Annual franchises tend to come with a certain shadow of doubt. Each November soccer simulation gamers have one with the yearly release of Football Manager, the always-popular manager simulation from the Sports Interactive.
Getting past these doubts can be difficult. However, the game is nothing but great. Annual franchises sometimes like to indulge in their success and not produce enough new content for a new version, a problem that Football Manager has had in the past. Take Football Manager 2017, for example. With FM 2018 the situation is different. FM 2017 was a great game that guaranteed every user to feel like Jose Mourinho even if they only tried to bring Fleetwood Town F.C. to glory. Unfortunately, it didn’t have a lot of new content when compared to FM 2016. Football Manager 2018 brings with itself different improvements that can significantly influence your career or the single games.
Football Manager 2018 does not bring many major new features, but there’s enough meat to stay invested. The most striking feature is the new Dynamics of the team. You will be able to learn much more about your team, starting from the team’s hierarchy, or player’s groups to create better harmony within the squad to achieve the best results. In addition, you can also interact with players. You also have the option for an in-depth look at their satisfaction with the team.
The game also comes with a new scouting system. It claims to be more similar to a real-world situation. A full understanding of the system and its efficiency can be done only with long-term testing. You can see right away that the scouting has pulled in a lot of small changes that may leave you caught off guard. However, after a first period you will find it much more realistic.
Other minor improvements include a new match center, better sports science, and a new look for the fantasy draft. The tactics screen has also been modified.
Game presentation improves by little by little each year. Recently, the devs allocated many resources to try and get more visualization and less numbers. The trend is continuing with the 2018 installment. The user-interface is smoother than ever. The home page has been improved to require less clicks. In the left bar, you have quick access to everything you need from your team’s dashboard to transfers to requests to your boards.
The real-time conversations are smooth and responsive even on older systems. The game in its vanilla version doesn’t come with a lot of logos, faces, or even kits. However, installing third-party mods is straightforward with the Steam Workshop or you can import stuff from FM 17.
The 3D visualization hasn’t changed much. A few more animations were added and the game flows a bit smoother. Don’t expect much difference from the Football Manager 17 experience in this regard. Users who prefer playing with less bells and whistles or have an older system may keep on using the legacy 2D view.A fresh take if you’re accustomed to graphics-heavy sports simulators like FIFA or PES.
The 3D game isn’t a bad feat, but there are a few glitches left over from last year’s game. For example, having Cristiano Ronaldo or other world-class players getting all alone in front of the goalie… and missing the shot by 30 feet. Of course, it can happen in reality, but once. If you start getting stuff like this game in and game out, it can be annoying. With the 2D view, all this is mitigated and the less detailed but somewhat more realistic visualization makes for an overall better experience. Especially, if you are more of an old-school gamer.
The overall gameplay is the best part of any Football Manager game. And Football Manager 2018 scores big. You have a lot of control over your team. Furthermore, nearly every option is quickly accessible. You’ll have more options while playing for a top club, like increased attention from the press or the fans, but off-the-pitch situations will occur at any level.
The core gameplay remains consistent with previous titles. You will need good players and good dynamics within your team. You will need to win mind games against other managers. Ultimately, you will need to pick the right tactic and tailor it to your team. Players will have lots of advice during the process, so you won’t be alone if you are new to the game. If you are new, you should just pick up one of the top teams as Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Paris SG or Manchester United and try to mimic real life. Vice versa, if you are a solid player already, you shouldn’t have many problems in playing with another team or starting your next LLM challenge.
The tactics engine hasn’t changed much since FM 2017. Fortunately, the engine is very solid. The players listen to your orders and usually try to accomplish the game plan. There will always be the crazy horse who wants to do it all by himself, but that just adds realism to the engine. With that said, the screen is actually different. You’ll have at your disposal two panels, one for the tactics and the other for players. In the player panels you will be able to change the players role and instructions. You can also have a briefing before a game where you will be able to give players further instructions and gauge their reactions.
One of the biggest complaints with Football Manager has always been the transfer system. The market is very active and the scouting system allows you to go all-out and ask your assistant to automatically buy the most promising players from smaller teams. Selling players also underwent improvements, however, the offered sums are still probably a bit on the low side in many cases. Even if it should be taken into consideration that if you’re desperate to sell a player the offers will consequently and realistically be lower.
We started the review asking if it made sense to purchase this year’s game just 12 months after the release of Football Manager 17. The reply is a solid “yes”. While it’s true that there are no major features added to the game, the new dynamics, a more realistic scouting system and a plethora of small touches make the game worth the investment. Even if you own Football Manager 17.
Football Manager 18 is a strong step forward and guarantees even more realism and control over your team.
Want to talk sports and/or games with the fastest growing community in gaming? Join the conversation by registering at the official Sports Gamers Online Forums, and check out our Twitter and Facebook pages.