FIFA Manager 08
On paper, some football matches’ outcomes are easy to predict. Take for instance the flashy Brazilian superstars against our hard working Belgian Red Devils. The last few years, the same thing could’ve been said about the battle between Football Manager and this FIFA Manager. Did the people of EA manage to take it to the next level or will Football Manager prevail once again? Read on.
The first thing that stands out when you fire the game up is that the whole interface looks pretty flashy. Many gamers will welcome this change with open arms after years of boring menus and textboxes. But as a wise footballprophet once said: “Every advantage has it’s disadvantage”. The interface can display a lot of information, maybe even too much to keep everything under control. More on that later. One more thing that stands out is that the matches are now shown in 3D, a big improvement over the dancing circles used before. It might not quite be looking like FIFA08, but it’s an improvement none the less.
Once you’re in the game, you’ll probably just right into the career mode and try to become the most successful manager ever. While making your avatar you will see something special. Besides the usual choices like your name, age and favorite club, you’ll also be able to choose your personal life. This might look nice at the beginning but after a while you’ll notice it hasn’t got much effect on the game itself, apart from sending your wife a present or two just to keep her happy. You can also learn how to play golf or sail to improve your social skills or you could learn a foreign language to have more chances at job in another country.
As I kind of mentionned before, you can also choose how much control you want to have over your club. If you’re new to the game, you might want to start off by arranging the line-ups, tranfers and training sessions of the team. If however you think that that’s not enough, you can control allmost every detail of the club as well. The hazard with the full control-mode is that you get an avalanche of data to wrestle through. You get your first team, your reserves and quite a lot of youth teams to manage, sponsorship deals that have to be made, keeping all budgets in line and so on. As you can see, a lot of info. Allthough this game goes pretty deep into the life and tasks of a real manager, it doesn’t offer you much help. Apart from your random hint every now and then on the loading screen, you’ll have to find it all out on yourself, giving this game a steep learning curve.
All these extra features are of course very nice and flashy, but main question here is if the core engine of the game can perform on the same level and unfortunately we must conclude that it’s just this part that feels a bit sloppy. The matches, the transfers, they’re all fine yet not fine enough to truly convince us. The number of teams available in this game, allthough most are licenced, is no match for the other management games as well. Other aspects of the game, like training, are well thought out but lack coherence to make everything feel like a whole. This is the main reason why you’ll need some time to learn navigating through the game, something that has to be done a lot in these games. A few extra shortcuts and links, like clicking on player names to go to their details, might solve this problem for new versions in the series.
FIFA Manager 08 has already done some serious cathing up but if I had to choose, I’d still prefer Sports Interactive’s Football Manager over this one. Better luck next year?