Football Manager 2011 Review (PC/Mac)

football-manager-2011-coverYes, readers, it is indeed that time of year again! Football Manager 2011 was recently released, and after becoming completely addicted for what will probably be the better part of the next few months, I’ve decided it’s about time I just got the Football Manager 2011 review written up and get on with my game as soon as I can. So here goes…

The transition to Football Manager 2010 from 2009 took quite a bit of getting used to. We saw an overhauled user interface which was received with mixed reception, although after over 200 hours of gameplay, I got used to it in the end.

We were promised a number of improvements for FM 2011, but not much mention was given of the interface this time around. This is because the user interface remains mainly the same, with not many changes on that front. There is, however, a slightly revamped theme as default which I really dislike. There is a dark skin on its way though, so no need for panic there.

When you’re preparing your team for a match, you will be able to take advantage of the new training system that has been put in place for the new version. The core training feature remains familiar, but you have additional options when heading in to the next game. You can now set a focus area for your players heading in to a fixture, so they can concentrate on what you feel needs more work before the big game.

There is always a risk when playing games such as Football Manager that they can go too far, too in depth, too complicated. It goes without saying that you want to effectively manage your team, but you don’t want to get to the point where you need to spend an hour before every match on preparing tactics to prevent a heavy defeat.

The way the additions to the training system in FM 2011 are implemented strikes a great balance, and gets it just right so that both casual gamers and committed managers can enjoy the experience.

Of course, you can’t prepare your team for a game without a team, and one major aspect of Football Manager is contract negotiations. Very often an incredibly frustrating aspect of the game, waiting a few hours (game time, not real time) between negotiations becomes taxing, and so Sports Interactive have developed a new, more realistic, less taxing system.

You can now negotiate with potential players in real time, although you will have to get past another, new obstacle in the form of agents (and we all know what they can get up to).

Contract negotiations by nature are meant to be frustrating, and with the new system in FM 2011, Sports Interactive has managed to remove some frustrations with the game’s system, and add frustrations from real life. As far as I’m concerned, it makes the whole experience a lot more realistic, and that’s never a bad thing when you’re dealing with a simulation game.

Finally, an upgrade to FM wouldn’t be complete without some changes to the match environment, although this year is more focused on refinements as opposed to an overhaul. Although the 3D match system has steadily become better since it was first implemented, it can still be a little rough around the edges.

To improve this aspect of the game, Sports Interactive has included over 100 new animations, as well as more player emotions, pitch textures, improved lighting, floodlit night matches and more goal celebrations. Win win situation, don’t you think?

Overall, Football Mananger 2011 is a steady upgrade from FM 2010, with lots of refinements making for a really pleasant experience – unless you find yourself at the bottom of the league fighting for survival. If you want to check it out for yourself, you can grab it for just under £25 from Amazon, or £29.99 from Steam.