FIFA Manager 10 PC DVD
Published by: EA Sports
Developed by: Bright Future
The FIFA Manager series didn't have the best of starts but over the last couple of years it has been making progress and last year's FIFA Manager 09 was certainly an enjoyable game that pleased most football fans who wanted more of a game rather than a simulation. FIFA Manager 09 wasn't a big improvement on FIFA Manager 08 however, but it did just enough to make it a worthwhile purchase. In theory at least, FIFA Manager 10 looks as though it's set to propel the series to even greater heights. A significant number of improvements to the game have been made and it even includes an online mode. However, the end result isn't quite what I would have hoped for and the game doesn't feel much different from last year's game. That said, it's far more customisable than any of the previous games in the series.
Unlike Football Manager 2010 or Championship Manager 2010, FIFA Manager 10 gives you a lot more to do than simply managing your team. You can opt to do everything from picking the team to setting the price of the club merchandise. Want to be a player-manager? Well in FIFA Manager 10 you can. You can even take direct control over one of your players and play in the match. However you shouldn't expect this to play like a game of FIFA 10 because sadly, it's all rather basic and taking control of a player is something I choose to avoid as a result of this. You can create your own club if you choose. There's an astonishing amount of leagues available to manage here and international management is on offer too. You can even redesign your stadium if you choose, in either a simplistic or fairly complicated manner. It should be emphasised however that in no way could you deem this to be a simulation but as a result it's more accessible and forgiving. In its favour then, the game is highly customisable and you can adjust the difficulty of many elements of the game and hand as much of it as you want over to the AI.
Many aspects of the game have received minor adjustments in this year's game. In total there are said to be over 400 improvements although I prefer to call them adjustments because not all of them are improvements. The interface has been reworked and now allows you to display widgets which show a variety of information. In theory this seems like a good idea but when you have all of the available widgets open, it's all too cluttered and makes the screen far too busy. Another so called improvement is the ability to turn off the virtual personal life (which allowed you to date, learn a language and improve your golfing and sailing skills amongst other things). Personally I always felt this was out of place in the game and it's good that you can now disable it but being able to turn something off isn't really an improvement. The game also allows you to create a virtual 3D representation of yourself which you'll see during a match. It's a totally pointless addition and thankfully has no bearing on the experience (aside from the fact that you're going to see the same animations over and over again); at least this feature can be disabled. Manager shouts is a new feature that allows you to bellow your orders during the course of a match. It's a nice idea but one that hasn't been implemented too well. Simply being able to shout "Shoot!" or "Hoof it!" to your players doesn't really add to your tactical options and you never get a sense that it's something worth bothering with.
The standout new feature is the free to play online mode that will allow up to eight players to compete against each other in one of over forty different divisions. It's possible to get through a season in under four hours meaning the matches come thick and fast and it never feels like a drawn out experience, which is certainly good news for those of us who don't have masses of free time to dedicate to the game. The bad news is that the reason you're speeding through a season so quickly is because you're getting an extremely stripped down version of FIFA Manager 10 in the online mode. Matches are text commentary only, player stats have been simplified and the bulk of what you can do in the single-player game has been removed. To a certain extent this is understandable as you only have a short amount of time between matches but it's disappointing to find the online mode is practically a much more basic experience that's bears little relation to the single-player game.
The game has a level of presentation the other football management games can't compete with. There are official licences galore, virtual versions of many newspapers and official club kits and logos too. There can be no doubt that FIFA Manager 10 has the best looking 3D match engine. It's not just in the quality of the graphics either where the game beats its rivals. The player animations are definitely a notch above what you'll find in either Football Manager 2010 or Championship Manager 2010. The bad news however is that the 3D matches just don't play out in even a semi-realistic fashion and in this respect the game lags behind the latest Championship Manager and is nowhere near Football Manager 2010. It can be really demoralizing watching your wingers do a superb long pass to your full backs when they could have easily crossed to your forwards. Too many times you'll see players go on mazy runs in the wrong direction. It's all very disheartening and completely ruins any illusion of watching a "real" football match. Of course you can always fall back on the text commentary and this is definitely a quicker way of playing through a season.
FIFA Manger 10 is no better or worse for deaf gamers than any of the other recent games in the series. Match commentary isn't subtitled but it's so repetitive and so out of sync with the action at times that this is certainly far from being a problem. Should you not want to watch the rather disappointing 3D matches you can opt to read the text commentary. The text commentary won't cause any problems for deaf gamers. The quality of the text commentary is quite good and kind of feels like you're following the match by viewing a football website style commentary. Of course if you're playing an online game you'll have no choice but to use the text commentary. In every other sense however, the game is fine for deaf gamers with all information being shown visually.
FIFA Manager 10 does improve on FIFA Manager 09 but it's not as big an improvement as I would have liked to have seen. I don't feel the single-player game has moved forward much at all, despite the alterations that have been made. The game is more customisable than ever, which is a good thing. There are still problems that need sorting out such as the unrealistic nature of the transfer system and the 3D match engine still doesn't play a realistic game of football. The new interface can feel extremely cluttered when displaying all of the possible widgets, and is desperately in need of streamlining. Yes it's good to see an online mode included and what's here works decently enough but it's such a stripped down version of the single player game that I can't see many persevering with it once the novelty has worn off. FIFA Manager 10 should please fans of the FIFA Manager series but essentially this year's game is a little disappointing by virtue of not being a big enough improvement on FIFA Manager 09.