Oct 10

FM2010 Pre Release Reviews


There’s no question, unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for 15 years, that the Football Manager series has innovated the genre of sports simulation games. Not only that, Sports Interactive has continually and consistently raised the bar for themselves each and every year to produce a fresh product that greatly expands the scope of the previous FM release. This time, Football Manager 2010 may just be the version that ends up being too hard to actually top.

According to MCV, it’s been predicted by SEGA that FM2010 will be the biggest PC release in Q4 of this year. Due to hit the shelves on October 30th, the company is putting a significant amount of money and resources into the awareness of the game. This includes an extensive retailer promotional initiative, national press and  a wide-spread TV campaign concentrated around live football matches. Football Manager 2010 will also be marketed heavily online in affiliation with Sky Sports and Football 365 to reach over four million people over a month or so.

“Football Manager 2009 was an absolute phenomenon” according to James Schall, SEGA Marketing Manager on a previous episode of the Get Sacked! Podcast. From the looks of the attitude the company is showing for this year’s release, it’s hard to imagine FM2010 not breaking sales records once again. In addition to a pre-order campaign unmatched by most publishers, Sports Interactive Studio Director Miles Jacobson has teamed up with the Daily Mirror posting exclusive blogs and screenshots leading up to the game’s release.

Enough with the hype though… has anyone had the chance to actually check out Football Manager 2010 before it hits the shelves? One such individual that was given the privilege to take a sneak peek at the pre-release code was Martin Korda of Eurogamer.

In his recent hands on review of FM2010, Korda’s impression is this year’s incarnation will continue Sports Interactive’s dominance over the football management genre. While it took him quite a while to get used to the complete visual reconstruction of the playing experience, it proved to be a much more user-friendly approach in navigating the game’s bevy of features and screens. He also highlights some of the enhancements in the match engine and gives particular praise to the new touchline instructions:

“Selecting your orders from a drop-down list, you can yell instructions such as retain possession, get the ball forward, pass into space and look for the overlap. These instructions stay active until you decide to cancel them and you can issue a number of orders at any one time. After some intense testing, this new on-the-fly tactical tool proves a real winner, with players visibly responding to my barked commands.”

On the other hand, he’s reserving judgement on the new tactics creator:

“It’s likely to help newcomers get to grips with the complexities and intricacies of creating detailed match strategies, yet there’s also a lingering suspicion that veteran users may find the whole process a tad patronising.”

Although GameWorldOne.Com may be biased by the fact that our editor-in-chief, Gareth Millward, was a primary contributer to the new tool… it’s this American’s opinion that the reluctance of many long-standing Football Manager gamers to utilize this type of feature may just come down to stubbornness. The thought that they may actually need assistance and they’re not FM gods is so stereotypically… British.

Alongside with the more friendly approach to tactics, Korda also applauds the sheer amount of feedback the game gives back regarding a user’s decisions when managing his squad. Backroom assistance is dramatically improved with the ability to call meetings with your staff and ascertain suggestions on improving club-related areas. No longer will you have to accomplish this feat on your own – there’s a one click functionality to immediately take a recommendation and put the desired effect into action.

In this new age of social media and one touch access to enough information to make your head explode, FM 2010 features an extensive array of news reports for the user’s consumption. Key transfers, match-related snippets and much more is available at the click of the mouse – with excellent filter settings to define exactly the types of information you’d like displayed. Do you want Romanian second division injury reports even though you’re a Icelandic Premier Division club? Well, you now have the option to do so and customize news to your heart’s content.

On a more negative note, Korda shows slight disappointment with team talks and media interaction:

“The former still seems unclear when it comes to gauging how your comments affect your players, while the latter remains rather hit-and-miss. Once a press conference is called you’re bombarded with questions, some of which are impressively probing, but it’s your choice of answers that sometimes disappoints, often feeling like tiered and rather generic responses rather than the genuinely distinctive, even off-the-wall answers that a manager might offer.”

For the past few years, many members of the hardcore FM community have shown a bit dismay in the progress of the series. While the 3D match engine that was introduced into Football Manager 2009 was definitely a major addition, there was a sense of it being “incomplete” and failing to reach it’s full potential. On the official forums, there was also a sentiment that there wasn’t enough of a drastic change in game play since FM07. From the looks of the Eurogamer preview, it’s probably best to quash those thoughts right now and expect a extremely different user experience – hopefully for the better. The hardcore community behind the game is quite resistant to change regardless, so will this year’s release start with a flurry of “I liked it better the old way!” rants?

In an obscure blog post (likely written by a beta tester), Ilker Ugar backs up the opinion of Martin Korda that the new game play interface will take quite some time to get accustomed to:

“Superb user interface, easy to learn, really hard to master. Pitchside instructions are working OK. They are hard to master. Shortcuts are not really shortcuts. Again takes time to learn. Assistant advices are really helpful. The advices of the assistant, scouts or any other staff member can be backed up or dismissed. More realistic media interface. However press conferences are still boring. 3D Graphic Engine is working much much better. It is a joy to watch the game.”

