Football Manager 2008
Football Manager is a game which manages to amuse me year after year. Especially last year, FM 2007, was one of the best throughout the entire legacy that is Football Manager. Although some people seem to be happy with the coming of the annual release, others can’t understand what’s so interesting about this virtual management game. Saying so, I’ll try yet again to convert these heathens to the religion of Football Manager!
With every new release the developers, Sports Interactive, attempt to bring something new to their most recent version to make it as just as (if not more) interesting as the previous. Last year we saw the coming of the possibility to create satellite clubs through contracts with other teams, something which made it a lot easier to rent players or find new, young talent to add to your dream team. FM 2008 is no different, it has also been through some major changes which are supposed to make the game more accessible to the older fans or fresh Football Manager virgins.
The first and perhaps most noticeable improvement is the possibility to adjust your tactics real-time during a game. You’ll no long have to pause the match in order to be able to do substitutions or make your team fall back into some sort of catenaccio. Now you can do this while your players are going on with the game, but you won’t lose track of them since there’s a little radar-like screen visible in the tactics menu. This also adds some extra depth to the game since you have the feeling you’re really shouting your instructions to your players while they’re at it.
Apart from that the preparation for the match was slightly altered. Where you had nothing more to do than point out the tactics along with a bunch of players you wanted to play, you now have an entire preview of the upcoming game along with some strategic hints provided by your assistant manager and articles ripped out of the local newspaper. Another little detail you’ll find out about, are your chances of winning according to some betting offices. Thanks to these improvements it has become much easier to prepare your team for their game (going from the strategic choices to the selection of players). The flow of the match has remained practically the same (not considering the real-time tools that is): a bunch of little circles sliding behind a ball. Once the 90 minutes have passed you’ll get a short review of the match which offers a clear analysis of your players and their performances. Another good tool which lets you run your team with even more ease. You never received the amount of detailed information on a football game.
The thing which makes the 2008-version as accessible to new players as it is, is the new and improved help-function together with a fresh interface which practically tells you where to go. About the help: let’s say you end up on the transfer-page. If and when your help is turned on, you’ll instantly get a short description of every possible step you have to go through to search for, negotiate with and eventually by a player. It’s all clearly pointed out by using highlighted buttons needed in every step of the process. This tutorial-like aid was already present in FM07, but you had to guess which button to use most of the time. Forget the manual, learn this game by using the tools at hand!
Something which manages to bother me every year is the weak graphical presentation of matches. When are those bloody 3D players coming? Everything is still shown with the old 2D-engine (some text and 22 blips cruising behind a ball). In my opinion, this takes away the possibility to be taken in by the games atmosphere. No wonder everything still fits onto an ordinary CD! On the other hand the 2D graphics do offer an enormous advantage of being able to show a tactically clear image, something which might be a lot harder to do when using 3D-images.
Although not much, the audio did make some progression. The quality of stadium- and atmosphere sounds has been improved and you notice this the most when you play 08 directly after playing 07. There’s little distortion to find in sounds pumped out your spearkers. The “I’m really watching this game in the dome” may still be suffering because of the graphics, the audio does make up for this a bit.
According to me, Football Manager is a great example of improvement by the years. FM 2007 was good, but 08 is better! This newer version is definitely worth buying, even for owners of Football Manager 2007 (even if it only was to update your rosters). The real-time tactics are a great extra and form a great addition to the possibility of “becoming the manager”, plus it offers a direct visualization of your tactical adjustments. My advice: if you’re interested in soccer, buy Football Manager 2008! You won’t regret it!