Let’s get this out of the way right now, not everybody loves football management games. It could be because they don’t like Football in general or it could just be that people find them too fiddly, and I can understand why people would feel that way. As someone who plays football (when I’m not injured) and who has tried my hand at coaching and managing a side, I am one of those people who really quite enjoy the genre, and find it a perfect way for me to see if I can manage the egos of a top class football team (though I draw the line at trying to keep them away from ladies who aren’t their wives).
FIFA Manager 12 is the eleventh instalment of the FIFA Manager series and also happens to be the first time I have ever seen a FIFA Manager game running. Based in Cologne, the developers, Bright Future, have been working on the FIFA Manager series since 2007 and, since taking over the development reins, they have managed to produce a game that has gone down quite well with the critics. This year, FIFA Manager is looking to blow the competition out of the water with some brand new features and refinements of old ones. During a visit to EA’s offices last month, Producer Adrian Curry ran me through some of the new features for the game and talked over what I could look forward to getting out of this one…
The first thing that struck me is the quality of the presentation. In football management sims, I’m used to staring at the same dull menus – a massive issue for me in this genre as you’re usually just staring at a screen full of boxes and menus – but Bright Future have picked up on that and created some beautiful and intuitive menu screens. This was best shown off in the game’s 3D match engine, an enhanced and tweaked version of the previous FIFA engine that not only looks good, but provides minimal loading times in the transition from menus to game and certainly looks impressive.
The game plays out as if you were watching a game of FIFA but, at any time, you can make changes to your formations and tactics, differing from rival footy management sims by allowing you to make all of these decisions right there on the pitch, without having to trawl through lots of menus and sub menus. If you know that the opposition striker is dangerous and needs close attention, you can find the defender on the screen and check out his man marking stats while the game is still in full flow, and then instruct the defender to man-mark that target. As soon as you have made that man-marking call, you will see your defender attempt to get close to the striker, though unfortunately in our demonstration the opposition striker scored within seconds of being marked, but it just showed that it’s not a guaranteed way of always keeping your opponents from scoring. With defending as just one example I was shown, you can also make changes on the fly all across the pitch, instructing your midfielders to take more long shots and wingers to cross the ball more often, all while the game is unfolding in front of you, just like a real manager.
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