Some might say that Football Manager is just a series of spreadsheets with the odd simulated match thrown in for good measure. I say that Football Manager is one of the best games on the PC. This latest edition of the game is perhaps the best for quite a few years.
It is a game which you have to invest time in, you can’t expect to play for six hours and get everything you are going to get from it. This is a game for long-term play, after 19 hours of play I am just at the start of my second season, it is this need to devote so much time to the game which can turn people away from it, but it is also part of what makes the game so good.
If you want you can spend hours upon hours tweaking your tactics to suit your players and ensure your team is fully prepared for the forthcoming match. With the tactics creator you can set the formation and tell your boys how you want them to play, you can even go as far as to create plans for specific set pieces. It is an amazing system, yet if you yearn for the simple life you can just select a default system and leave team selection to your coaches.
Not many moments in gaming can beat the perfect signing. You may be trawling the transfer market for the entire transfer window trying to find that striker to turn you from a middle of the table club to a championship winning team. You get scout reports on players left right and centre then you make your bid. You add sell-on fees and offer a player in exchange to get your bid accepted, then comes the best big, the contract.
Contract offers have received a big overhaul in FM2011, rather than sending your offer to the player and waiting a few days for their response it all happens in real-time. This goes for player and staff negotiations. A player may walk in and demand certain terms with no lee-way, others may know that they are in-demand and let you suggest all the different terms and conditions. It adds a much more realistic twist to what was a drawn out process, the inclusion of agents also makes things feel more real. You may be a tough manager who tries to cut out all agent fees, or you may pay the agent off in the hope he will persuade the player to sign.
You can also talk to your player and board in real time having conversations with them, it is still early days for this part of the game and at times the conversation options feel quite limited, but they are a great improvement over the static player interaction system we saw before.
Long-term games with teams in obscure leagues are now much more attractive thanks to the new Dynamic League Reputation, in my game I am playing as TNS in the Welsh Premier League and my goal is to one day get the Welsh Premier up to the same standard as the Championship and maybe even the Premiership. If you can lead your team to consistent success in continental competitions over a span of years the reputation of your club and your league will gradually increase. It provides greater motivation for playing with smaller leagues rather than the classic Big Four of the English, Italian, Spanish and German leagues.
It may not be a massive revolution in management games, but the changes and additions made in FM2011 are impressive in their own right and add a great deal to the series. It is a great game, and a great example of what makes PC gaming so good.