Having been a massive fan of championship manager games for the PC, I was often looking out for a version of the same name on the DS. Sadly that never materialised, but a game of similar ilk was released 'Football Director'!
The game was released in 2008 and has a similar set up to most football simulator game formats; you choose a team and are in control of team selection, tactics, transfers, wages etc. I purchased the game for £10 from play.com knowing that I was going away for a few days and would have plenty of time to play the game. The game has had quite bad press but here is my review: -
The game is really simple, it is very easy to pick up and change every tactic, make every transfer you want, with little difficulties. The game has the usual features that would exist in real life such as wage negotations, other transfers, manager of the month awards etc. You can even control the training schedule to replicate what you would do if you were Alex Ferguson, or whoever you aspire to be.
Another good feature is the fact that you can watch the match text commentary, like the champ man games but if you dont want to sit through this you can just flick to the result. This means that you can play the game whether you have a lot of time on your hands, or very little.
There are also crowd noises and an extensive list of players to choose from on the transfer list. The price, now coming down towards under a tenner is quite good value for money.
Unfortunately, I have to say, overall, I was quite disappointed by the game. The main one being the easiness of the game. I decided for random reasons to be Middlesbrough in the premier league (dont forget, released in 2008) and after an opening day win 1-0 at Old Trafford, I thought it was fluke. Although I maybe should perceive myself a genius for only losing one game throughout the season and clinching their first premier league title, I found it a bit embarassing, especially on my first go.
I think the reason I won the premier league were my signings, again unrealistic. I signed Eduardo and Rosicky with relative ease from Arsenal and made some loan signings of good players. These all signed without any weeks of negotiation, which would happen in real life. The loan players also seem to stay with you for the whole season even if you only signed them for a month. Very odd.
The game advertises that you can sign european players, giving the impression that you could sign the likes of Kaka and Messi but this is false; you can only sign foreign players that are at English clubs. This is disappointing. It also seems throughout that you lose money no matter what you do to players contracts.
The game also takes an absolute age to save. I appreciate it holds a great deal of data but you can easily go and make a cup of tea, come back and its still not saved. It also does not let you have multiple games going - you must have one game at a time. This means that you cant be a league 2 team on one game and a premier league on another.
I should be grateful that a game like this exists on the DS but unfortunately it is just too unrealistic for my liking. There was a massive opportunity to make a really good game that matched the champ man range on the PC but this just hasn't happened. I decided to see if it was just as easy being a lower league club and choose Bradford City. I was promoted at the first attempt and generally by just clicking next on every screen and not making any changes to tactics, substitutions or transfers.
I would recommend if you liek games that are easy to gain success on. If you want something more challenging, I would wait for the DS to produce something a bit more substantial!
This review is for the Nintendo DS game, Football Director, published by Pinnacle. The game is a football management simulator, one of the few available for the DS.
There have been many football management games available, but they usually work best on the PC, and haven't usually translated as well onto other consoles. The formula in this game is the same as with most others, manage your team to victory by buying and selling players, clever use of tactics, choice of backroom staff and by using many other managerial techniques.
You play each game, as you would imagine, by selecting your team and tactics, having trained your players, you then play the match. You can then, once you're happy with your team and confident of victory, go and play the match and will your side on from the touchlines.
You can watch the match, but it's not exactly like watching Sky Sports, and isn't as good as the packaging of the game would suggest. The commentary of the match which is promised isn't a verbal one from some well known football presenter, but is instead just a series of sentences in text format. The sound effects are also not a great selection of football chants and realistic sounds, but rather just some random crowd noise, which is actually quite irritating after a while.
In terms of playing the game, this is quite well done, as it's easy and accessible to find the menus that you want. Sometimes games can get a bit too in-depth and confusing, leaving it difficult to find the options that you want, but this game hasn't got that problem, and you do feel in control of the game and being able to change what you need to change.
With regards to the realism of the game, things just don't seem right at all. Every football fan knows that no game is a guaranteed victory, and anything can happen which leaves a fantastic team beaten by a poor team from a lower division. But in this game, that seems to happen quite a lot, and it rather does give the impression that the results are just a little bit too random. Playing for a few seasons in this game does suggest to me that the whole process just isn't that realistic, and that there are too many results which you feel shouldn't have happened.
