Football Manager Live - game review

Date: 2009-02-12 06:02:00
The review was based on the PC version.

Football Manager as an MMO - probably the dream of every fanatic of the series from Sports Interactive. Such an undertaking must have once seen the light of day. The key element of this type of projects is the online gameplay system. Yes, for several years in the traditional FM there is a network option that allows you to play in several people, but it is only a substitute for a game in which thousands of players are to lead teams and play matches between themselves. Besides, the traditional game system, implemented in a fully networked football manager, was out of the question. It was necessary to focus on freshness, innovation and completely original solutions. The producers from the SI Games studio took a different direction, towards advanced text managers available through browsers, using their own technology and a whole lot of innovative ideas. With quite a good result.

Football Manager Live is not free, so we start the fun by entering the name of our club and paying for the subscription. This is not excessive, because the average monthly cost is around eight pounds. By choosing a longer subscription, you will pay even less. Then we choose the game world (there can be a thousand subscribers in each maximum). At the moment you can choose from among seventeen, whose level of difficulty depends on the advancement of the players present in them, as well as typically football interests. Names and descriptions of worlds, such as Canton or Lineker, can help in making decisions. The choice is not final, because it is possible to transfer your own club at certain times. After this decision, we download a small game client, install and move to another dimension of football fun.

At the beginning, with the help of an intuitive assistant, the game guides us by the hand. We choose the colors of the team's outfits, set the dimensions of the turf and make the first purchases of players. This last step can be carried out in two ways - fully automatically or manually. In the first system selects the right players according to our nationality and favorite team. At the second we carry out all transfers ourselves. We have only 100,000 pounds at our disposal, which allows us to buy barely a dozen very average "diggers". Finally, the assistant helps in the selection of initial managerial skills and asks you to find the first rival with whom we will play a match.

At the first attempt to set up formation and tactics, many beginners can experience a small shock, because the number of tactical options available is very limited. This does not mean that SI Games was easy, because the whole range of settings is available (actually even extended with several innovations), but - only after some time. It was simply introduced a very controversial system of developing own skills, consisting in starting learning a single element and waiting for a certain period. This is not a well thought-out solution and a large number of managers give up such fun, although it is an important element of the game. Science requires a lot of sacrifice, and few players imagine getting up at four in the morning just to develop their virtual personality. You don't have to hang around the screen all the time, because it can take place even when you are logged out of the server, but it usually takes a really long time. For example, the ability to set individual pressing at the highest level in some cases requires up to several dozen days. And not only the tactics here, but also the training of players, physiotherapy, finance, club management, scouting and infrastructure.

In the game worlds, which are just beginning the first season, a full database of players with their original names is available. With the passage of time, footballers age, and in their place come young, generated by the system. The database is huge and each of the thousand managers will find the right players. However, buying them is a bit different than in the original FM , because we beat the offers of other players - something like the auction system. We have twenty-four hours from the moment the first offer was made to change the player's purchase amount. After this time, the player goes to the club that has offered the most. Similar rules apply to players without a club. The difference is that the manager who proposed the best (highest) contract wins. In addition, he must pay for coming alone. This 24-hour transfer system sometimes obliges us, as in the case of skills, to get up at night at a certain time in order to check whether the transfer has been successful.

At the beginning of the game, we have no chance to buy class players, so you have to work a lot to have solid players in your team. This is obviously due to financial considerations. Only after some time, when we reach the higher league or manage to win several tournaments with cash prizes, we can afford players from a slightly higher shelf. At the end of the first season, the whole transfer roulette is moving for good and world-class stars find their first teams. Players can also be borrowed and invited for twenty-four-hour tests, but with some restrictions. One of the most important is that most games have a limit of two, three players participating in the match and bound by such an agreement.

Contracts with players are signed for one or two seasons. After the end of the contract, the players are automatically put on the transfer list. You can partially protect yourself by blocking departure and forcing a new contract to be signed with up to five players. This allows you to keep important people in the composition and continue playing. Searching for the next ones is a bit difficult, as talent seekers have been given up. Unfortunately, you have to learn how to search players manually, using filters. Knowledge about positions and their impact on attributes is more than required. The abovementioned skill system also affects search results. Thanks to their development, our insight into the database is increasing.

Players develop as standard as in the original FM. Our managerial skills have the greatest impact on the increase of attributes. The rest of the factors are the result of match form, current morale and unknown elements that addictive work. It may come as a surprise to opt out of training options, but it seems that the complexity of the whole game would be too high. We will also not find physiotherapists and doctors - this is not a loss. Anyway, there is little injury here, much less than, for example, in FM 2009. Outside the pitch, players are leading perfectly, sometimes only complaining about small things.

