Joys of Management
Football is not all about the beautiful game itself, and Sports Interactive have been exploiting this fact for many years. The real meat and draw of any Football Manager game is the managerial responsibilities and control. It may seem almost shocking or weird, but nothing is more satisfying than calculating a great new strategy or perfecting your 4-4-2. While the main excitement comes from the matches in which you’re plotting and planning is simulated, however, there is a lot of fun in the seemingly boring sides of the game.
As I mentioned earlier, it is important to note that FM and FM Live are two very separate games and this is apparent in the more managerial side. This isn’t to say that the latter is like a cheap cousin, but it does lack some of arm chair general (or manager) complexity that the single player games have. The usual suspects are here: squad selection and all of the tactical trappings, the transfer market, scouting, and so forth. The game just lacks a little something that made FM a series that would sap days of your life. There are other elements such as stadium enhancements, building youth academies, and in general being a little more financially involved, but these are more like side attractions and seem to have little value to a hardened FM fan.
The main three areas here where you will find yourself involved in are tactics, transfers and scouting. These three elements will see you succeed or fail within the game. Tactics are as beautifully intricate and delicate as with any FM game; sliders control your game mentality, team and technical instructions, as well as individual player orders. FM Live echoes the overall sentiment of the game that a player can tinker and fiddle as much with tactics as they like and this is a great thing. You can be a master tactician fielding an exotic formation with some very flamboyant playing styles or you can stick to a gritty 4-4-2 and still emerge victorious. The match engine is so excellent that a player, depending on skill level, can tell what their team lacks and can instantly try to make amends to this.
The other areas of scouting and transfers are also major gameplay elements. The need for bigger and better players is a major feature within any sports title. Scouting is something that can be trained and those who specialise in this area are rewarded with great finds and stars. The game has a system of player assessment also so a manager can tell whether or not their emerging 17 year-old striker is one to watch or simply a lazy-soon-to-be-unemployed-fool. The game is really as in-depth as you want to take it but it surely rewards those who fully immerse themselves in the experience.
The transfer market is well developed also with players given an almost auction house-come-eBay style system. Managers can place their unwanted squad members on the list for a certain amount with an auto-accept or reject clause and then the rest is up to the prospective customer. New players usually signed for small contracts and keeping well-performing players at your club isn’t particularly hard either. This is one element of the game however, that is difficult to get the most out of. Veterans with the most cash usually own the greatest stars and those at the bottom of the ladder are usually frantically gathering up whatever young talent is on offer. It is mixed but I suppose it does echo real-life footballing affairs.
Best of the Best
There are so many rankings and awards that it is hard to keep track of it all in FM Live. Your progression and boasting rights are not simply confined to the limitations of your league as players are usually categorized within rankings of bronze, silver, gold, platinum and elite. These serve for a good gauge for just how good your opponent is but also is a great measure for how your team is progressing. Of course within this are awards and also the ultimate title for the game world itself.
It is interesting to see how Sports Interactive have tackled MMO issues such as end game and the ranking system is a great way to structure further progression with other players. As football is all about being the best, FM Live captures this feeling and you will play not only to dominate your FA but also other players around you.
The only issue that I ran into with these systems is that of the games development itself. Football Manager Live has gone through various changes since its release and you cannot help but feel it will continue to do so. Certain game worlds have been reset and progressing through game rankings and the like could possibly be a wasted effort if the developers decide to implement something new.
Key to any great MMORPG is a community that is helpful, mature, and great to socialise with. FM Live fortunately has just that with players actively creating match content but also using the chat rooms available to simply chat or even help out rookies. Sport Interactive give some great socialising tools and managers can boast and taunt in-game as well as through friend’s lists, direct messages, and topic specific rooms.
The community is everything to a game like FM Live, the major draw is playing with others so it is great to see the developer cater at every available opportunity to this element of the game. Of course it is never great to be taunted when losing 5-1 to a team named ‘Dave FC’ but it’s always nice to do the same thing when the boot is on the other foot.
And to Conclude...
Football Manager Live has some great aspects of gameplay and certainly is a huge leap forward for the possibilities of sports MMOs. The only issue here is just how long a player can really keep coming back to this game on a week-by-week basis. The league system is as involving as the player decides and the only real concern here is that for the more hardcore FM players, it just doesn’t quite capture the single player experience.
If you are looking for a sports themed MMO look no further than FM Live. For a cheap subscription price and some enjoyable and entertaining management style gameplay, this is surely your best bet.
| As in-depth as you make it
Enhances existing FM addiction
Preserves the spirit of FM
| Doesn't feel entirely finished yet
Game worlds hard to enter mid-season
Possibly not hardcore enough for FM fans