There do appear to be quite a few bugs in the game as well, such as you can qualify for a European competition, win all the games, but still be knocked out, and there appear to be problems with the finances, as the sums just don't add up. These errors to tend to give the impression that the whole game has been rather rushed out.
There are also inaccuracies with the information provided on the packaging. The game suggests that you can sign players from all over Europe, so you might hope that you can play in other European leagues as well. Unfortunately you can't do this, and nor can you actually even sign players from all over Europe, unless they happen to be playing in the British leagues. It is frustrating for information to be provided which is wrong, again suggesting that the game was released in quite a hurry.
The disappointment of not being able to play in international or in European leagues aside, some effort has been made to ensure that the players, managers and stadiums that they do have in the game are genuine and properly licensed. However, having said this, and I appreciate that my football knowledge isn't always entirely up to date, but there seem to be a fair few errors in the database of players, in terms of players who have moved or retired some time before. It's not quite clear how these errors have crept in, and although they're not a major block at all to playing the game, it is another problem which probably shouldn't be in the game.
Saving the game for future play does also take some considerable time, and for those players such as myself who regularly save the game, "just in case", this is the longest save game process that I can recall seeing on a Nintendo DS. It's only a minor point, and no doubt a lot of information has to be saved, but it'd be an improvement if this could be fixed.
I remember the first Football Manager game by Kevin Toms, and I remember the excitement of that. I also remember by favourite ever football management game, namely Player Manager, produced by Anco for the Amiga. These were in my eyes great games, but they were products of the times. Football Director is really not that much further forward, and given the length of time that has passed since the first football managements games came out, this is really quite disappointing.
Tactics in the game are very hit and miss, and to be honest, you probably don't need to tinker around with very much. It's one of those games where you can change lots of settings, spend a lot of time fitting a squad together, but then still go out and get the same score line as if you had just shoved any combination of players and tactics together. So if you want any real element of in-depth tactical play, this probably isn't the game.
However, the advantage of this game is that it is playable and portable. If you need to fill a couple of hours, this game does allow you to do that, and has quite an addictive quality about it. Although you may know the game engine isn't working perfectly, you still try and perfect your side to do as well as you can in the league.
Is the game long-lasting? Back in my Football Manager and Player Manager days, I could spend hours playing those games over the course of many months. This isn't really the case with this game, it's fun to pick up for a while or to fill in an otherwise empty couple of hours, but there's not in my view enough substance to the game to keep you very interested after playing the first few seasons in the game.
The format of the game is also a winner in principle, the developers have taken a game rather better suited to the PC and transferred it to the DS in a credible way at least. With a ready audience for games like this, I'd be very surprised if a Football Director II wasn't on the horizons, which would no doubt fix some of the problems and also rather enhance and widen the game play.
The game's retail price is a rather steep 29.99 pounds, although the game is available from Amazon for just 9.99 pounds. At the time of writing, second hand copies are available from sites such as eBay and Amazon for around seven or eight pounds. The game is rated as 3+, so is suitable for children of most ages.
In summary, this isn't too bad a game, but there never feels as though there's much depth to it. Winning seems to be just a bit too easy, and the game doesn't seem to reward strategy, so you could almost just keep playing with the same team and tactics, make a few changes each year, and still do very well. However, it's an absorbing game for a while, but it doesn't have the long-term interest of other management games.
At last! A football management game for the DS! They are available, pretty much, on every games system, and given how basic they are to navigate around, why hasn't one been available for the DS before?
I had been waiting for a football management game for the DS for a long time and, just after Christmas, I saw Football Director on the shelves of HMV for the price of £22 and thought "That's definitely worth it!". Having happily purchased, I had high expectations considering I had been waiting so long for Nintendo to release such a game.
The title of 'Director' was already distinct from the classic 'Manager' designate that you see on 99% of all football management games, which had an instant and positive impact on my decision to purchase. However, was I hustled?
