Review: Football Manager 2011
Football Manager 2011 is here for all those football fanatics with a deep interest in the managerial side of things and with plenty of time to spare. Is it worth investing all of those hours into?
- Worth The Time?Yes, definitely to any well-versed football enthusiast.
- Things LovedThe extremely realistic feeling of being a manager, the massive amount of depth to the game, the slick and smooth interface, the complete freedom of choice, the match simulations, the level of interaction involved.
- Things HatedThe convoluted and busy menu screens that take a while to get used to navigating, the overwhelming feeling that all of the features bring, the fact that it's extremely time consuming.
- RecommendationFM 2011 is like a dream come true for football fanatics more interested in the managerial side of the game, and for that it gets an instant recommendation. It's worth considering that a huge amount of hours will need to be invested into this, so be prepared.
- Name: Football Manager 2011
- Genre: Sports Simulation
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: Online
- Platforms: PC, Mac, PSP, iOS
- Developer: Sports Interactive
- Publisher: Sega (Also available via Steam)
- Price: R367-399
- Reviewed On: PC
Football Manager 2011, at a basic level, is a football simulator designed to deliver a realistic experience on the role of being a manger. Be warned though, as the first and most important thing to know about Football Manger 2011 is that it’s anything but simple – it’s deeply complex. However, the experience that lies beneath the complexity is so fantastical and addictive that one could easily lose a truckload of hours of their life to it.
Initially, Football Manager 2011 can be very overwhelming, as there are just so many features and options that it can be difficult to know what to do first, even to someone that is knowledgeable about the sport. However, ultimately it will be the football fanatics who will soon become engrossed into the experience, while for those not as well-versed it would take a number of hours before they become comfortable with the system.
Things begin smoothly enough when firing up the game. You’re treated to a simple and nice menu that allows you to start a new game, load your save or join a network game. This screen is also where you’ll be able to check for updates, view matches you’ve played and edit options. You’ll get to change currencies, formats, display and sound – it’s all quite in-depth, as is the entire game, and having the patience and understanding, or ability to take the time to learn, will enable you to tweak many aspects to your exact liking. In the beginning one might find the options, features and menus to be convoluted, but the simplicity of the layouts will soon, or eventually, make things much easier as time goes by.
The game turns amazingly – dauntingly too – complex and time consuming almost immediately once you begin a new game. You’ll get to setup practically the entire path ahead, including choosing the nations you wish to participate in your world, customising your own profile as head coach and taking control of your favourite team and club. As head coach, your primary mission, of course, is to deal with everything you’d expect a manager to, which is to talk to your players directly as well as the media and board of governors for your club, respond to emails, keep up with the latest news, decide on how you want your team to play, organise matches like friendlies, transfer players, buy training grounds and property and work with coaches and staff members to keep your team in the game and better your club.
It’s unbelievably technical, and this is only the beginning of what the experience offers.
Football Manager 2011 is essentially a turn-based game, where you’ll attend to all your daily activities and advance through time by clicking the continue button. There are so many things to deal with on an every day basis, and the freedom available to you is very welcome, but it can make you feel lost within the early hours of the game. This game is one that requires a great amount of devotion and careful attention, but it would be something enjoyable to keep open in the background while you go about your real life daily activities.
Moving to the heart of the experience, ultimately the most exciting prospect is leading your team with the goal in mind to achieve great results. In order to do this, you’ll need to monitor players up for transfer, decide on the future of your own players, constantly oversee their morale, status and condition as well as put them through training to better their skills on the pitch. Just like in real life, injuries and international duty will put players out of action in the games ahead, and you’ll have to keep up with your emails to see how severe the injuries are and when your player will be able to return. It should be clear by now that Football Manager 2011 requires an enormous amount of reading, clicking, attention and time.
As mentioned earlier, you’ll be able to speak to all of your players directly, and all conversation in the game, including press and boardroom talks, are done through text-based chats where you’ll be asked a question, and will have to choose a response from the ones available, or where you’ll choose a topic that you personally wish to discuss from the options available and then select what you want to say. It’s great fun to get up in the media and spread the love you have for your team, or talk about matches after the results and either praise or downplay another manager, which will affect their attitudes and feelings towards you based on what you say. This is a good way to build friendships as well as create enemies and rivalries. You’re also free to seek advice from your players as well as request them to do things like coach potential youngsters from the junior teams, building the strength and value of your entire club.
At the beginning of the game, let’s say you’re waiting for the Barclay’s Premier League to start, it will be many months before it does, which allows you to slowly begin building up your reputation as a manager, become accustomed to how things work and prepare both yourself and your team for what lays ahead.
Before we get to everyone’s favourite part, the actual matches, there are dozens more technicalities and things to do both beforehand and during the process. For starters, you’ll be picking out your team and selecting substitutes, as well as sorting out your team’s formation on the field to the exact player and devising tactics for the team as a whole. If you’re not too clued up on this, or are lazy, you’re allowed to ask your assistants for help, such as by automatically arranging your team on the pitch, but this doesn’t always lead to effective results. Fortunately, each player has a small colourised circle and a letter (D, C, B, A, S etc) next to their name which shows their effectiveness in the position they’ve been placed in, and holding your mouse over the player will bring up a little text block that provides a one word rating, such as “incompetent” or “natural” depending on the player in the position in question.
