FIFA Manager 08 PC DVD
Published by: EA Sports
Developed by: Bright Future
Release Date: Out Now
If you’re a fan of football management games you’ll know that there are only three games to consider this year. There is Football Manager 2008, which is about as realistic and as deep as a football management game can currently be. Then there is Championship Manager 2008 which, in many ways seems like a pale imitation of the Football Manager titles. Finally there is FIFA Manager 08. FIFA Manager 08 doesn’t attempt to be as realistic as Football Manager 2008. What it does instead is to not only let you manage your team but also gives you the ability to control every aspect of your club whether that’s sorting out the advertising boards or designing a new stadium.
It’s worth pointing out that if you find games such as Football Manager 2008 a little overwhelming with its complexity then FIFA Manager 08 could be a better choice. That's not to say the game is simplistic as there are so many things you can do in FIFA Manager 08 it’s rather mind boggling; however much of what there is to do is optional and you can control as much or as little as you want to. You can choose to simply manage, be the manager and director of football, be the manager and chief executive or have hardly any responsibilities at all. The game is more focused on allowing you to tailor the difficulty of the game (in regards to things such as player negotiations, player morale and merchandise sales) to suit yourself rather than simply thrusting you into a realistic experience. This is a double-edged sword of course and those who are after realism might be disappointed that the game doesn’t play out in a very realistic way but in terms of being accessible, FIFA Manager 08 is the more approachable of the three football management games on offer this year.
At first glance it appears as though little has changed from last year’s game but first impressions turn out to be false as you spend more time with the game. Training, tactics and the general interactions with your players are all more satisfactory in FIFA Manager 08. Controlling player morale and fostering a good team spirit is more important than ever and keeping good relationships with your players can definitely reap rewards on the pitch. There are over forty countries that you can manage in and the game even models youth team development quite well. If you want to get involved with duties that are normally part of a manager’s role you can redesign your stadium and even sell off the naming rights to your stadium to bring in some extra cash. You can build extra facilities and improve those you already have to give your club a greater chance of success.
As in last year’s game you get the chance to develop the personality of your manager. When you create your manager you can either have them as married or single. You can even have children if you wish. In his private time the manager can play golf or go sailing etc. You can choose whether to seek a spouse or not and whether to have children. The idea of having to develop your manager’s personal life is an interesting concept but it’s still not been fleshed out properly. If the developers really want to push this side of the game they should make more effort to make it interesting. As it stands it seems like a needless distraction. At least the option to learn a language does make sense as you have more chance of moving to a foreign country to manage if you speak the lingo. You can choose to be best buddies with players you have managed and you even have your own buddy list.
Whilst FIFA Manager 08 is the best FIFA Manager game to date, there are some problems with the game that really need to be sorted out. The interface is definitely better than last year’s game but it still requires too much menu navigation. Without any useful hotkeys you are forced to use the mouse in order to interact with the game and it’s a little tiresome. The match engine still isn’t good enough. Don’t get me wrong the 3D match engine is better than in last year’s game but it’s still not good enough. Graphically, it looks good enough but you have to put up with loading times if you decide to use the 3D match engine. If you don’t want to watch the 3D match you have a choice of text commentary that doesn’t provide enough details or an instant result, which is very unsatisfactory. The crazy thing is that the developers have a decent 2D match engine that is part of the MAT (Match Analysis Tool) but you can only view this to analyse matches after they’ve taken place. I hope next year they'll let you use the 2D match engine to watch the games unfold. Should you choose to control a player during a match you’ll still find it’s not a pleasing experience. Most will probably try it once and then not bother doing it again.
Deaf gamers won’t have any problems with FIFA Manager 08. Virtually all of the game’s information is shown either textually or through the use of icons. There is match commentary if you watch the games in 3D. The commentary is not subtitled but this isn’t a problem. The game could certainly have done with a tutorial to brief you on how to make the most out of the game’s many menus and screens. The game manual really doesn’t go into enough detail and it will take at least an hour or so before you’re comfortable with the game.
The last two FIFA Manager games have been tough to recommend. Whilst they showed promise they had too many niggles. FIFA Manager 08 does have some similar problems to its predecessors but it’s definitely a more satisfying experience. Those hoping for a game that mirrors real-life football may be disappointed but those who are looking for a football management game that allows you to have total control over your club (it even gives you the ability to create your own club) and over the game’s complexity level will be pleased with what FIFA Manager 08 has to offer. Let’s hope that next year’s game shows the same rate of improvement that FIFA Manager 08 has.