Football Director revolves around the 2008/09 season, so it is totally updated with all the latest teams. When you turn the game on, you start by creating a profile and choosing a team to manage. You are able to select any team from the Premier League, Championship, League One or League Two. The top screen will be exhibit the date, the club's kit and badge, your league place, club balance, fan confidence, board confidence and date of next match. The bottom screen will feature the menu screens / the news page / the written commentary of the game. When you play Football Director for the first time, you will be taken through a very thorough tutorial which shows you how to play and navigate through each screen.
The 'non-match interface' are the series of menu's that you can access prior to each game. It is fairly easy to navigate through, but appear as icons on the left hand side of the page so it will take a little time to remember which ones take you to what you need. They are as follows:
Club menu - this will allow you to view your squad, review your tactics, and control the training regime. You can also look at your fixtures and results list.
Competition menu - here you can view the league fuxtures and tables. You can also look at the leading plater tables and manager of the month awards.
Admin menu - here you search for players to either buy or loan, view records for each club, manage your finances and player contracts, and recruit club employees to manage your youth squad.
Game menu - where you can save your game or exit back to the main menu.
In between games, the bottom screen will display the news page which highlights what is happening in the English football world such as transfers .e.g "8 Jul 2007 - M.Schwarzer has joined Aston Villa for £3,450,000 from Fulham". There are normally 20 items of news each time the page loads up - 95% of the content will normally be about other team's transfers and 70% will revolve around teams outside of your league unless you are in the premiership. This is a feature that has never been so thorough, e.g. in the Championship and Football Manager games, there are normally 5 items of news and it is mostly relevant to the club, but 20 items seems like unnecessary overkill.
On match day, you are taken to the 'Pre-Match screen' where you are able to 'View Match', where the bottom screen will display the written commentary of the match. You can change the speed of the commentary so that you are not spending a long time seeing the drama unfold. Alternatively, you can choose 'Result Only' which will take you straight to final score. Prior to the match, you can view the team line-up and read a scout report done in advance by your scouts.
During the game, monitoring the fitness and performance of players is non-existant, so you do not know who is pertinent to substitute, which is a fundamental flaw in the game. However, you can see vital statistics such as possession, shots of target, yellow/red cards etc, so you can see who is the more dominant side.
Graphics and Sound
This outlay of the game is very basic - you will not see any figures, characters or pictures as you are mainly navigating through menu screens and seeing written information. However, the presentation of the game is very neat and tidy, illustrated with subtle but attractive colours, with the predominant colour being a metalic silver colour.
There are limited sound effects, and no music. During the game you have whistle sounds for free kicks / corners have crown noises dependant on the action occuring, e.g. when a goal is scored you hear loud cheers, and 'Ooooh's' for a near miss.
I chose Chester City from League two, as I want a challenge to get up to the Premier League. My first season involved playing properly, trying to influence results via tactics, using good physio's and coaches for the team, but the effort seemed to have no bearing on the results. I finished 9th - a bit disappointing but I survived. I then played another season to test the difficulty of the game - I chose initial tactics for my team and played through an entire season without changing them. I did not View Match, I just went straight the result. I won a lot of games, and lost a few but finished that season in 6th. Draw your own conclusions?
Notably, the positive aspect of this game is that it is certainly different! I have played many football management games in my time and they have been fairly similar to each other in terms of presentation and interface. Football Director is totally different, which means that it does not easily fall into the mould.
My first experience of a management game was Football Manager on the Spectrum by Kevin Toms, and it was very basic - you could only pick domestic teams and there were limited options for your team. However, it was also a hell of a lot of fun, and Football Director is very similar. You cannot choose international squads unlike most games, you cannot buy players from foreign teams and it is not very challenging at all to play. You do not have to change your tactics widely throughout the course of the game, and it is very easy to see yourself near the top of the table with little effort.
Personally, however, Football Director is a catastophic disappointment. My experience of football management games started at the age of 10 and I get enjoyment from the challenge of selecting tactics that will counter the strengths of your opposing team. On other games, I have taken poor performing teams and taken them from strength to strength through coaching, strategies, tactics and purchases of good players from abroad. With Football Director, none of these attributes need to be present to perform well. For people wanting a first step management game, this is good. However, for people who take management games seriously, this game is surplus to requirements.
My recommendation - good for pure beginners or if you only own a DS. For intermediate / expert standard - purchase something else!