Football Manager 2010 • Page 2

Champ or chump?

As an example, take a look at the incredible diversity of each manager's approach to press conferences in the real world, with surly pensioner Ferguson glowering at the first sign of a challenging question, Rafa shoehorning the words, "We have confidence" into every sentence and Mourinho proclaiming himself to be divine. While the successful execution of this might be a design conundrum, if either SI or Beautiful Game Studios can crack it, they could potentially take the management genre to another level.

If we're being honest, FM2009's debuting 3D match engine was a bit of a letdown. After so many years of hankering for the series' unparalleled match realism to be complemented by lifelike player models and stadiums, the result was underwhelming. Thankfully, Sports Interactive has taken this criticism onboard as this year's match engine contains a number of key improvements and quality additions.

Around a hundred new player animations make for a more pleasing viewing experience, with games looking even more lifelike than ever before, though a smattering of bugs and glitches, most notably the action occasionally jamming for protracted periods, do slightly sully your enjoyment. Goalkeepers have been transformed from cumbersome to athletic, now leaping for shots with far more believability. At times, matches look so realistic you almost forget they're not the real thing, and while the animated crowds may look a little crude, they do at least add an extra layer of atmosphere to proceedings. And for any purists amongst you, fear not, the 2D match view remains an option.

3
Issue tactical instructions from the touchline.

Perhaps the most striking addition to the match action is the new touchline command system with which you can bellow orders at your players without ever exiting the pitch view. A simple drop-down menu allows you to quickly and easily tweak your strategy. Should you find your goal besieged you can order your men to sit deeper to deal with the threat, or if they're failing in the final third, make tweaks to your attack tactics that you can often see coming to fruition in-front of your eyes.

While Football Manager 2010 is certainly more stable and less bug-ridden than its processor, some problems are present, such as minor contradictions from your backroom staff or your players throwing their toys out of their designer prams unless they're lavished with praise on a regular basis. Let's hope the inevitable post-release patch will eradicate these minor foibles.

4
The game's layout is far cleaner and easier to navigate than last year.

In many ways, FM2010 feels like the game FM2009 should have been. Its revamped navigational system is a triumph, while additions such as the match analysis tool and touchline orders are both welcome and adeptly executed. But as has been the case over recent years, you can't help but feel that once again the series has failed to introduce enough major gameplay shake-ups, a fact exacerbated by the impressive leaps made this year by Championship Manager 2010, which took the risk of attempting something new in the scouting, training and set-piece departments and for the most part, succeeded.

Make no mistake, Football Manager 2010 is the best football management game on the market by some stretch, a game of unrivalled realism, depth and longevity, and the most accessible FM game we've seen for many years. For these reasons it just about scrapes a 9, just like Championship Manager 2010 scraped an 8. If you held off buying FM2009 then I wholeheartedly recommend you go out and buy this. However, while the series remains top dog, the gap between it and its nearest rival is most certainly narrowing.

9 /10

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Martin Korda

Martin Korda

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