Despite much of the game being toned down from FM’s wealth of features, one side-feature that remains virtually untouched is the tactical screen, which comes replete with the usual list of hugely comprehensive options.
After setting your formation and choosing your starting line-up, you can then tweak the finer details of your master plan, with an abundance of both Team and Individual Player instructions.
But what about the actual matches? Well, you’ll be pleased to know that these are already looking more than a little impressive. Akin to watching a game in FM07 in Highlights mode, FML’s games typically last somewhere between five and ten minutes. You and your opponent are first given five minutes to submit a teamsheet to the ref, after which you watch the action unfold on the traditional top-down 2D match engine.
You and your opposite number can then make changes at any time, but with only a one-minute timeout allowed per team (during which the action is paused so that you can make your changes), most of your tactical tinkerings must be made on-the-fly. However, far from being a hindrance, this mercilessly low number of pauses makes games feel far more realistic, by forcing you to think fast about where and how to make changes, just like in real life.
With the final whistle blown and congratulations passed between yourself and your opponent, it’s time to head off to the rankings screen to see how your result has impacted on your world standings. This is pretty important, because with higher-ranked teams earning more money, it’s imperative to climb that ladder as fast as you can if you’re to stand any chance of competing on a financial level with the top teams.
“You have a World Ranking which is based on points gained over a period of time, but the system to calculate those points is incredibly complicated,” says Jacobson. “This is because we need balance for the different ways that people will play the game, so we can offset the bias for the people who can be online longer and therefore play more matches than anyone else. Players can play as many games as they want each day, but they’ll find that they start getting a lot less ranking points for each win if they play too many.”