It’s the player animations that see the best improvement though, with loads of extra movements and actions added for the 2011 iteration. The 3D match engine has previous been somewhat limited in scope, with the range of actions available to players proving quite restrictive. In FM 2011 though we have seen players back heeling, lunging into sliding tackles, performing tricks to get past defenders and generally looking a whole lot less wooden than before.
Goal celebrations have also received a major update, and there are loads of new ones to look out for that add more character to your players and matches. We challenge you not to grin when your striker bags a beauty of a goal and proceeds to box the corner flag in the style of Tim Cahill.
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As well as matches looking better on the pitch, they’re also easier to manage off the pitch. While the level of tactical control is unchanged from FM 2010, it is now all consolidated into one place and you can manage free kicks, throw ins and so on from a single UI. Needless to say this is much easier than having to set player’s roles individually and presents a much clearer visualisation of what’s going to happen on the pitch. Unlike Championship Manager’s set-piece creator, FM 2011’s is fairly straightforward, with none of the endless tweaking required by its second tier competitor.
Although we’ve only talked about the new features in FM 2011, it’s the experience of the game as a whole that’s most important and FM 2011 remains as life-destroyingly addictive and compulsive as ever. While the idea of a football management sim driven by pages of stats may sound ridiculous to conventional gamers used to polygons, headshots and power slides, it’s hard to describe how involved you can become when playing Football Manager.
Despite the 3D engine, FM 2011 can still look dull - so here's a picture of an explosion
Winning can be an elation, losing a misery. Signing a new player can bring hope, which can be dashed when he’s injured on his debut. It’s the reason following real football is so interesting; the hundreds of different stories going on inside the league at once, from triumph to travesty.
Football Manager 2011 does a better job than ever of simulating those highs and lows in a world that is highly entertaining, and remarkably easy to understand. Even if you’re only a casual footie fan, FM 2011 is approachable, addictive and deeply rewarding. If you’re a fan of the series already, then this is easily the best Football Manager yet and is an essential upgrade over last year’s game.