It goes even deeper, believe it or not, and you’re able to assign penalty takers, corner kick and free kick takers as well as give roles to the individual player. Over and above this, preparation and training for the matches ahead sees you able to choose the level of work you want your team to put in through a slider bar that ranges from none to very high. Once selected, you’re free to choose which area of play to focus on and work at, such as team blend, defensive positioning, attacking movement and attacking and defensive set pieces. As you play matches, friendlies included, your teams stats are improved and morale and player condition is affected, as they win, lose, draw, become tired or pick up injuries, and this makes it a critical aspect of the game to always monitor your players.
The matches themselves are fully simulated games, and you’ll get to watch them being played out. You’re able to choose to watch the entire match or only key and highlighted moments, where everything in between is automatically fast forwarded. These options can be selected at any time during a match, in case you get bored of watching the entire game or want to watch more of the action. However, they’re awesome to watch, despite the comical graphics and slow pace, as they’re fully equipped with constant text-based commentary, crowd atmosphere and cheering and good animation. You’re allowed to pause the game at any time, to plan ahead, or rewind and forward through the game to re-watch moments in it, and it’s great to see your team in action with you as their leader.
Watching matches isn’t just for fun, however, as you have to become actively involved in the process. Your role as a manager is to plan ahead and choose your tactics, such as whether to take a defensive, balanced or offensive approach as well as issue instructions to your team during the match, like telling them to retain possession, take shots when they come, get the ball forward – there is a whole list of them. You’re only allowed to issue a certain amount of instructions at once before your new ones begin overwriting the old, thus changing the entire tactics of your team.
Furthermore, over and above all of that, you have a job to do before the match, during half-time and after. Before sees you analysing the match to come and structuring your team to be ready for your opponents. As a manager you’re also able to give your team as a whole, as well as the individual, pep talks and words of wisdom. For example, before a match you can wish your team luck and tell your star player that you have faith in his ability, or tell the team you expect a win and a performance out of the players. As half-time approaches, you’ll be focused on the game, and will be able to praise or express your disappointment at your players’ performances, while after the game you’ll also get to make comments as well as chat to the press about the opposing team and their manager. Your choices of words at these given times ultimately affects the morale of your players and approach they have to the game, so you’ll need to watch them in action and comment appropriately. Comments directed elsewhere will affect opinions of the media and other managers.
One might find the continuous rhythm of reading and watching and attending to a never-ending supply of technical matters tiresome, but this is in fact the very essence of the game, and it is after all a title that you’ll need to devote a great many hours to. It’s also a great thing to see your hard work pay off as your team puts away an admirable victory, while you’ll suffer bitter disappointment if they were to lose. This may not be the right game for those who just want a football-filled experience, but it certainly is for those in favour of the technicalities and managerial role – it’s a game for the tactical lone ranger. If anything, Football Manager 11 goes out its way to show you that a manager’s job is highly difficult, and there are good times as well as bad.
We’ve issued a great deal of praise Football Manager 11’s way, and it deserves it. Unfortunately, it does have its flaws, over and above its level of addiction, time consumption and its unwelcome arms to newcomers. Firstly, while the menu layouts are neat and organised, they can sometimes be a hectic irritation to navigate, because there are simply so many options and features practically everywhere. Navigating, mostly in the early hours, is hard and the guidelines don’t always help you to find what you’re looking for. Also, there is often so much that you have to attend to at any given time that you end up either neglecting other areas that require your attention or losing hours upon hours to the game, but only moving an inch forward in terms of progress. Of course this comes with the territory, and is to be expected, so you’ll need to manage your time really well. Fortunately, you’re able to save your game at any time, and able to load if you make a huge mistake. Aside from the range of issues already listed, there is nothing really that is majorly wrong with the title, and it really is a dream little game for the right player.
Drawing to a close, there are perhaps a huge amount of features and aspects to Football Manager 2011 that we have not mentioned, but this is because there really are too many, and the only way you’ll truly get to experience just what this game is about is if you dive into it and see for yourself. Mixed emotions will be flying everywhere in doing just that, as you’ll face becoming overwhelmed, challenged, irritated, excited, burdened, thoroughly entertained, immersed, addicted, thoughtful and hungry for victory and success, amongst many other things. In this, the game is unpredictable, as it is entirely based on how you play and do your job. This element of unpredictability is satisfactory in itself.
Football Manager 2011 is without a doubt incredibly deep and engaging. The realistic feeling surrounding the entire game and massive amount of features makes it exciting and great fun, but at the same time it can easily make it daunting and tiresome. It sometimes seems to test your patience and endurance to a high degree, but for the right candidate this is a realistic, impressively in-depth and near masterful simulation of the role of a manager of a football team.