Video games, they say, lead to social problems. The debate is still raging about cause and effect, and the influence of violent games, but in one area the issues are plain to see. Football management sims CAN damage your health. And your relationships.
They can also damage your education. I know of at least three students who destroyed their copy of Championship Manager to save their degrees; they realised they were addicted when one came home unexpectedly and discovered a housemate giving a press conference in the living room …
In a rivalry similar to that of PES and Fifa, a publishing debate saw Championship Manager spawn Football Manager and instant competition for the fan dollars. Like the PES and Fifa rivalry, both CM and FM have their passionate supporters, although FM has generally been seen as the “purists” game. Unsurprisingly, this latest incarnation is business as usual, an addictive game of incredible depth and detail – or a tedious exercise in the pointlessly anal, depending on your viewpoint and, possibly, gender.
It’s not a particularly attractive game, however. If you want surface sheen and the beautiful game to look like a beautiful game, then Fifa or PES are your options. If you think the beauty is in the details though – the statistics, the back-room politics, the wheeling and dealing of young players, the massaging of player egos, the incessant tweaking of tactics and squads – then Football Manager is probably already in your collection.
Compared to previous incarnations, FM2010 nudges rather than pushes the envelope. The 3D engine for the simulated matches is a visual improvement on 2009’s, but it’s still rather buggy, with annoying lag an inevitability in, apparently, every match. However, the “traditional” 2D view is still an option, and smoother than before.
The other major addition is a “touchline command system” which allows changes of team tactics or instructions to individual players during the game. It’s a great, realistic device that can pay instant results or, of course, see your team spanked out of sight in a matter of minutes. The rest of the interface is also appealing and instinctive to use, whether you’re a seasoned FM player, a newbie or, ahem, only recently coming back to the series after the threat of divorce.
After the disappointment of FM2009, FM2010 is a step in the right direction. Unless you had social plans between now and next July, that is.