From the resources SEGA is pumping into it’s promotion, the hype that’s being delivered by media, the number of pre-orders placed already and the sheer amount of eager gamers discussing their anticipation on Facebook and Twitter… will Football Manager 2010 live up to the lofty expectations being placed upon it by all sides? Will it become even more of a phenomenon and break the sales records of last year’s incarnation? I guess we’ll have to wait until October 30th to find out.

Written By Jordan Cooper
A moderator on GW Fowler and a co-founder of Gameworld One.Com, he has hosted/produced the Get Sacked! podcast for nearly two years providing humor and strategical insight to all about the FM series.
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  • John Bad Shot

    I think the tactic creator is an awesome addition to FM (less so to FML) and massively reduces the entry barrier to the game. I have long lamented the nonsensical nature of the slider system and how it doesn't really translate into how you want your team to play "I want to play 60% attacking!!" etc,

    My concern is, with the amount of tactics which have been created and added, they have not been tested as 'successful tactics' - possibly deliberately. Millie is self admittedly (on the podcast) a more casual player of the game, and has posted articles about more theoretical old school type tactics too. So i'm not so confident these tactics have been tested at length. While this is all rather interesting to read it doesn't necessarily give much of an insight into creating a tactic which works within the current ME. Something which is supposed to work in real life may not necessarily work within the ME. I consider testing variants, watching matches and discussing results to be sensible, not "stereotypically British.

    I've read the tactical theroms/frameworks over the years with interest and have learnt several things from it while disagreeing with some of the points. (as I have experimented and read more, I seem to disagree with more and more areas for some reason) I applaud you for essentially creating something which has made it into not only FML but FM too - an impressive achievement indeed.

    I'd urge anyone above an 'intermediate' user to delve into the player instructions and change them to suite your players at the very least. The tactics creator seems to create a tactic where you need specific players to fill certain role. I do not agree with this approach, and myself create a tactic to suite my players attributes and ability.

  • Which is why we have had quite a few European testers playing with it too. I understand your concerns over the philosophy behind it, but it was deliberately designed so that you didn't have to play a "British" style. And again, like I said, it *HAS* been tested to see what works in the ME rather than what "should" work - it was the whole basis of the system, and has been tested not only by the thousands of people playing FML but by the dedicated FM10 beta testing team.

    That is hasn't been tested is a criticism I don't accept. Regarding the philosophy of using specific player roles etc. - that's perhaps legitimate. And I would also encourage intermediate and advanced users to look at ths sliders and adjust them according to the skills of their players. But we've been refining these settings to fit the match engine for the last 6 months - so I wouldn't worry on that front! :-)

  • John Bad Shot

    I thought that the reluctance of people moving toward the tactic creator might be based on the fact that the tactics use theoretically nonsense rather than stuff that is proven to work within the ME. If each of the individual tactics and shouts have been tested several hundred times I might be inclined to use them, but as things stand i'm more inclined to use my own variants with have been tried and tested in thousands of matches rather than something which is supposed to work in real life.

  • Yeah, as Jordan says in the article. I can't give an objective opinion. However, I can say that the shouts and the creator have been changed quite a bit to cater for what "is proven to work in the ME" rather than simply going along the lines of "this should work, whap it in!"

    As Jordan also says, 4-6 months in FML, plus the testing of dedicated FM players - and, all the while, the input from the guy who actually codes the match engine (Paul Collyer) mean that it's not just theory that this stuff works in the ME - we KNOW it works in the ME.

    With the individual sliders, I'm sure you can improve upon it and make stronger tactics. That was also the intention.

    The AI uses the tactics creator too. I doubt SI would have coded it that deeply into its game if this was just theoretical.

    But I'll leave it there - as I said, I can't offer an objective opinion. All I'll say is please actually TRY the thing before stating it as a failure.

  • What do you mean that the tactics use theoretical nonsense?

    The tactics creator and touchline shouts are just an interface overlaid over the "classic" slider/check-box system. Instead of having to micro-manage mentalities, tempos, widths, etc on a team AND individual level, you will be able to just say "Play Wider" and it will adjust everything for you.

    The new interface has been tested for a good 4-6 months in Football Manager Live, the FM2010 beta and was designed by PaulC & SI in conjunction with the input of all the top match engine & tactical gurus in the community. I think that's more then enough credibility than you could possibly expect.

  • TomHales

    I haven't looked forward to an offline version of FM since getting hooked on FML really, until this one which I have been following every step of the way. All the blogs and podcasts have been a good way of being kept in the loop and it's good to hear positive reviews from people already having the chance to play the game.

    My copy has already ben pre-ordered for a mere £17.99 from Zavvi!!

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