Football Manager 2011 is the next game in the highly regarded and addictive Football Manager series. Football Manager allows everyday football fan to experience the highs of winning championships or signing a big name superstar player to the stress of dealing with the board, disgruntled players and player agents. And now thanks to new additions and a few tweaks, the game is now that much more realistic.
The beauty of Football Manager is that it does a fantastic job of reflecting the experiences of the day to day running of a football club, both on and off the pitch; such as signing players and dealing with their agents. One of the new features is the increased role of the player agent, and as manager, you’ll need to work with the agent to come to an agreeable fee for that one player you know will help land that championship trophy. The agents in the game have different types of personalities, which will affect how you approach the contract discussions. Play hardball with an impatient agent, and you’ll more than likely see that player sign with another club.
The contracts themselves include several clauses such as appearance fees, wage increase after reaching club career leagues and many more. These clauses are great, as they can be used as leverage when haggling with an agent who refuses to budge on the base salary.
The game includes improved interaction between you and others in the game; like the board, the press, players and backroom staff. Players will now approach you to discuss issues that are on their mind, such as the way you handled a transfer or stripped the existing captain of the captaincy. The chats with players have a conversational feel, as you converse back and forth. You can talk about issues such as advice on future signings, general happiness and even about tutoring other players. Unfortunately, the actual dialogue available is generic and there is no sense of the player’s personality in the answers.
Press conferences will also affect player morale, as well as influencing your reputation amongst your colleagues. The generic positive, neutral and negative answers are available, along with the option to type in additional comments. The latter didn’t really seem to add anything to the outcome.
Match preparation is now deeper than before, with the ability to prepare for games using up to three different formations. This is useful during games, as players will be comfortable with the different formations if different tactics need to be executed during a game. Here, you can also focus on specific areas to improve the team, such as team blending and attacking movements. You can also read reports on the next match, and all the stats relevant to that team.
The downside to the huge amount of data and detail in Football Manager is that newcomers to the game may feel overwhelmed and daunted by the complexity of the game and the not so user friendly interface. Sports Interactive have tried to improve this by revamping and simplifying certain areas of the game and providing on screen help via the advisor. The training schedule is now easier to adjust, as the workload of the players can be set using a slide bar. In the end, due to the sheer depth of the game, only so much can be simplified. Football Manager isn’t a simple pick up and play type of game, rather it’s a time consuming title that does offer the gamer a substantial reward for the time invested in the form of superb gameplay and detail.
In real life, successful managers have an excellent staff to support them, and this is no different in Football Manager. Members of your staff will help run the team by providing you with suggestions regarding tactics, signings and training ideas. Your Assistant Manager will even provide you with feedback before and during games, which you can use to tweak tactics; which turned out to be very useful. Be mindful of certain suggestions from your staff, as it may not always be the right decision. For example, a coach may suggest that a certain player change their style of play. Suggest this to the player, and he may take this the wrong way and his opinion of you may sour.
The game also includes several new player animations for matches viewed in 3D, and this does help with the presentation of the matches. The great thing about Football Manager is that no matter what the matches look like, you’ll still feel involved in the game, due to the fact that it’s your tactics played out on the field. I did find though that the interface was quite bland and the version of the game I played had no other skin options for the interface, and this was unfortunate as these screens are what you’ll be looking at for the majority of your playing time.
The Dynamic League Reputation means that as the team you manage becomes stronger and starts to fill its trophy cabinet with major championships, the reputation of the league itself will become stronger, meaning that it will be easier to lure the big name players. This reflects the real world scenarios, where players want to play on teams and leagues that will help them win trophies.
Football Manager 2011 is a solid title that will keep the loyal fans happy. And thanks to the new additional features and tweaks, the game creates a near authentic experience of the on and off field actions of a football manager.