Football Manager 2018 Review
Football Manager – a game most Steam users see in the top 10 charts and wonder why this spreadsheet simulator is taking a valuable spot on the popular game charts. Well, this game is more than just a game for those that play it; it’s a way of life. I have been a fan of this series of games since 2003, back when it was known as Championship Manager. Fast forward 13 years later and Football Manager is probably my second most played game of all time, losing only to World of Warcraft. Both of these games were cocaine to me as a teenager.
Following FIFA’s example of a yearly release model, Football Manager 2018 releases on November 10, 2017 on PC. Anyone who purchased the game before its release also got early access to the game through the beta program. This is the version I based my review on, so issues and topics raised are subject to change within the near future.
Let’s get it out there right away. If you aren’t a fan of football – yes, that’s right, I said FOOTBALL, not soccer – then you are not the target audience for this game, and with all due respect, a lot of the features and mechanics in this game will go straight over your head.
Football Manager doesn’t have a structured story mode like the new FIFA does, but you do build worlds unique to each game you play. As you start the game, you are faced with a Sims-like character creation screen. You are then required to create your manager’s personal appearance. This was introduced in last year’s edition of FM, and this year’s edition comes with some improvements, but this feature still needs some work as your manager can end up looking like a downright abomination. You can also superimpose your own face onto the character model, which does actually render a representation of you, but ultimately this feature can really be skipped over as you very rarely get to see your character in game anyway.
Once that’s done, you take over management of a football club, looking after the day to day duties that a manager would take care of in the real world. This can include arranging training sessions, devising tactics, scouting new players, submitting bids for transfers, renewing contracts, or anything football related, really. Football Manager is an extremely in-depth simulation of a real-world management job.
Dynamics is one of the bigger introductions to the game. This new feature will show you how your team of players is gelling together, and what sort of relationships and social groups are forming within. You’ll get a good indication of your team’s morale and might also get a feel for some troublesome figures within the dressing room. You’ll also be able to identify the highly influential players within your squad.
Dynamics goes beyond that, however, and contains multiple sub categories, such as Match Cohesion, Dressing Room Atmosphere and Managerial Support.
Match Cohesion relates to the basic understanding between your team of players; having a high cohesion rating may result in your players gaining bonus stats when playing together. Dressing Room Atmosphere can affect morale – your team’s performance on the pitch, or how you, the manager are acting in front of the media can have both negatives and positive effects on the atmosphere of your squad.
Managerial Support is, well, how much support you have as the manager from your squad. If they like how you are running the team, they will go to the ends of the earth and back for you. But if you are losing matches every week, and slating players in the media, the dressing room will soon turn on you and you will be headed for the unemployment line at the job centre.
I really like the Dynamics feature, as it adds a new level of depth to the already complex management, and gives you greater insight into how your squad is feeling.
If you follow the football world (and if you have got this far into the review I will assume you do) then it will be common knowledge that the money in the football industry is now at an all time high, with transfer fees for players easily reaching the £90+ million mark (US$118 million). Players wages are phenomenal, and everything is becoming blockbuster in the world of finance. Football Manager 18 introduces Football Intelligence, which is the most realistic transfer market that reflects the inflated transfer and contract fees we are seeing in the real world. This can lead to some crazy transfers that you might, at first, think impossible, but that’s the glory of FM18 – anything can happen.
The last of the new key features is a revamp of the scouting system. In previous editions, the scouting features were not really improved a lot year on year, as it was sufficient and did its job. FM18 has changed the system up a bit. Initially I thought the revamp was for the worse. It felt like a huge time sink; every couple of days I would get a pile of scout reports on my desk to go through, always with players that were either nowhere near good enough for my team, else way out of my reach.
However in the new system you can easily assign scouts to find certain types of players, either through a short-term search, or a longer term search. If you want to find a new striker for your team during the transfer window, using the short-term search to find players will improve your team immediately, and your entire scout team will work non-stop to bring you those glorious reports. The longer term searches are for recruiting younger talent out in the world, with growing potential. Now that I have gotten used to the new system I feel like it is much better than previous editions of FM. It was just the teething-in that initially put me off.
Football Manager has been getting yearly improvements to the 3D match engine, and 2018 is no exception; in fact, it’s the best- looking one yet. We are nowhere near the levels of FIFA, but this is just about as good as you need, with improved player and stadium models, lighting effects and animations. FM 2018 also includes a new camera view, which can also be zoomed in and out whenever you want
Although my overall thoughts on FM18 are mostly positive, I feel that game has changed direction when it comes to difficulty. Now I am going to come across as a complete scrub and whinner here, but before this game I considered myself pretty good at FM. Having put in over 3000 hours across just the last couple of years, I have gained a huge amount of skill and experience. I have taken teams from the lowest divisions in their countries to winning the Champions League. I knew what I was doing.
Football Manager 2018 was different though. The beta came out around two weeks ago. It took me 3 days to get my first-ever victory as a manager in this edition. Not 3 in-game days, mind – 3 actual days. Granted, I was only playing for a few hours every night, but it felt like the tactics, match engine and players were all out to get me. That’s not to say it’s a huge negative, because I enjoy the challenge that FM offers, and it’s a challenge that I am looking forward to conquering over the upcoming year.
For me, Football Manager is always going to be my go-to game when I need to escape the real world for a few hours and just immerse myself in the world of football. I will one day return Derby County to its former glory as a European Champion, no matter how many thousands of hours it may take me.
Football fanatics will adore any edition of Football Manager – being the latest release chock-full of new features while still keeping what made the previous games great, there is no better place to start learning than here.
- Improved AI to represent a more realistic transfer market
- Team dynamics feature
- Thousands of hours worth of gameplay
- Improved match engine graphics
- High learning curve