By the time this article gets published, most of you will be in a position to evaluate the pros and cons of Football Manager Live’s newest 1.3. As you know, FM Live is constantly being evolved to enhance the user’s overall gaming experience, but how does 1.3 help with this? I’m highlighting some of the most obvious changes that should see the biggest impact on game worlds.
The previous update was (unfairly in my opinion) criticised in some quarters for not providing anything new to do within the game. However, the guys from Sports Interactive have been hard at work trying to improve this side of Football Manager Live.
I think the biggest improvement in this aspect has been the AI teams. Not to be confused with the current AI system, the new ‘computer controlled teams’ should provide an incentive to stay logged on when there’s no one else around to play against. It is worth noting that AI teams will not have any effect on player progression so, playing your youths against a level 20 team will give no advantage to developing them the usual way. However, if you need to void your players of the dreaded ‘green boots of death’ or want to test your fringe players’ ability to play at a higher level, AI teams will be perfect for this.
As hinted at above, these non-human sides come in all shapes and sizes. Ranging from the dire (level 1) to the near-superhuman (level 20), you’ll always find a team to challenge. Whether it be to test your side’s metal against a top team or, if morale is low and you can’t buy a win, to beat a team so weak you then realise why you devoted so much time acquiring your team in the first place, there is always someone at the right level.
Another factor in AI teams is the descriptions given. Every team (be it in real life or in a game) has certain aspect to their play. Some will be full of lightning quick superstars. Other will have a slow powerful side built to frustrate opponents. These CPU controlled clubs all have descriptions of how they play their football and the kind of players they have. An example screenshot can be seen here.
CPU teams are something that can be built upon. It has been confirmed that ‘missions’ will be added at a later to date. These missions will be a way to challenge your side and your tactical ability and there is talk of being able to complete missions with friends which should certainly add to the community aspect.
A somewhat controversial decision was to add offline ‘Match Plans’ to 1.3. The idea of this was to have more control over the games that you couldn’t get online to play. Everyone has matches that go to AI and this is a way to feel as if you have more say in these results. So, you set up scenarios and dictate what changes are made under these circumstances. For instance, if your side go 2-0 down early on, you can set your team to attack with more frequency and play with more direct passing.
Making a match plan works in a similar way to how the current tactics creator functions. A wizard-style set-up will accompany you in the process, making it a simple and easy task. Depending on how precise you want the system to work, you have the choice of a basic and more advanced option, ensuring you have total control over your side’s ‘AI manager.’
You can use as many match plans as you wish, too, meaning that all angles and situations can be covered. But, what if you wanted to set different plans for home/away games? You can do that too. Teams often employ different tactics in home games than away games, where their fans and familiarity with the environment can give them a massive advantage. You can easily do this by going into the ‘Squads’ tab in the ‘Preferences’ menu.
I think one of the biggest benefits of this addition is that no longer can people say that the AI is too strong or weak. Anyone who visits the official forums with any kind of regularity will know that this was one of the biggest complaints and, despite a member of Sports Interactive giving proof in one thread that the AI isn’t too strong, conspiracies were still being thrown around. This should dispel the myth once and for all.
New Match Engine
…and the winner of the “Largest amount of people blaming one aspect of the game award” goes to… The Match Engine!! When you take into account just how many variables and lines of code that go into making a match engine that is likely to be far more superior than the one any other management sim, you start to realise that the match engine will never be perfect. No matter how many man-hours are put into working on this aspect, there will always be something that is wrong with it.
I do sympathise (to some extent) with some of the “ME Haters” as I dub them. Things like the corner exploit do make a huge impact on the game. I will come out and admit that I take full advantage of this exploit (hey, its dog it eat dog, you know), however, not to the extent of some managers who manage to get a centre back with a goal ratio of 1 in 2.
If you really want a read, check out the full list of ME fixes and improvements. However, I’d also suggest Mark Burton’s brilliant article covering the more important aspect of the ME. I feel it is just worth pointing out that the updated Match Engine will only kick in once your season has finished. For some people, that will mean waiting a week or two but for others, it will update on the same day that 1.3 reaches us.
What else is there?
With the major enhancements covered, I’ll go through a few of the other useful additions. One of which is the ability for FAs to run competitions outside of the normal season. During my short time being an FAO (Football Association Organiser), I often tried to set up pre-season leagues and cups just for members of my FA. However, to do this, I had to create an unofficial competition and advertise it to my FA members which made it more difficult. If I had the ability to gauge interest at an earlier date and then just assign the specific teams to the comp, it would have been great.
There has been an alteration in the DND (Do not disturb) mode which will see the AI advantage of this in the previous system being nullified. Before now, players on DND would not show up on the opposition team’s ‘Opponents Online’ tab. They could essentially stay online for as long as they wanted, accumulating AI rights in the process. If the player has ‘Block Competition Challenges’ ticked, they will no longer be able to challenge teams, ensuring more balance from now on.
1.2 saw the introduction of a new skin. This has now been updated and looks a lot smoother and more refreshing.
I’ll finish off with the news on regens. The vast majority of regens will now generate at the start of the new season. Previously, it was quite an arduous task to replace a full squad of youth players who went over the age limit of a certain squad (U17 for example). Now, when players age a year at the very beginning of a new season, lots of regens should start pouring into the free agents list, making it much easier to acquire your new squad of future wonderkids.
Hopefully, everyone will have a positive opinion on the update and the transition will go as smoothly as possible.
|Written By Tom Hales
Tom is a long-term FML player with an interest in scouting and finding great talent. You can follow the fortunes of his team at armchairamateurs.com, his FML side's official blog.