So the annual new installments of Sega’s groundbreaking Football Manager Series has hit the shelves, and with expectations higher than ever before, Sega have their work cut out to try and please their loyal and new fans.
So what’s new then? Well according to Sega there are around 80 new features including: an entirely new transfer system, Press conferences as well as assistant manager feedback, so you can find out what the computer thinks of your own brand of managing. But what really steals the show is the brand new match engine, which allows you to watch your creation playing football in 3 dimensions for the first time in the Football Manager series.
The main aim of Football Manager is hinted at in the name; you control and mold a football team of your choice into anything you see fit. Whether you like to play as a league winning super-team, such as Chelsea or Barcelona, or a club struggling to maintain its status in professional football, it’s got something for everyone, with 5000 clubs in over 200 different leagues, so you will be coming back for more and different experiences every time. The leagues range from the UEFA Champions League to the North American CONCACAF Champions Cup, so no matter where you are from there will be at least one league which will interest you.
Now, onto the meat on the brand new bone of Football Manager, the new graphics system, the most hyped thing about this game, and to be honest, the probably the best feature Sega could have added. The whole point of a manager game is immersion, to make you feel like you have created something brilliant, and there is nothing more satisfying than watching your creation playing a superb game of football in front of your very eyes, and I guarantee you will be celebrating as if it were your favourite club, if you score the winner in the 89th minute against your arch rival football team.
When any game tries to bring in such a large and new feature such as a new 3D engine when the past instalments have been based around 2D engines is bugs &/or is it polished enough. And unfortunately the game’s latest engine is fairly buggy and doesn’t seem to be that well polished. The majority of the ‘new’ 3D animations are at least tolerable but seeing the goalie just isn’t. When he occasionally does like to dive for the ball, it pretty much does look like a sack of spuds being hurdled around. Although I did have a bit of a rant there, it is definitely safe to say that if SEGA are to release a Football Manager 2010 (Which for some reason I think they will) the 3D engine has a quite a lot of potential for future games, it may not ever be on the levels of FIFA graphically, but you’re able to let it off because of the insane amount of content within the game.
As anyone who has ever played the Football Manager games before, you do spend a fair amount of time shifting through a fairly substantial number of menus and lists, and surprisingly this one isn’t really much different. But thankfully there is always a nice soundtrack to back it and the menu’s are looking as crisp and sleek as ever. Also if you are a veteran of the FM series, you also have the choice during matches to listen to your team’s performance through a commentary option, which is hardly anything to complain about (there is also a 2D view if you are that retro.)
A nice new feature in Football Manager 2009 is the press conferences, before and after each match you’ll be spoken to by the press and depending on what you say can (surprisingly) make quite the difference to how your players perform in that match. Although this feature could be considered ‘marmite’ because they can become annoying due to how often they occur, but hey, I liked them. Another nice little (and useful) feature is the football manager assistant which is one of the first ‘helpers’ in a game which is well… actually helpful and in case you are wondering, it is optional.
The major selling point behind any simulation game (Football Manager especially) is just how long you could continue to be playing the game. And thankfully, SEGA hasn’t touched the formula which will made the Football Manager in the first place, packing the game with hundreds of hours worth of content which I extremely doubt you’ll get bored off until the next Football Manager game. One thing which is extremely appealing about this game (which I didn’t realize) is just how accessible the game is to well, anyone who can read. The name ‘Football Manager’ kinda makes it seem that the game is aimed to the more ‘hardcore’ crowd, but because of the manager assistant, it makes the game so much friendlier to everyone.
Rightio, verdict time! Football Manager 2009 sticks to the winning formula which has made it one of the best simulation games ever made, it may not be every ones cup of tea but no matter who you are you’re able to appreciate it. The 3D match engine is one of the best features that SEGA could have brought into the series although unfortunately it doesn’t seem like it went exactly to plan because of the bugs/glitches which get extremely annoying, also the fact your team players get injured every 10 minutes in a match can really get on your nerves. I know football players can be drama queens a lot of the time, but this just takes the piss. It’s safe to say that Football Manger 2010 has some major potential, but whether or not they actually take advantage of it is a completely different matter.