A phone company once said that it is good to talk, Sports Interactive have heard this message and turned Football Manager 2011 into a game all about conversations. It is no longer about football; it is all about sitting down with your players, with their agents, with the board to talk about things. I never knew talking could be so fun.
Ok you got me, the football is still there, but one of the features that has stuck with me from my hands on with the latest yearly iteration of the series is the ability to strike up a conversation with people. In the old days you would click on a button in the player interaction screen saying you want them to change their style of play and the next day you would get an email back saying whether they were happy to do it or not. It never felt that realistic; can you really imagine a player emailing their manager when they have been asked to do something? Of course not.
The ability to have conversations with people is one of the best additions to the series for a long time, better even than the 3D match engine. You can impose your personality on a player, if they say they don’t think learning how to shoot from distance is beneficial then you can lay down the law telling him that you are the manager and you know best. It is a much more fluid and dynamic way to dealing with things and it is something that has extended to contract negotiations.
For the first time in the series player agents take an active role, and never more clearly than when thrashing out a new contract for your player.
Everything happens in real time now, at the start the agent may set out the demands or they may ask you to make a suitable offer. From here you negotiate in the same screen until you reach an agreement, talks break down, or the agent promises to come back to you at a later date with the decision of their player. As with player interactions it is a much more fluid and realistic approach to what has oft been a rigid and limited system.
Along with the inclusion of conversations there are many more clauses that can be inserted into contract offers and transfer negotiations, there has been a shake-up to training and there promises to be Twitter and Facebook integration.
I got a good feeling from my hands on with the game, it feels a lot more realistic with the addition of conversations and there seems to be greater incentive to go on long-term games with more tweaks to the regen system promised and the ability to change the reputation of your club and league over several seasons.
As ever though, I am always left feeling that maybe not enough has been changed year on year to make it worthwhile buying the new version, that is a problem that all yearly franchises face. However I think the Football Manager games have always tackled this problem well and 2011 edition doesn’t seem to be any exception.