Football Manager 2022 Review

Football Manager is a fairly conservative series (which, however, is traditional for many sports simulators). Sports Interactive studio , like its counterpart EA Sports , releases a new game every year, so every fall fans, squinting and armed with loops, look for minimal differences between the previous part and the current one. For fans of football and strategy, Football Manager has become not only a blessing, but also a curse: since the series has practically no competitors, its creators have no significant incentive to develop the product and raise the bar for quality. Therefore, people who have given hundreds, if not thousands of hours to the franchise, are forced to constantly face the same problems that do not change from year to year. Or they change, but they are getting better very slowly.

Football Manager 2022 reacts lazily to the football trends of recent years, but, unfortunately, does not add anything new to the usual annual cycle. So the dilemma between buying a new item and installing a fresh fan patch on an old version of the game remains the same.

In motion – a semblance of life

One way or another, the new part is always new expectations, especially since Football Manager 2021 was received with enthusiasm by critics. Then it seemed that some kind of life was re-emerging in the series after many years of inactivity, although in practice the innovations were scanty. There was an opportunity to talk to an agent before buying a player, an xG system that calculates the team’s chances to score a goal, gesture animations in dialogues – in general, sparse. Against this background, Football Manager 22 wanted to see more ambitious experiments – well, or at least a revised tactics balance system and slightly less scary faces of football players. In the end, I wondered if Sports Interactive would take a bigger risk than last year or hit the brakes.

The introduction of xG last year did not cause serious protests from even the most skeptical players, so the authors decided to develop the mechanics further. From now on, the manager has a whole analytical department at his disposal: his employees analyze the team’s matches and draw up graphs that clearly show why you have scored three goals and scored only one (or vice versa). Moreover, you can even contact the analytics center right during the match in order to see how deservedly your team wins or loses between halves. Coaches of the national teams, however, are deprived of such pleasure.

The text accompanying gestures and movements is sometimes read as a manual for communication with earthlings, written by reptilians from Nibiru

Access to in-depth analytics in the main football-analytical game of the year certainly pleases, but in fact, all this information is not really needed. Any player with minimal experience and no graphs will perfectly understand whose xG is better: just keep track of the progress of the match and the number of chances. Statistics add a bit of realism, but in fact they just state the obvious. At the same time, pass charts and data on player movement areas really help to better understand who is dropping out of the game. In my case with Manchester United, everything was even more like life: Anthony Martial and Donnie van de Beck are bad, Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo are doing magic. Although to figure out why certain players perform poorly, in any case, you will have to do it yourself. The problem lies either in the lack of professionalism of the player, or in the wrong tactics – most often in the second. Therefore, the essence of the analysis still boils down to the ingenious conclusion “the circuit must be changed.”

The main sections of the menu are devoted to the main information about the team, plus there are separate dies about the players, past matches and the future rival. Illustrative but no frills

Also, the studio has improved the engine responsible for the graphic simulation of matches – the most mystical component of the game. The curvature of the animations and graphics of Football Manager has long been a local meme, as have the annual promises of the authors to fix the situation. To be fair, this time some qualitative changes are really noticeable. Football players stop more realistically and change course, perform well Cruyff’s feintand a back heel pass, the ricochet after hitting the ball looks more believable. The problem with numerous one-on-one exits, where the attacker cannot punch the goalkeeper over and over again, seems to be a thing of the past. At the same time, skillful dribblers in the attack still stupidly run past the defenders, and sometimes literally seep through them (it is assumed that the player dodged them). Crossing is too easy, and trying to tackle the ball is like a date between two shy puppets. Of course, I have enough imagination not to pay attention to such moments, but for 2021 the game looks clumsy – especially considering the annoying promises of developers to fix the visualization.

Some moments of the matches look graceful, while others – frankly ridiculous, even in freeze frames.

