Now I’m not a huge gamer. I actually tend watch gameplay videos on YouTube more often than actually play the game. I don’t even have a dedicated games console. All the games I play are played on this very machine I’m writing this blog on. But there is one video game franchise I have played religiously for over ten years. One that I eagerly await and pre-order every year. And that is Football Manager. I have owned and played every yearly release of this game since 2008. Every single one. Some hanker for the more classic Championship Manager but I look forward to a new release of FM every year with huge anticipation. This series is far more about evolution than revolution. Unlike FIFA, Sports Interactive are able to bring out a game that makes subtle changes that make a big difference.
For those of you who’ve never played or heard of the Football Manager video game series, it is, as you might have guessed, a football-management-simulation where you create a new manager to take control of various football teams around the world and go from an up-and-comer to tactical genius and legend of the game. And unlike FIFA where you take control of the players on the field, your tactics, team-talk, the role you assign for each player, the substitutions you make and the mentality you set determines the result. Some have made the claim that this makes FM a very passive game, little more than constantly looking at spreadsheets. I would argue that the game is actually one of the most immersive around, certainly since they introduced the 3D match engine. Before, you were watching a birds eye view of numbered sprites moving around. The 3D match engine has only gotten better as well. It takes you far more into the experience when you can see human figures and an actual stadium rather than numbered circles which could only be told apart by what colour they were.
They’ve added numerous features over the years as well, like press conferences, live transfer and contract negotiations, whole new tactical presets and player roles, individual training that you can tailor to each player, the list goes on and on. Some players have claimed that these additions have made the game unnecessarily cluttered and way too in-depth to be enjoyable. I don’t agree with that at all, but Sports Interactive listened and for a number of years have made a mode available which is far more streamlined.
To me, FM is such a good game because of its details. How in-depth you can go with the training etc. It draws you into the ‘career’ much more strongly than FIFA’s career mode. The scouting for the game of the all the young players is done by professionals who are so good, their database is used by the top sides when scouting youth players. That is absolutely true. Their scouting network for a video game is so good that actual professional football teams use it to buy players in real life. The level of detail in everything you do in the game draws you further and further in. The requests you can put to the board, everything from asking to find affiliate club to building a new stadium rewards you for putting the time into your save. You can go straight to your team and take the squad of today to glory or you can start unemployed in the lower divisions and get there through the merit of the results you achieve. You can find the next Messi or Ronaldo and develop them into a world-beater.
You often see football sites posting articles at the start of the season where they’ve run a simulation of the upcoming season on FM to see what might happen. Other experiments like that have been done including on Sky Sports where they compared an entire team of Jamie Carragher against an entire team of Gary Neville. That’s a show of how much the footballing community trusts Sports Interactive and FM to be accurate in their statistics and in their predictions.
FM is the perfect game for me as a casual gamer. It doesn’t ask too much of my laptop, it’s about a sport I love, provides a different perspective from the other major football games on the market and gives me far too confidence that I actually know what I’m talking about with regards to tactics and players that I’ve never actually met.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to return to my career with Burnley.