Director of Football
by Empire Interactive
Football management games are a difficult genre to enter. The benchmark for the last ten years has been Championship Manager and it has proved difficult to challenge the game. Over the years some game designers realised the difficulty of the challenge and decided to adopt a different approach. Games such as Ultimate Soccer Manager, Fifa Soccer Manager and The F.A. Premier League Manager introduced the player to a more complete kind of management game. Director of Football also takes this approach and puts you in charge as much or as little as you want.
From the moment you begin the game you instantly find out that realism is not going to be a key feature of the game. Indeed the manual states this fact when it says that 'Director of Football tends to take a romantic view of football.' You have to pick one of twelve rather shady looking portraits to resemble you in the game. You have to pick the amount of cash you start with, the difficulty of the game and the average strength of your team. At the default values the game is difficult as your side is far weaker than any other in your division and you must build up your team to have a chance. Should you alter one of the initial settings to make the game easier you will find the game ridiculously easy and very unsatisfying.
The game (as we alluded to earlier) allows you to control everything about a football club. Such tasks include training players, organising sponsorship deals, arranging club trips etc. Should this sound horrible to you, a collection of support staff can be hired and the tasks you don't like given to them. In fact you can allocate all tasks to the advisors and that includes picking the team and purchasing players so therefore you will be doing nothing except casting your eyes over the progress. One thing you will notice here, is that there are only a handful of support staff in the game and no matter which team you manage you will always have the same staff to choose from.
As we have said the default options allow for a tough challenge and bringing in new players is a must. When you try to sign a player you will come across the worst part of the game. Heart-Line chose to eschew reality when it came to the transfer system and in its place they put a very silly auction system where by you and the other teams who have put bids in, get to make quick fire bids in order to secure a player's service. It just doesn't work at all. I attempted to buy a player on a free transfer and my offer to the player was £700,000 a year for two seasons, the player refused my offer for a lower division team and £250,000 a year for three seasons.
When you come to match day you hardly believe it when you see that the graphics are identical to the original FIFA (1994) game on the PC. You will also be surprised to see the players tap there chests and beam off (star trek style) the pitch in the event of being substituted. The crazy thing is though is that the matches are not too bad to watch and the player AI doesn't seem half as bad as in other titles. The game actually has some fresh ideas such as giving you the option to give an injured player (who is not far off recovered) a pain killer so he can play, as well as the option to motivate your team before and during the match.
The interface does nothing to endear you to the game and will take a while to get used to (you can use hotkeys for the different screens although the manual doesn't mention this). Everything is tooltipped so for your first few games you have follow the tooltips and commit the interface to memory. The game is perfectly suitable for deaf gamers with all information in text and no speech is used at all.
The really silly thing about this game is that for all its faults it is very playable. Don't make the mistake and think it's a Championship Manager contender, because it isn't, but think of it as 'Football Manager Tycoon' or 'Theme Football Manager' and you would probably conjure up a mental picture of the game that wasn't too far from the truth.
Overall Game Rating: 6.3/10 An OK football game but if you want realism you'll be disappointed.
Quality of text: 10/10 Everything is in text.
Graphics: 4/10 Out of date by about 7 years.
Interface: 4/10 Initially the interface takes a lot of wrestling with.
Gameplay:7/10 Underneath all the floors lies a game which although not realistic is very playable but it's a shame the transfer system is such a mess.