Introducing a new game into a football manager series is a fine art. The game must offer enough change to be worth an upgrade for those familiar with the series, and it must maintain enough complexity to be interesting to them. But likewise it needs to be simple enough to embrace newcomers to allow them to join in the journey. Football Manager has often struggled to entice new blood because of the intricate level of detail that would take hours upon hours to master. In this latest title, developers Sports Interactive have taken great steps to achieve every aim, producing a title that feels polished, looks fantastic and appeals to a wide audience.
The list of updates and refinements on paper looks to be lacking in the area of a real and dramatic improvement to the Football Manager series, however it is the many small changes that work together to create an entirely excellent managing experience. Fans of the series might actually wonder what has changed for the first couple of hours, aside from some polishing in terms of graphics. But it won’t be too long before the new additions start to make themselves known.
Take the all new navigation system for example. For many years games within this series were equipped with a handy sidebar, but this has been removed to be replaced by an assortment of tabs covering everything from scouting to tactics. This will take some time to get your head around, but once used to it you will find the controls to be far more intuitive and helpful. This, combined with the completely new addition to Football Manager 2010 of a Tactics Creator, opens the door to the uninitiated by making the game entirely more playable to those that have never attempted to get to grips with the complex series before.
The ability to shout commands to your players from the sidelines is another useful skill that provides instant tactical response. And if you’re feeling lost and overwhelmed at any point, your assistant manager will always be ready by your ear with a word or two as to how things are progressing. Don’t be concerned that these new features will take anything away from the overall experience of the game however. Instead of quashing the complexity that places the Football Manager series ahead of its rivals, they have simply created a way to harness it for a more enjoyable playing experience.
Football Manager 2010 isn’t going to blow last year’s title out of the water. Its additions are more subtle, producing an overall experience that is sleeker and more enjoyable to the masses. The nuts and bolts of the series have not been removed, merely polished to function more effectively, meaning that nothing is taken away from the level of detail and realism that distinguishes this particular series in a highly competitive market.