Product Type: Sega PC games
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Football Manager 2011
Football Manager 2011 (PC)
Member Name: costas1
Football Manager 2011 (PC)
Advantages: tactical and dynamic football management game
Disadvantages: gameplay can be a little repetitive, poor 3D match
Football Manager 2011 is the most recent edition created by Sports Interactive and Sega. Having played and reviewed Fifa Manager previously I was interested to try out the game and draw some comparisons to ultimately determine which of the two games is better.
The game starts in the 2010/11 season. You have the choice of managing a team in a major or minor league from across the world. The default setup of the game is based around England, Germany, Spain and Italy although you could choose to play or simulate the leagues of many countries including Portugal, USA, Mexico or Holland, amongst many others. The nations you pick to play allow you to receiving or apply for managerial opportunities in these countries.
Once you have selected the country and league you want the game to start in you can view team information such as reputation, estimated value, financial status, stadium capacity, quality of training and youth facilities and the media's season predication. You can also view the players and check that you have some decent players in the team before selecting the team to begin your management career.
The game progresses on a daily basis. The default screen is your email inbox. Typically messages that drop into your inbox include scout reports for future match fixtures, injury reports from the club physio and scout reports on potential transfers. The default page also includes team status information such as highlighting players that are injured, wanted by another club or have been transferred listed or are moving to another club.
Before match days your scout will provide a brief report on the next opposition which includes likely formation, tactics, key players and results and statistics for past meetings. You can also talk to the media, in relation to the manager of the other team or comment on the dangerman, which can put their striker under pressure to perform which might reduce their impact on the pitch.
On match days you pick or ask one of your coaches to pick your starting eleven and subs. After selecting your team you can ask your assistant for opposition instructions such as tight marking or hard tackling and then set your team tactics including player instructions. There also the tactics and set-piece wizard which can be used to define formation, strategy and how the team will attack and defend set-plays.
During the match, you can make tactical changes from switching formation to playing more attack or defence. Players get tired and their condition decreases. When players' are tired they often make mistakes and do not perform to their best ability, so best to ensure fresh legs are on the pitch. Players are also rated during the match so you can substitute a player that is not performing on the day. At half time you can conduct a team talk to motivate your players.
During and at the end of the match, you can access player analysis and statistics including shots on goal, pass completion %, tackles%, headers won%, number of assists and goals. Knowing who the best performing players are essential as these may not actually be the players with the highest transfer value or attribute values. The key players and man of the match are listed and a brief commentary from the media if the result was as expected or a surprise. The results of other league/cup matches are displayed.
As the focus of the game is mainly on the management of the football club chosen, the quality of the graphics whilst sufficient is not particularly exciting. You can select to view the stadium and crowd which makes it a little more interesting viewing. Watching a match in 3D mode, the graphics are generic and it appears that team/player instructions are not reflected on the pitch.
Sometimes, when tactical changes are made during the game, the match pauses although the players look like they're running on the spot until the program has processed the changes. I guess if you are really into the controlling of in-match tactics and want the full experience of dynamic tactical changes then this is the mode you would play. The game does however progress at a slow speed even at the fastest match speed which I suppose could be good as it provides enough time to analyse the match and change tactics before it is too late.
There are other modes for match day including 2D match in which players are depicted a colored dot and their shirt number and you can watch the football move around the pitch like a ping-pong ball. For me this is a rubbish way to view football matches and the interactivity is minimal. In fact the 2D match mode is probably only part of the game for nostalgic purposes.
The other match day mode is commentary only which I think is the best and most efficient. Whilst showing a screen with match information such as score, goal scorers, players booked, shots, shots on target and possession%, at the bottom there is a text commentary of the play that is occurring. When there is a key moment or a goal the screen switches to the 3D match to show the highlight. During the match you can check the latest scores for other league fixtures and keep up to date with the league table.
One minor drawback is that the profiles of most Premier League players do not contain a photograph. I guess this has to do with sponsorship rights of the player. Nevertheless this is a little disappointing as most players in League One have photograph on their profile. There are however, unofficial facepacks which can be downloaded from FM2011 forums and fan-base websites which contain photographs of many players from major leagues around the world. In my opinion updating the profiles of players to have a photograph enhances gameplay as without the photograph, player profiles are a little abstract, which makes it a bit boring.
Music is generally quite poor for the game. There is no music whilst the game progresses. During 2D and 3D matches there is no live commentary, only crowd noise.
After starting the game you can opt in to play a second team in the reserve league. This can be useful for secondary players to get some experience and for injured first team players to build up match fitness.
As club manager you are also responsible for hiring/firing staff and negotiating contracts. You can search for staff at the transfer centre and poach staff from your competitors. At your assistance are player and youth coaches, fitness coaches, physios and scouts. When searching for staff you can compile a list based on their coaching and mental attributes, which are rated numerically from 1 (low) - 20 (high). You can also offer your senior players a coaching or scouting role once they have retired from playing.
