Title: Football Manager 2018
Available On: PC, Mac, Linux
Played On: PC
Developer: Sports Interactive
Genre: Sports Simulation, Management
Official Site: https://www.footballmanager.com/games/football-manager-2018
Release Date: November 10, 2017
Where to Buy it: Steam
Reviewing a game like Football Manager 2018 is a daunting prospect – there is just so much, and so much of it is randomized, or tailored to a certain style, or locked to specific types of teams, that just wrapping your brain around all that’s available can be quite the challenge. That said, I’ve been enjoying each edition of the series for the last five years, and I feel that this is the biggest leap forward in that time, both from an accessibility standpoint and the addition of some game-changing features.
Football Manager 2018, for the uninitiated, is a game where you take on the role of head coach of a football (that’s soccer, for the Yankees out there) squad and lead them to greatness. You can conceivably take control of any real-world team out there: European powerhouses like Manchester United or Barcelona are available, as well as professional teams from dozens of countries around the glove. Where it really gets interesting is on the lower level teams. Lead a minor league African team to glory, or take your favorite local British team to the heights of the Premier League through savvy signings and expert tactics. There is an insane level of detail mixed with the world of Football Manager 2018, and it can be easy to get overwhelmed.
The difference between a game like Football Manager 2018 and Madden 2018 is that you do not actually control your players during the matches. You are literally just a coach, signing players and coaches, making tactical maneuvers, and subbing out players. That said, this is not a game for everyone. Those who revel in the detail-oriented micromanagement of something like this have a well-oiled machine to work with here, and I personally feel like this is the best version of the game I have played in the years I have been enjoying the franchise.
One of the biggest challenges in yearly sports games is making enough impactful changes so that it doesn’t just seem like a roster update, but not so many changes that it still rewards those who have played before. Football Manager 2018 has made a dramatic change in the way the game is played through their much-touted “dynamics” system. In past iterations, you generally had to balance out your superstars’ playing time in order to keep them happy. The dynamics system adds a ton of new wrinkles to keeping your squad happy and performing at a top level. Players will naturally sort into a social hierarchy, grouping up by things like skill level, languages spoken, and seniority at the club. A less talented player could be extremely influential in the locker room – you will need to find games for him to start or possibly start to see declining performances from members of his social circle. This makes the management level seem even more realistic, as anyone who follows sports closely knows that a disgruntled locker room can mean the fall of a program.
This is especially true of a sport like soccer, which is probably more superstar driven than any other professional sport out there. Just like in real life, taking on the challenge of a rich, superstar-filled club like Bayern Munich or Real Madrid gives you little room for error; players will turn on you quickly if you do not know what you’re doing, and management will act swiftly to find a coach who Cristiano Ronaldo will play nice with.
There are other updates and improvements to Football Manager 2018 that make it a worthwhile purchase, especially if you have sat out a season or two from the franchise. The in-match graphics, while still not perfect, look pretty good for what they need to be. Certain systems feel much more interactive, like sports medicine and scouting. In general, the game seems to have been optimized a bit: it is much easier to find things and direct yourself to important places, rather than alt+tabbing out and finding an answer online. Overall, this is probably the slickest iteration in the franchise I have ever played.
That said, there are still some issues. In-match animations can still be infuriating, as players occasionally behave in outrageous ways to watch. The coaching AI when outside of games makes some very questionable decisions, and it can be pretty easy to outsmart them in the long run. Players still tend to get injured much more often than they do in real life as well, unless I’m just total rubbish in sports science side of things (which is entirely possible). None of these things take away much from the experience, but it would be nice if Football Manager 2018 was able to exactly mirror the beautiful game like it is trying to.
That said, Football Manager 2018 does a remarkable job in simulating the tension, heartbreak, and triumph of being a high stakes manager. If the premise sounds even remotely like something you would enjoy, I would give it a shot. Prepare to lose many hours of your life.
Verdict: It is not perfect, but this is probably the best version of the game we have seen in years. A ridiculous level of realism can be found here, down to the smallest details. Finally prove that you really can be a better coach than those guys who are paid millions. Just watch out for pulled hamstrings.
- Dynamics system is a great addition
- Tons of details
- Not for everyone
- So many injuries