Getting money to grow your team is a heavy piece of bread. Initially, we carry out all investments very slowly. Daily revenues are just enough for footballers' wages. Saving is therefore a priority because it is easy to go bankrupt. We don't earn coconuts by trading players. So there remains a good team game, and thus correspondingly higher revenues from tickets and ads. As soon as the first money is paid for television rights, we can spread our wings, even by expanding the stadium. In general, the entire financial system is sensibly modified and very extensive. Suffice it to say that one should be familiar with tax mechanisms and inflation in the game world.

In every game world the Union of FML Football Association rules the whole thing. She watches over individual football federations (FA) and organizes the highest-ranking games. To participate in basic competitions, you must become a member of one of ten federations. Each of them is characterized by the frequency and actual times of the matches. All FAs play in the qualifying league during the first season. Depending on the result achieved there, we are seeded in the right leagues. In addition, there are league cups, federations and the transitive world cup. It would seem that a similar system can be boring, but nothing more wrong. This is due to the simple fact of the difficulty level, which is high. Advancing to the higher league in the first season is a demanding task. Keeping the team level is also not easy. Players are constantly learning our behavior and are familiar with tactical complexities. In addition, many are doing great on the transfer market.

In addition to leagues, you can create your own cups, leagues and combinations of both. The range is very wide, including options such as refereeing or maximum team pitch dimensions. There is no limit to the number of teams that can participate. The most important element of this type of competition is the opportunity to win money. By joining one of them, we pay the entry fee and end up in the appropriate position, we collect the previously determined percentage of the main prize. Thanks to such tournaments, Football Manager Live is significantly gaining in playability, and we have money for investments and transfers.

The season in FML lasts an actual month. Depending on the federation chosen, the number of league matches should not exceed three per day. We are not limited by the schedule and there is an option to play games before the final date. Sometimes it happens that - when we are unable to sit at a specific time - the opponent will be entitled to play within twenty-four hours. Our team is then run by a game system. It also happens that both managers are busy. In this case, the machine plays the meeting itself. This solution makes the game run very smoothly, without any delay. However, sometimes a duel with artificial intelligence can be terribly frustrating. Like AI uses the current setting of the formation and tactics of the opponent, but can use our mistakes, and thus - we extremely often lose such matches.

Playing games is a great pleasure and the essence of the whole game. There are no restrictions on the number of matches in one day. The players' condition is renewed after each confrontation. You need to find a rival to play the game. One way is to challenge individual managers. Another is to automatically search for a match player at a given moment; it usually takes a few minutes (depending on the number of logged in). Before the start of the meeting, each manager has five minutes to select players and set tactics and formation. Matches are shown in 2D and can be played at three speeds according to players' preferences. It's impossible to watch the whole meeting, but without it you can also quite well predict the behavior on the pitch and correct the settings. We also have no influence on players' match morale. During the game, we make changes on a regular basis, without unnecessary entering into intricate menus. But if we need a little more time, the Timeout option comes in handy. A huge plus is the very intuitive, almost instant access to every important match action. All you have to do is click on the timeline to view the missed goal opportunity again. It seems that the game engine is slightly improved compared to FM 2009 and most irritating errors have been eliminated, such as the excessive number of goals scored from long distance shots.

The game client does not contain any databases or sounds. Everything is implemented by exchanging information with servers. As a result, our computer doesn't count anything, and the FML requirements are rather small. The download speed depends on latency. With a solid internet connection, the comfort of navigating through menus is excellent, much better than in the original FM. There are no problems with servers, and their stability is very good, even when half a thousand people are logged in. If maintenance or system upgrades are to take place, each customer is informed many times and it is impossible to miss such a message.

The strength of Football Manager Live is the community through which this game during the beta tests turned into a very playable product. Were it not for the fanatics who strongly discussed in the lobby and forum about certain solutions, Sports Interactive would have big problems tuning some elements. It is worth mentioning that in the game itself without problems will reach out to us a helping hand, not only moderators, but also ordinary players who patiently explain complex nuances every day.

This game cannot be fully understood. There is so much to do here that you can't be bored. One day we will play dozens of matches, the other we will look for the right striker, the third we will discover the transfer and match lobby. And what after a month or two? The game will become our new addiction, taking every spare moment. Football Manager Live has a bright future. Thanks to community support, the game will certainly be led in the right direction.

I do not recommend this game to newcomers (although it is targeted at them) and I encourage you to try die-hard fans, who will find fantastic playability there, lost every year by the traditional Football Manager.

Maciej "maciek_ssi" Bajorek