to increase productivity not only in the transfer market, but when altering your squad and quickly being able to go to tactics when something needs to be changed!
When altering the tactics for your next big game, you’ll be presented with a slightly different tactics screen than you’re used to. On the surface, everything looks very similar to previous renditions, but you’ll notice some changes that make it easy for you to concoct a winning formula. The best thing about the new tactics options is you don’t have to be a mastermind when working with a host of sliders anymore! Replacing all those sliders you’ve become oh so accustomed to are easy to understand options that make it easier to envisage how your team will perform on the pitch, split into ‘General Strategies’ and ‘Playing Style’.
It’s a feature I’ve been begging for since the sliders came about and I’m very glad to see my prayer’s answered in Football Manager 2010. When you’re viewing individual players, the layout is mostly the same as you’re used to from previous versions of Football Manager with the exception of tabs being ever present in the new version.
Ok, your squad is sorted and tactics perfectly planned out, but how’s the actual gameplay? One thing that I was disappointed to see was the lack of change in press conferences, which still ask the same questions over and over in the same monotonous manner as always with limited responses. When this feature first appeared in FM 2009 I thought that it was a good first attempt at integrating the press into the game, giving them a more active role, but it soon started to annoy me and it doesn’t seem like much has changed in the new FM 2010 unfortunately.
When you proceed to your next match, everything is mostly familiar if you’ve played previous versions of Football Manager, although tabs are again used to navigate through this area. Firstly, you’re given an overview of the two teams’ line-ups and formations, before progressing to the opposition instructions screen before your pre-match team talk. Again, the options given to you in the team talk are mostly unchanged from previous versions although you may find a few new instructions floating around.
When you’re viewing the match, you’ll notice a few changes when watching in 3D mode. I preferred the 3D mode in FM 2009 to the standard 2D top-down view despite its limitations and flaws, so I was happy to see some improvements in the match engine of FM 2010.
You’ll probably notice that you can see people in the crowd and actual stands rather than grey walls of nothingness beside the pitch which is a nice visual improvement. A new feature which I love is the ability to issue commands from the touchline so you don’t have to enter the tactics screen every time you want to change something around! You can change the current strategy and issue specific instructions as well, such as ‘Pump Ball Into Box’ or ‘Get Stuck In’.
This is a great addition when compared to the sliders of old (which are still available if you prefer to control your team that way) and help manage the game much more effectively. Oh, and the ball actually bounces off the billboards on the side of the pitch now, it doesn’t just run through them like they aren’t even there like it did in FM 2009!
The game itself ran extremely smoothly in 3D mode, although it’s something I’ve come to expect of Football Manager – you know it’s time to upgrade when your PC can’t run Football Manager! Overall, I think the new interface makes it considerably easier to move around the game when you get used to it, and FM 2010 is a great addition to the already incredible series despite the fact that the 3D match engine which isn’t quite in the 21st century just yet… So what are you still reading this article for? Go and manage your team!
Football Manager 2010 is available for both Windows and Mac OS X, and is available from around £20.