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The beautiful game of the beautiful game
Football Manager 2010 (PC)
Member Name: Craggybuk
Football Manager 2010 (PC)
Advantages: The most realistic management sim you will ever play
Disadvantages: Can be slow on older PC's, overly addictive
When the Collyer brothers came up with the idea of writing a football management game in 1992, they surely couldn't have dreamed of the success they would have and the cult following they would generate. The first version of Championship Manager was met with mixed reactions as it was as slow as a snail but after a few tweaks and enhancements, Championship Manager 93 soon became a bestseller and a nation of management playing PC owners were hooked.
The Championship Manager series went from strength to strength until in 2005 when the developer, Sports Interactive went their separate ways to publisher Eidos. It was agreed that Eidos retain the name, Championship manager whilst Sports Interactive retained all the games programming code. As Sports Interactive needed a new name for their title, the Football Manager Series was born. This series has been improved on year on year. The latest release Football Manager 2010 was released in October 2009 and, like previous versions does not fail to impress.
There are two ways in which Football Manager 2010 can be installed. The first way is the traditional DVD installation. This requires the DVD to be inserted into your drive and the files are installed directly from it. Once the game has been installed, the original DVD must be present whilst loading the game in order for the game to establish that you are using a legitimate copy.
The second method for installing the game is for those of you who prefer to purchase your software as downloads. The game can be bought via the Steam website (store.steampowered.com/app/34000/) which will allow you to download the software and install it automatically. Obviously, if you choose this method, you will not need the disk in the drive whilst loading as you will not have a disk.
If you choose the Steam method, all updates to the software will be downloaded and installed automatically as they become available. If you have the disk version, you will need to install these patches manually. There is an option in the game to check for updates but personally, I think its best to keep an eye on the official forums as all updates will be posted here when available.
Whichever method you choose, the installation process takes approximately 20 minutes although this will depend on the speed of your PC.
In the early days, football management simulations only used to ship with one nations leagues, in its latter days, Championship Manager broke this mould and started giving you the opportunity to manage in different countries around Europe. Football Manager has continued this momentum and in Football Manager 2010 you can choose to load active leagues from upto 51 countries. Whilst this sounds staggering, I would advise that you never get anywhere close to running all these leagues as your PC will grind to a halt when it comes to processing all the data it is required to do. You will also lose the will to live as this game does take a long time to progress at the best of times. As a benchmark, I am using a quad core PC with 3Gb of RAM and am playing the English, Scottish and French Leagues all the way down to the lowest level and it takes me about 4 to 5 hours to play a season (not all in one go). Football Manager is extremely flexible when it comes to league configurations. You get to choose which is the lowest playable league for each country, meaning in essence, you could only choose the Premiership or you could opt to play right down to Conference North and South Level. I would only recommend choosing minimum leagues from a country if it is your intention to add several more countries to your game. In all my time playing this game, I have only ever taken a job outside of England on a couple of occasions. It is a nice security net to have the minor leagues included in the game as if you fail miserably with a top team, there is always somewhere for you to go.
Football Manager 2010 uses a full 365 day calendar which progresses a day at a time. On non matchdays it is your job to search for new players, organise your training schedules, organise player contracts, face the media and generally keep your house in order. It is not just the football side of things you need to keep an eye on however, if the clubs finances take a turn for the worse, you'll have the club chairman on your back, putting you under pressure to reduce the wage bill which could mean selling the clubs prized assets. Interactions with other in game personnel plays a big part in your success as a manager as you will need to build up relationships with players and rival managers alike as you plot your route to glory.
When it comes to the matchday, this is where you really earn your money. Obviously you need to pick your team which again could lead to problems if a player doesn't take too kindly to being left out. Add to this the added pressure of getting your tactics right and motivating your players in the right way to go out and do the job you want them to and suddenly you realise this is different to any other football simulation you have ever played. There have been many times when I've been at work and all I could think about was who I should play on the left wing and which striker to buy. Now this may seem sad, but playing Football Manager is almost like you are living another life and I am pleased to find out from reading the games excellent forums that its not just me that goes off into this little make believe world.
As Football Manager is an annual release, the game needs to contain more than just database updates in order to ensure its massive fanbase keeps on purchasing each year. Sports Interactive are generally excellent at making improvements to the game each year so that it almost feels like you are playing a totally new game but keeping with the same interface so that there is no extra learning curve.
In Football Manager 2010, the main enhancements are :-
Code optimisation - The programming behind the game has been tweaked to allow the game to flow a lot faster than previous versions. This is vitally important as the game is so processor intensive, every second that can be saved is going to make a massive difference. The interface is now more intuitive and more information is displayed on your summary screen than ever before. This is a great improvement as now that you don't need to change screen to view most of the key information, loading times are vastly reduced.
Match analysis - You are now able to view stats and graphics about where shots were taken from or areas where tackles and fouls were made from both teams. This information probably seems pretty pointless to most people reading this review but it is very important if you want to make sure your team keep winning. For example, if the stats are showing that most of the oppositions shots are from close in then your defence is probably playing too deep and allowing forwards to push onto them, to counter this you may need to change your tactics or maybe even change a player.
News Centre - You can now choose which items of news you want to receive. In earlier versions you had no control over this and constantly had to scroll through numerous news stories which had no relevance to the club that you were managing at the time. I think this simple change has again made the game a lot quicker to progress.
