Football Manager 2009 is the latest incarnation of Sports Interactive and SEGA’s hit football management simulator, which had its roots in the now Eidos-owned Championship Manager series. In 2004, developers Sports Interactive split from publishers Eidos Interactive. While SI retained the rights to the database and source code, Eidos kept the Championship Manager name. This eventually led to SI teaming up with SEGA to publish SI’s “footy” managerial simulators under the Football Manager name.
The concept of a management simulation game is simple. Instead of directly controlling the players like in FIFA or Winning Eleven, players or “managers” as they are known in game, have to pick the team, choose the tactics and the match is then simulated between you and your opponent. While the match is being played, you can still change your tactics or substitute your players among other things.
What has set FM apart from their competitors like FIFA Manager and Premier Manager has been its focus on authenticity and realism. Football celebrities like Beckham and Ronaldinho are more likely to please the fans and rake in more merchandising income than players like Andy Johnson or Kenwyne Jones. In terms of realism, your players can get tired and injured easily, they sometimes hate the way you do your half-time or full-time team talks and usually wants to move to a “bigger, more prestigious” club.
FM 09 isn’t just a game that lets you pick the players, tactics and play the match; you’ll have to manage your players egos and ambitions, ensure they are training properly, interact and build relationships with the media and also hunt for that “special” player which just might transform your team from mid-table mediocrity to title challengers.
FM09 also features leagues from 51 different countries around the world. This allows players to manage the prestigious teams like Real Madrid and Manchester United, all the way till Malaysia’s Melaka FC and Singapore’s Balestier Khalsa.
There have been many changes since the last installment of FM. This includes a new 3D match engine, which now allows players to watch matches in 3D, pre and post-match press conferences which take media interaction a step further, as well as assistant manager feedback, where the player can receive feedback about his team’s performance while the match is being played.
There is also a multiplayer mode where players can play either using hot-seat play (users take turns managing their team on one computer) or over LAN/internet. This is however, one of FM09’s weaknesses. Multiplayer over LAN/internet still requires the player to type in an IP address to join into a network game. There is however a pay-to-play version of FM called FM Live, where it’ll probably appeal to the more social FM player.
There are also a number of bugs in the game. The 3D match engine is a little buggy. For example, players will occasionally look like walking crabs on the pitch as well as the occasional “floating” player. There are also occasional issues with the in-game news system.
While the game clearly caters to managerial sim fans, first-time players need not feel left out. There is a tutorial and online help system in the game where new players can learn the ropes of managing a football club. You can also choose from a number of default tactics or choose to create your own. Despite this, the myriad of options and drop-down menus might still feel intimidating and “wordy”. Gamers who are new to FM will probably need some time to get used to the somewhat complicated user interface.
FM and other manager simulators is really an “acquired taste”. Some will find it boring while others will probably spend a good part of their lives playing it. While it might seem intimidating to the first-time player, once you get into it, you’re hooked!
- Updated database of players and clubs
- More playable countries and leagues to choose from
- New 3D match engine
- Media interaction adds realism
- Weak multiplayer
- 3D match engine is buggy
- Steep learning curve
- Ridiculously addictive
- It’s another must-buy for managerial sim fans! Newbies though might want to try it out first…