Jos? Mourinho watch out, here comes Joe Bloggs to take your place…
Ever been watching the footie and thought to yourself ‘I could do a better job than that guy’? Do you know the perfect premier football dream team and the best places to scout for new talent? Do you have the ideal formation and the killer tactic up your sleeve? Well now you can be an armchair football manager from chair around, be at home, on a plane, train or even in the car (although I highly recommend not attempting to play and drive at the same time)
As you might expect, being the portable version, the game is slightly lacking compared to its Mac, PC and Xbox 360 counterparts. The interface is quite simple to navigate, although it can feel clunky at first given the lack of a mouse pointer, but you quickly the hang of zooming around the various options.
Firing up the game for the first time, you are required to enter some personal details and then choose your initial team to manage from a list of almost every European team, from almost every club level there is. Most people might naturally gravitate toward the major teams like Chelsea or Arsenal or the like, but bear in mind that with great power comes great responsibility. Choosing a very high profile team will provide you with a rank of excellent players and sizeable budget, but the expectations of your team’s fans and the board will be equally as high. Similarly choosing a lesser known team will only provide you with a modest level of talent and money, but the expectations of your performance will be on a par with your resources. Also there are many people who would get a greater sense of achievement from bringing a more obscure team into the limelight.
After initialising all the teams, setting up fixtures and so on, you are presented with your ‘Home’ page and the game begins. The home page is where you’ll be spending most of your time and from there you can access all the other functions available, from player assignments, team tactics, scouting, transfers, upcoming and recent fixtures as well the news section that’ll provide all your communication with the board, coaches, players and fans.
As the team manager you are responsible for every aspect of the team’s performance, but you have a team of coaches to help you on every front. For instance, you have to balance keeping your players happy and paying them accordingly with keeping your finances under budget and allowing funds for new player transfers as well. You can also opt for help from your staff in most areas including scouting for new talent, player selection and training programs; or can take control of all these yourself.
As mentioned earlier the interface is fairly simple, although it is crammed with numbers and it can take some time in getting your head around the various statistics if you’re new to the genre, it doesn’t take too long before you get to grips with the variety of figures all over the place, and the turn based structure of the game helps give you all the time you need when making decisions about your team.
Matches are equally as straightforward, once a match begins you are presented with a simple text based commentary of the game, along with a coloured slider bar reflecting possession on the ball. You can pause the match at any time to make team adjustments, as well as adjust the speed of the match-play if you desire.
Given the nature of the game the graphics are very simple and very easy on the eyes, with a good layout making it easier to absorb the information packed into the screen. Similarly there is sound on/off option that controls the single solitary sound the game has; a small tick noise generated tapping any of the buttons.
As you can imagine, whilst the premise of the game is fairly simple, the gameplay itself has almost limitless depth as you can build your reputation and that of your team almost indefinitely, as well as attempt to change teams at any time, based on availability and your standing in the football world. Needless to say if fast paced high adrenaline action, immersive graphics and surround sound are what you’re looking for then Football Manager is not what you’re looking for, but if football is your passion and you’re looking for a steady paced game with lots of depth and feeling of complete control, then you should definitely check it out.