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Football Manager 2018 review: New features add more complexity but enhance game

Football Manager 2018 will be released on November 10, and while the gameplay is hardly different from FM 2017, the game remains a must-purchase for any addicted Football Manager player or general fans of the sport.

I’ve been playing Football Manager and its predecessor Championship Manager for almost two decades going back to when I had to purchase copies abroad and bring them to the United States to get the full game. In the era when the brand was known as “Worldwide Soccer Manager” in the US, my friends and I would defiantly refer to the game as Football Manager.

In recent years, I’ve alternated between the full game and Football Manager Mobile, a slimmed down version which can be played on iOS and Android devices and FM Touch, a game designed for mobile devices which is somewhere in-between the two. The full game for PC’s will be the focus of this review.

Last year’s game, FM 2017 was highlighted by the addition of a possible “hard Brexit” if you played with an English or Scottish club. This feature created lots of new challenges for FM players as it potentially will for clubs. Those EU nationals who don’t apply for a work permit based on international appearances cannot be signed to English and Scottish clubs. While this may not sound like a big deal on the surface, once you are playing the game and scouting the continent particularly for youth players, it becomes very problematic and challenging. This year’s major change is reportedly the addition of players coming out as homosexual. This only applies to computer generated players, which only populate the game after a few seasons of matchplay.

I decided to begin playing a career with Watford, the classic Football Manager club who has enjoyed a long-term sponsor relationship with franchise. As of this writing I’m not that far along in the game because as experienced Football Manager players know, the most time-consuming and labor intensive period of the game is when you first take over a club. But here are some observations based on the initiation of my new game.

Football Manager’s interface is always complicated and this year is no exception. More tactical options are available in-match and scouting is more detailed and extensive than in FM 17. The most interesting enhanced aspect for me is the Medical Center. For years, I’ve found FM’s injuries to be somewhat random and arbitrary. Sure those injury prone players like Darron Gibson or Arjen Robben have this attribute reflected in the game, but why is it that very randomly Gareth Barry or David Villa would get injured in my games and spend lots of time on the shelf when neither is a particularly injury-prone player? The new feature shows lots of promise and seems to be a way to design a training regime for each player that prevents basic knocks or serious injuries from fitness for players of Barry or Villa’s advanced age. At the level I generally play with, this feature is particularly valuable and it allows even more specialized and tailored training.

Another enhanced feature appears to be something where members of a team can form cliques and factions within the dressing room. In the past I’ve always been cognizant of the “favored person” feature in tandem with “morale” to designate which player to make captain or in other cases which players are trouble makers. In the new game, it appears whole factions can become a problem for a manager and these factions can also demand a style of play, either more pragmatic or more open on the manager. This feature it appears could also form cliques based on nationality or other factors I haven’t encountered yet, but it is sure to add another layer and challenge to even the most seasoned and successful player of Football Manager.

The presentation, as it has for years in FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer, is more TV broadcast like. This gives the player more of a modern video game feel but for me is somehow less FM and feels more FIFA. But still, the graphics are excellent as are the cutaways and stadium views.

There are certainly some people who would say the added layers to Football Manager 2018 make the game more complicated than ever. This isn’t untrue, yet those who have made this franchise what it is, the FM obsessed segment of soccer fans globally demand new features every year and more intense and potentially addictive managerial functions.

The game is once again a must-have this year, but isn’t it always? Football Manager remains the serious soccer gamers life currency and this season is no different.

Football Manager 2018 is available on Amazon, Steam and all major software sellers.

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