Name: Football Manager 2018
Developer: Sports Interactive
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Reviewed on: PC
Acquired: A copy of this game was provided from publisher for review purpose
I would guess I am the biggest football-nerd at Ulvespill, and as such I was handed this year’s edition of Football Manager. As many others I think I can be the new Sir Alex Ferguson, if I only had the chance, and I realise that FM is the closest thing I’ll ever get. The game series has been known for their extremely realistic approach towards the managerial world. It has been known for not changing up too much between each installment, let’s take a look into how FM18 stacks up to its predecessors.
I sat down with the game and, as usual, picked my beloved Stabæk (yes, the former club of Bob Bradley, for you americans out there). The game still looks like itself, with the same messages in your inbox when you first arrive at a club, such as the assistant manager telling you about the strength and weaknesses of your squad, and the chairman welcoming you to the club.
This year’s game focuses a lot on the social aspect of being in charge of a squad, with players being arranged in a hierarchy of social status. Early on in my career I got a taste of the importance of talking with the players, as I dropped one of the higher-status players from the starting eleven without telling him beforehand. Immediately several other players turned on me and demanded he got a second chance. Luckily I was able to convince the player to work harder in training to reclaim his place and avoided a major fall out with my squad.
The game also features the same feel of urgency to get results to avoid getting fired as before, with either the chairman or fans complaining if you get into a losing streak. Before every season you are asked what the main goal this year should be, and setting the aim higher gives you more money, but also makes it easier for the chairman to sack you if you don’t reach those goals.
If you have played Football Manager before you will find the game to be mostly the same as before, however the social aspect of the game now makes it actually important to have conversations with the players, which allows for a deeper connection with each and every one of them.
The match engine has gotten a major overhaul. The series has taken a step out of the nineties and into the early 2010’s. But that is fine by me, I don’t need the match to look like FIFA or PES as this is just a minor part of the game. I was really surprised by how much better the stadiums has gotten since last time I played a Football Manager game. The textures for the players too, have gotten an overhaul, and each player looks more unique than they have before. The players still run really weird, and the keepers seems to be able to fly sometimes. Other than that though, the graphics have evolved nicely.
The gameplay revolves mainly around the tactics, social hierarchy and inbox-screens. The gameplay is very similar to what we know from before, but this too has been slowly but surely evolving.
In the tactics screen you have more options than ever before, with a remade system that is quite easy to get into. One problem I had however was with the set-pieces screen, as I found the menu systems to be a bit clumsily set up. Once I was able to wrap my head around it though it is easier to tweak any little thing you want.
The inbox now features a social media screen, with rumours and opinions from fans taking most of the space. The mail inbox itself seems unchanged from before, with anything from journalists to your own Director of Football asking you questions or telling you about things going on in the the footballing world.
The scouting system too has been completely revamped, with the initial reports being very Tinder-like, you get a short introduction about the player and then say yes or no to scout him further. I’m not sure if I really like this new way of scouting or not, I still haven’t totally understood what to look for to decide if it’s worth scouting a player or not, and I knew the old system almost by heart. However, according to several forum users the new system is actually a lot better once you get the hang of it, but that it does take a lot of effort to master it.
One major issue I have with the game though is the number of bugs. I only found one bug that actually crashes the game, with a player getting a red card when he is supposed to be substituted, causing the game to claim you’ve used that substitute and crashing if you try to use all three substitutions during that game.
All in all though, the gameplay follows the same safe path it has before, but it is broadening its horizon and becomes more and more complete for each year.
The game doesn’t really feature any controlling at all, I mean, yes you do control the interface with the mouse, but it’s basically working in any other computer programme. This makes sure there isn’t any way for the controls not to work though. Therefore I will not give any score.
I haven’t tried replaying the game so far, but I would assume it would work really well. There’s always some other tactical aspect to try and build your team on. You can play a save with just one team, or you can change team ever so often. You can make your own challenges, such as “only use homegrown players”. Or you can play just as a national coach. If you can imagine a way to play the game, it’s almost certain it is possible.
Football Manager 2018 still follows the same formula we know by now, but it is slowly evolving. It is by far the most complete managerial game out there, and its superiority is well earned. I do get why some players want the series to have a bit more of a shake up though, because it is very similar each year, and this game is no different. The game still has lots of bugs in it though, and although I only found one game-crashing, I wish the developers could look more into playtesting and fixing those small, but annoying bugs and glitches.
A step forward
A couch-managers big dream
The social aspect works much better than before
A bit repetitive gameplay
Replay Value: 9/10
Total Score: 8/10