So finally the time has come – the Football Manager 2010 demo has been released to the world, and the baying masses have their chance to troll on the Sports Interactive foru… what’s that, you say? There’s no trolling? It’s actually really very good? But… but… that’s not how things work!
The rampage on the official forums is an annual ritual. SI release a game, the vast majority love it, and the vocal minority pick it apart claiming every minor fault is the end of the world – it’s just how things are done. Rather, it’s how things used to be done; this year Sports Interactive promised us polish – and that is exactly what has been delivered: a game good enough that the main reason for it to get a day one patch is Stephen Carr not showing up in the Birmingham squad.
I’ve been privileged to have been a beta tester for Football Manager 2010, so much of this wasn’t new to me. I’ve known that FM2010 was going to be the best in the series for some time – I just couldn’t tell anyone. In fact, I’m still under a non-disclosure agreement, so I’d best be careful with this preview! The gold demo is firmly ensconced on hard drives around the world, though – so let’s run through some of the new features that people are already growing to love:
A new user interface
The first thing that the keen gamer will spot on heading in to Football Manager 2010 is that the game’s ‘graphical user interface’, or ‘GUI’, has been completely overhauled this year. Gone is the sidebar with its tree style menu; this is replaced with a crisp, modern skin where all the options and menus are grouped together in menus and tabs at the top of the screen.
This new approach means that the user doesn’t ever have to move the mouse too far to find what they want to click. It’s been quoted that the experienced FMer will take around an hour to get used to this new layout; it took this writer perhaps five minutes. The similarities with Football Manager Live are obvious, and perhaps my experience with this game helped in the process somewhat.
The other great advance is in customisability. The user can right-click on some of the drop down menus and select which shortcut icons they’d like displayed. Right-clicking on the menu headings on squad screens is also an experience I’d recommend trying.
The game even ships with two flavours of skin: the quite lovely white skin, immediately reminiscent of iTunes, and a dark version for those who play in the dark or don’t know how to set the brightness on their monitor properly.
A new tactical interface
Back in the summer, a storm was brewing. There were rumours that Football Manager 2010 would implement the dastardly ‘Tactical Theorems & Frameworks’ guide, forcing the evil will of tactical overlords ‘wwfan’ and ‘Millie’ on to innocent managers all over the world. But has their scheming come to fruition?
FM 2010 sees the implementation of a completely new interface for the tactics module. The sliders of ye olde FM games are still there, complete with some new options for influencing wide play, but the new interface allows managers to set their tactics based on actual football terminology. You answer a few simple questions, and the game sets the tactics sliders and options up for you, producing a balanced and realistic tactic.
If you want Totti to play as the Trequartista – you tell him exactly that; if Chris Morgan is to be your Limited Defender, so be it. It’s wonderfully intuitive, quick and easy to use, and the execution is sublime. It is a work of absolute genius.
As for the doomsayers, is the new module restrictive? No. The TT&F guide helped many people to a much better understanding of tactics in FM09 and was the starting point for the new interface, but the system has developed light years beyond it since then. Yes – it’s possible to make some very ‘TT&F’ style tactics; it’s also possible to make some that are not at all TT&F. Since I started using the ‘wizard’, I’ve not touched a slider once. Enough said, in my opinion!
The level of advice and feedback offered by the game is great too – the game will now even give an explanation to you what that Trequartista is… And if you don’t like the new system, you can easily convert to the old and carry on pretending to understand the sliders – everyone wins!
In tandem with the new tactics GUI are the in-game ‘shouts’ known as ‘Touchline Instructions’. With these, it’s possible to change tactics in-game and on the fly. If you want to ‘Play Wider’ it’s two clicks away. If that pacey opposition striker is causing mayhem, a quick ‘Drop Deeper’ may sort him out – dare you dabble in a little extra ‘Get Stuck In’ as well?
The shouts are often misunderstood though – all these are doing is applying some changes to the underlying slider settings, tweaking your existing tactical setup to fit the new instruction at the next opportunity. It’s a really elegant solution to something that has plagued recent FMs – it’s realistic to expect to have to tweak tactics all the time, but not all managers wanted the hassle. Now, no-one has any excuses not to tweak!
The Competition Editor
As a beta tester, I’ve spent a lot of time with the new editor, especially with regards to editing competitions – and for me, it’s the stand out feature of Football Manager 2010. It’s absolutely fantastic. A triumph. It’s also not in demo, and so I’m still under the non-disclosure agreement on this one. Trust me, I’m a doctor – you’ll love it. Love it.
I’ll write another article on the editor around about release time…
All of the above are new features – I’ve not even gotten started on the polish yet, and I think I’ve drivelled on lot enough. The press conferences have had a lot of work put into them, with a lot more variation than before. The new match engine is the best and most realistic yet. The transfer market has clearly been worked on.
There are a thousand things I could mention, but won’t – download the demo and see for yourself. Football Manager 2010 is a masterpiece – an absolute classic. If this was a review, it’d be a solid 95% from this writer.
|Written By Nik Reeves-McLaren
It's a Mod's Life author Nik Reeves-McLaren is a moderator in Coppell. His long-running blog tracks his experiences as a mod, as well as providing the latest information on changes in the FML universe.