Forming a good staff base is essential to providing the best training and scouting systems for the club. The better the specialisation of the staff the better their services will be delivered for the benefit of the team. For example, you can allocate specific training exercises to staff that are strong in certain aspects of the game such as shooting, tactics, training goalkeepers etc. Each week you can focus training on team blend, defending, attacking and set-pieces.
Team blend is essential to ensure that players link up play and the best attributes of each player is utilised. Also team blend is affected by unsettled players or players that want to move clubs.
Picking an assistant manager with specialisation in defending will improve the quality of tactical feedback and player analysis during matches. Your staff will also provide you with pre-match advice and recommend tactics to defeat the next opponent.
Player interaction is an important part of the game as keeping your players happy increases team morale and produces good performances. Sometimes a player will complain about the training workload, or how the team is performing in relation to expectations. You can suggest moves to improve the player's impact on the field.
The board are your employers and this game makes that clear. There are a number of restrictions that the board will enforce. These include maximum wage/transfer budgets, staff numbers and management of club facilities. Any improvement must be suggested to the board who will decide whether or not to grant your request. Sometimes you can negotiate to your advantage whilst other times there may not be sufficient funding. In addition wage/transfer budgets are based on season expectations. If the board feel unsatisfied with your performance as manager they can sack you after a string of bad results.
When you get bored of managing a particular team and seek a new challenge, you can visit the jobcentre and view vacancies at other clubs. When applying for jobs whilst employed by another club, the board can get upset and demand that you resign or apologize. Apologising has no impact on your contract or wages and after there is no problem as it does not affect your job stability.
One flaw I did notice is that when you have switched clubs and look at club players you still get access to the scout report from your old club.
The game provides a good challenge as it is quite involved and there is plenty of interaction to make it quite realistic. As a club manager you need more than tactical awareness to win games, you need to be strive for the perfect balance of experience and talent to ensure the short term success and future of the club.
It is quite a realistic game as newly promoted teams generally struggle as they have financial restrictions in place and are unable to afford top quality players. Even when you can sign half decent players on free transfers and offer them decent wages, by the time the team blends it is usually too late as the team will perform to its best toward the end of season. Thus it takes time for players to gel and if importing foreign players, to overcome language barriers.
During the course of the year there are updates and hotfix's available from the official FM2011 website. These included patches to fix bugs and other software issues in addition to updating winter transfers.
At the time of writing (August 2011) there is no update for the current 2011/12 season which is a bit unfortunate as it ultimately means having to purchase the latest edition or attempting to buy the same players that have recently transferred to your team in real life. Football Manager 2012 is out 21 October 2011.
Despite the game not appearing to be visually dynamic the game does use up a lot of CPU resources. You will need a decent computer to run the game. Most times when I am playing the game on my laptop which exceeds the minimum requirements the fan will go into overdrive, usually when the game is processing the results of international games and during 2D and 3D matches. I'm not sure why that is and moreover I do not know why international games are being processed when I have not selected to play with a national team. It would have been better if the game concentrated on relevant aspects to the club.
OS: Windows XP/Vista/7
Processor: XP : 1.4GHz or Faster, Vista/W7 : 2.0GHz or Faster
Memory XP : 512MB RAM, Vista/7 : 1.0GB RAM
Graphics: 128MB Supported Chipsets - Nvidia FX 5900 Ultra or greater; ATI Radeon 9800 or greater; Intel 82915G/82910GL or greater.
DirectX: Version 9.0c (included)
Hard Drive: 2GB
Sound: DirectX 9.0c compatible
In comparison to the equivalent edition of FIFA Manager, FM2011 has in my opinion very similar interaction with team players and staff. It does however lack a good 3D match experience as there is no live commentary for match days. In addition and there is no instant results option. Consequently the matches take much longer to simulate.
Whilst the game is very playable and quite realistic, the gameplay can become quite monotonous as it would be easy just to pick the best players and field them continuously to gain the best results.
What makes the game more realistic than Fifa Manager is the board interaction and financial restrictions that are in place. This is big part of the game, finding quality players that are willing to play for menial wages then selling them on for a higher value and building the team accordingly. Even the rich clubs have restrictive policies, so even if you choose to manage Chelsea, there would only be money in the kitty for one quality transfer. So regardless of the team selected, there is strict financial control and an expectation to perform to agreed targets.
I haven't yet found the option of owning a club like it would be possible in Fifa Manager. Another big difference is the transfer values of players, which are more realistic in Fifa Manager. For example, Fernando Torres is worth less than £20 million whereas in Fifa Manager he is valued at what Chelsea had paid.
Overall I would rate the game very closely with Fifa Manager although football manager purist would disagree. If the 3D match was improved then I would put Football Manager ahead of Fifa Manager.
I posted the review around 2 years ago on Ciao UK under the screename of costas1234
Summary: a good football management game