If football is the nation’s favourite game then Football Manager must surely be its favourite video game. Despite EA and Eidos rolling out their offerings each year in the form of FIFA Manager and Championship Manager respectively, the phenomenal popularity of Sports Interactive’s Football Manager is amazing, the 2009 version having occupied a spot in the top ten PC games for the full twelve months since its release.
Now it’s time for SI to unveil its latest signing, in the form of Football Manager 2010. For all the promise of new features and improvements, it's hard to immediately spot that many differences between this year’s and last year’s FM. Could it be that a serious case of laurel resting has crept in alongside the millions of sales? Let’s find out.
Firing up FM2010 for the first time, it’s impossible to miss the redesigned interface, with the familiar side menu of previous versions dropped to the bench in favour of new tab based navigation, with a healthy dose of drop-down menus for the more detailed options. Unlike Championship Manager 2010 though, which also delivered a rebuilt UI only to bury players in complex drop-down menus, FM2010 strikes a good balance between tabs to switch between information and menus to access more complex options such as player or club search.
Click to enlarge - There's a redesigned, cleaner interface
The revised interface hasn’t messed around too much where it counts though, with player information exactly as you’d want it. Player cards detail current attributes, season statistics, value, wages and a visual indicator of the player’s abilities all visible at a glance – more than enough to get an idea if someone’s worth signing. More information is available from clearly labelled tabs, with coach reports and an easy player comparison particularly useful when deciding who to cut or whether to sign that Spanish midfielder with the name you can’t pronounce.
Click to enlarge - All the useful player info is available at a glance
The interface alterations are felt in the manager inbox too – your primary source of in game info. While all the important comings and goings of the club, such as upcoming games, press conferences and transfers are all still here, transfer rumours have been shifted off to a “news” page, similar to CM2010’s “back page” feature. Here, news from across the football world is displayed (although it’s all kept relevant to your team,) keeping transfer news that might not necessarily be relevant out of your inbox while keeping you in the loop.