The most radical change in the history of the game happened in Football Manager 2009 with the addition of the 3D match engine. Previously, gamers had been treated to text based commentary and then little circles running around the pitch. These simple visuals worked very well so the 3D idea was met with some resistance, especially as it was flawed in its execution. Over the past 12 months, a lot of time and effort has gone into the match engine and it has paid off greatly as now, the matchday experience is a joy to watch rather than the tedious unrealistic experience it was in Football Manager 2009. Over 100 extra player animations have been added to the game which make the match more realistic than ever. In my opinion, the biggest improvement has gone into the goalkeeping, no longer does the keeper stand and watch as the striker walks round him and scores when in real life he wouldn't have even have been first to the ball, also when players kick the ball, they now actually go through the kicking motion rather than the ball flying around the pitch without being touched by any of the players. In game stadiums have also had a lick of paint and now actually hold a crowd instead of the empty shell that was present in Football Manager 2009. This might seem a cosmetic change but it really does add to a great experience, especially when they crowd start celebrating when a goal is scored.
In my opinion, the match engine in Football Manager 2010 was a key feature which would pretty much determine the direction of the product in the future. If the match engine failed to live up to expectations then a lot of the fanbase would start becoming increasingly demoralised and might even stop buying the game, however if Sports Interactive could get it right then their masterpiece would be an almost perfect representation of the beautiful game. Thankfully it's the latter, the match engine is completely unrecognisable from 12 months ago and I for one am delighted about this.
In previous versions, I have found it very difficult to offload players I no longer required in my squad. In Football Manager 2010, the transfer system has had a complete rewrite to make it more realistic than ever. When you want to get rid of a player, you can now offer them to clubs as you could before, only clubs are now more likely to be interested in your players. Buying players has also had a rework as more styles of paying for players comes into the real game. It is now more common to stagger payments for players over a period of months rather than paying a lump sum up front. The computer controlled teams now make more bids of this type for your players as well as offering other incentives such as a percentage of the next sale or a set payment after a number of league or international games to name a couple. Beware though, if you have aspirations of trying to prise a first team regular away from his club, you are going to have to pay over the odds to do it. If his club are really being stubborn, you can release a press statement showing your admiration towards the player to try and get him to plead with his club to allow him to speak to you. This is a brilliant option as this goes on all the time in real life.
As Football Manager 2010 is an extremely complex piece of software, it is inevitable that bugs are going to creep in. Sports Interactive are very responsive to constructive criticism of the game and typically release 3 patches per year. The first of these patches is normally released on the same day as the game and will include all transfers that have happened since the previous release as well as fixing the majority of bugs reported. Patches are very simple to install as they automatically detect where the game is installed and update the appropriate files with very little human input.
If you are a fan of non-league football divisions that do not normally feature in the game, there is now an update that allows you to play down to level 11 of the pyramid which is pretty much parks football. All these teams have the correct players and data associated with them. This add on is one of Football Managers best kept secrets. If you wish to play as a real small team, go to http://community.sigames.com/showthread.php?t=1590 82 to get instructions on how to do this.
As with all games that seem to be released today, Football Manager 2010 includes online play. This only really works best with friends as playing online is identical to offline play in its workings. In reality, you are doing everything that you would normally do in the offline game, the only difference being that several of your friends are doing exactly the same but as part of the same game. This adds a bit of competition to playing but it can get a bit tedious when you are waiting for a player to complete a transfer which is holding everyone up. This mode does bring great excitement though when you come to play a match against another human opponent.
Due to its vast amount of number crunching, Football Manager 2010 does require quite a powerful PC in order to run. Requirements are going to differ from person to person as it is all dependant on how many different leagues you want to run. In order to run the English league alone you will need :-
Windows XP / Vista /7
2Ghz Processor for Windows Vista / 7 or 1.4Ghz for Windows XP
1Gb RAM for Windows Vista / 7 or 512Mb for Windows XP
2Gb Disk space
The game will also run on an Apple Mac from the same disk. System requirements for the Mac are :-
OS X 10.5 Operating System
2Gb Disk Space
The fact I have played every one of these games since 1993 speaks volumes about the quality of the game. Football Manager 2010 is without doubt the best of the series to date. All the negative points from Football Manager 2009 have been addressed and improved on in order to enhance the gaming experience. Couple this with the new features that have been added for the first time in this game and you have a game that is extremely close to being perfect. This is the type of game that you need to devote an evening to in order to get the most out of it. If you want a game that you can pick up and get to the action straight away then this is not the game for you. The game is very rewarding and you get out of it what you put in. It is worth taking the time to set up players training routines and making sure players do exactly what you want them to do as failure to do this will mean that even the most talented squads will fail to perform for you. As a researcher for this game for the past ten years, I know how much detail goes into each players ability and when you think that every club around the world that is featured in the game has their own dedicated researcher its plain to see why this the most realistic simulation I have ever played. If you have never played this game before and are seriously thinking about playing it then it is essential that your PC meets the minimum requirements otherwise you are in for a very slow game which is certainly not fun when you are waiting for the game to process. If you have bought a PC in the past 18 months to 2 years, you will be fine with this game. As soon as you have installed the game, I would recommend checking for updates as there have now been two patches released for the game and there will be a new data update at the beginning of February to contain all of the January transfers. If you are into your football management simulations then there is not really any other alternative. This is the game to own.
This review is also posted on Ciao.co.uk. Its very slow over there so I could really do with some extra reads. If you do check out my review there you will be treated to some nice screenshots of this excellent game
Summary: Simply the best, its not even up for debate.
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