Reviews

Football Manager 2019 Touch – Becoming the Gaffer

"Every football supporter I know has their opinions on how a football team should be run, what to do with their current players, best formations, attacks, when substitutions should be made, who should cut inside, why Kante is being played out of position in the 2018/19 season. The football management genre is one that lives and dies by how influential you can be on these factors."

One of my passions has been football from the first time Daddy Luda took me to a Bristol City match. The sound, the smell, the ability to swear in a song without getting told off by my parents. But then came my first passion of my own choosing; video games. Cutting a long story short, the two became quickly intertwined and, one of the two most addictive football franchises that I have ever played, in my opinion was introduced… The Football Manager Series.

I have watched, over the years, grown men become infatuated with this in-depth look into the football world – hell, I have even seen mates of mine send CVs to football clubs based upon their career history on Football Manager in an attempt to get that vacant manager job. Having been separated from the franchise for a large period of time I was eager to fall in love with the game all over again.

This review will be written regarding the Touch Edition which is advertised as a faster, lighter, more streamlined version. But does it live up to the expectations, especially now it’s been ported onto the Switch?

Football Manager 2019 touch boasts a whole host of changes for the 18/19 season, including three specific updates this returning player was very happy to see.

This release we see work done with a Training overhaul, freshened UI, which for me is always a good thing to keep the game moving, but I will elaborate more on that later. The addition of the much discussed VAR with Match Improvements. A refresh to the New Manager Induction, which was a huge relief for me. Bundesliga Partnership and Sports Interactive’s Revamped Tactic Module.

FM2

Pre-Season Hopes & Dreams

When returning to a game after an extended absence, I’m always worried how easy it’s going to be. There is an anticipation; will this destroy my fond childhood memories of this classic?

Upon opening the game, it was great to see three game options and a starting menu with some nostalgia and familiarity about it, with Career mode, build your own team and, for a further challenge, a group of pre-determined scenarios for you to pit your wits and managerial prowess.

As in past years, I hit career mode and looked for a team that I had an affinity with IRL. In the Vanarama National League South – I will take you, Weston Super Mare FC, to the Premiership and beyond.

As a returning player, I have a fair amount of understanding of the game and a general know-how of the mechanics. I am also making an assumption that anyone drawn to reading this article has a knowledge of football and vidya games, therefore I don’t need to write a huge description of what this game is. My experience leads me to think that you’re here because you the reader knows what you are getting yourself into with this game.

Mid-Season Blues

Much like your favourite football team you follow, you have an understanding of the players and, no matter how much the team changes in the summer, there is a familiarity about this game that make you feel like it’s your home, your club.

The Manager, may have changed and your new favourite player is the exciting newly signed Spanish right back. Football manager brings these similar feelings. I loved the new Manager Induction; although a new revamp, it highlights all the changes and brings you into the game at a pace you can understand, allowing you time to get your head into what’s new and how it works.

The new tactics page is amazing; very in-depth and offers great flexibility to add existing tactics or to create brand new formations/tactics of your own. The reason this falls into mid-season blues is that, due to its depth, it will incur the following conversation with your partner:

“Are you coming to bed?”
“Yes darling, just finishing this bit here.”

It’s 2am you’re sleeping on the couch….

Three game modes offer the variation, if you fancy a break from career mode and are equally offering a different dive into football management. I definitely think is a win.

fm1

Promotion

What the game offers is a deep, deep dive into all aspects of the football managerial world. And in that, it does deliver. There are so many things that you can change and adjusting the tactics section now verges on overwhelming, but I think it’s very important to highlight that, as overwhelming as it feels, it’s great to be able to have the ability to tinker.

Having messed around with aspects of the tactics and the way the team is built, I was so happy to find that the default settings for all of these can be returned quickly. The default tactics are actually useful and provide a great way to jump start you to that Champions League final. A lot of these standard options, I feel, are going to be heavily utilised and it’s a great way to play the game for those that literally want to dip their toes in.

I love the new updates. Everything added is improved upon from years gone by, and the I found the in-play shots to be really great for highlighting the important parts of the match, like sticking the ball in the old onion sack, or the aggressive elbow from nowhere one of my players produced in the pre-season friendly.

As alluded to earlier, the UI as a whole is great. This, coupled with the tutorial is, for me,  one of the biggest improvements and, although clunky (Switch controls I feel is the root cause here), it does become second-nature. That ZR button is your friend.

One of the big points for me is that the game does provide all that nostalgia of the older titles. The addictive nature of classic Football Manager is 100% still there to the point I’m currently managing to sink more hours in than I have available to me.

Relegation

Football is all about ups and downs and I think the emotional attachment to games can sometimes lead to harsh critique of games, throw a passionate supporter in the mix and you’re going get the cold face opinion.

Now, that said, this game is a conversion and first attempt port onto 2018’s massively popular console, Nintendo Switch, so there has to be some balance here.

For me the initial feel is clunky and actually I got a bit frustrated with the amount of work it took to get me into the actual physical game; to actually arrange my team and play a match came about a lot longer than I originally thought it would. Unlike some of the play, as a selected team football games on the market that chuck you into the game straight away to get you hooked, this felt like a mission. Customising my manager, team name, tactics; I felt was quite heavy and lead to a couple of cups of tea. Probably more to do with the lack of Qwerty pad than the game, but still part of the overall experience. To the football nerds amongst us; I can understand that you want the customisability, but it left me a little less enthused.

I love the thought of having access to this on a device or on the Switch, but one of the issues is that there is a whole lot of information to squeeze on to such a small screen and I missed a lot when I wasn’t playing on a monitor. My main critique is it is a step to far which, I am currently sitting on the fence for, probably more to do with the fact I have such a passion for the beautiful game.

FM3

Title Winning Team

The overall feeling of the game left me feeling a bit like the Champions League Final 16. Every year you get the same old faces with a few surprises in the mix. Football Manager the franchise is much like a Barcelona or Real Madrid of years gone by, in that it has all the big hitters and you can pretty much guarantee that the following years they ‘will be in amongst it’, but with the teams they have it can become stale and boring to always see them win.

The FM franchise still doesn’t really have much competition in this world due to the fact it’s a very niche game, produced in a very solid manner.  It’s one of life’s constants, if football continues to have the following around the world, this game will continue to producing a high level experience for the niche audience it attracts.

Verdict:

Graphics: 6
Presentation: 6
Sound: 4
Gameplay: 7


Overall Score: 6/10

 

Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PC (Windows, Mac OS, Linux)
Initial release date: 2 November 2018
Price: £39.99 (UK eShop)
Publisher: Sega
Developer: Sports Interactive
Genre: Sports / Management Sim

 

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