The FIFA Manager series is wise enough to recognise that it can’t take on the more established Football Manager games with stats and number-crunching alone. Instead, it goes for a warmer, more personal approach, but gets it all a bit backwards. As a result, it’s possibly the surrealist game of the year. What we want to see in a ‘personal’ footy management game: players rocking up drunk on Boxing Day, or getting arrested outside a nightclub on an FA Cup weekend. Doubtless, though, all this fun would be at odds with the FIFA licence, so what we actually get is a watered-down attempt at allowing you to ‘live the life’ of a manager.
As such, you can do these really weird, inconsequential things, like go golfing with the chairman, or take up sailing. Another example: as prompted, we added our girlfriend (the reviewer’s personal one, not one shared by the office) into the game, only to find her continuously nagging us to take her out on dinner dates. Sorry? What’s that got to do with the price of cheese? Has the whole world gone insane?
Luckily, FIFA Manager 09 has more of a grip on reality on matchdays. The 3D engine is head and shoulders above the competition on a technical level and we love the real-time interface. You can either get an instant result, a text view, highlights or watch the match in its entirety – a wealth of options that ensure you have full control over the pace and flow of the game, which is more than can be said for Football Manager at times.
The problem with watching matches in full is that it brutally exposes how shallow and arbitrary the algothrims are, which can quickly dishearten the player from further investment. It works competently enough, but occasionally has a brainfreeze, such as the time we ‘masterminded’ a 0-2 reverse at Exeter, only to be gifted with a 6-0 win. Overall, it’s an interesting diversion from Football Manager, but that’s really all it is. It’s not an alternative. FIFA Manager 09 has depth, but it’s not always in the right places.
Dec 19, 2008