However, Sports Interactive was not limited to the visual part: when creating tactics, you can now put on the field a new role – the extreme central defenders. This role, available only in a three-player defense system, gives the player in position attacking opportunities. More dribbling, more shifting to the flanks and forward, more movement – now the system with three defenders has acquired a more or less playable look. This is nice, because before, with the ostentatious variety of schemes and line-up options, only one more or less constantly worked: the classic 4-2-3-1 (less often 4-3-3) with counterpressing, aggressive selection and high lines of the location of players on the field … Variations are possible, but it was these sketches that served as the foundation for the club’s long-term success – and all other schemes, especially those built on defense, were much more likely to fail.

I really hoped that the developers would improve the balance of the constellations. Still, Nick Madden, who is responsible for the match mode, separately said that counterpressing should now become more difficult, as the players will noticeably get tired by the end of the game. Nevertheless, at a short distance, the same Russian national team (not the strongest team in the world) did not have any particular problems with fatigue – well, or I did not notice them in 30 hours of play. Yes, the players are really exhausted by the final, but the result has already been obtained by that time, all the necessary goals have been scored, and therefore the endurance of the players does not affect the outcome of the match. In this context, three defenders are good, but two working schemes are still small compared to what the game offers in words.

Mbappe won’t come to us? Well, okay, I didn’t really want to

Devil’s assistant

Over the years of the series’ existence, the game interface has acquired many interactive advisors who are always ready to express their valuable opinion about the player, tactics or club development. Football Manager 22 brings them all in one place – the coaching staff meetings returned to the game a few years later, where they discuss all the pressing issues: from firing and hiring personnel to recruiting and developing players. Again, out of context, this sounds great: all employees came in, talked about their turnover, and left. But in fact, about a third of their statements are either meaningless or convey information that you can easily get at any time during the game. When another advisor says that such and such a football player can become the new Lionel Messi, you just want to shrug your shoulders and click the dialog box,

Unfortunately, this kind of noise in the game is more than enough. Searching for talent and drawing up tactics is great, but much more often you have to sort through endless notifications in the mail, communicate with football players, sit at press conferences, chat in the mix zone before and after matches, answer calls from journalists … 50-60% messages are needed only for entourage. The game traditionally promises variety in dialogues with players, functionaries and management, but in reality this means that you will learn all the answer options by heart not in five hours, but in ten. Although Football Manager, remember, fun for hundreds of hours.

Three stars out of five is, of course, great potential for a major English Premier League club.

It is clear that in reality managers are really pestered with the same questions, they really have to work with a mass of information. Judging from this point of view, the series perfectly recreates the feeling of routine, where each match is a bright spot in the middle of faded everyday life. But such an argument in theory can justify any hack: one thing – similar questions, another – literally the same, where only the proper name changes. Attending every conference during the season (there will be more than a hundred in total) can easily go crazy. In addition, if we are already talking about a full-fledged simulation of reality, then we should not forget that coaches also have a personal life, families, vacations, activities outside of work – everything that Football Manager skips through the calendar. In this situation, the specific percentage of the “life” of the coach who goes to communicate with the press, becomes critically high, and therefore players sooner or later begin to send assistants to most of the press events in order to save time. Poor fellows have to take the rap for the coach almost always, which has become a separate subject for jokes.

However, despite all this, Football Manager 22 plays well – just like the previous parts. The wind of change weakly affects the essence of the game: the opportunity to try on the role of a manager, feel the burden of responsibility for the result and change the fate of real celebrities from the world of football. Tearing yourself away from the game, you go to bed and continue to think how Fomin will play in his new role in the national team: will it work out, will the efforts go down the drain? That is why it is a shame that Football Manager 22 is so brazenly exploiting its audience: it feels more like a DLC, but not a stand-alone game.

There are not many bugs in Football Manager 22 (I did not come across critical bugs at all), it is more pleasant and more convenient than its predecessors – but the question of whether the game justifies its price tag is still open. On the one hand, the developers would like to rightly chide for laziness, ignoring the long-standing problems of the series and banal greed. On the other hand, if you forget about these nuances and speak honestly, I want to continue playing, despite the few pros and cons.

However, I would not buy it with my own money. And I would not advise you if you already have a previous release.

  Pleased

  • good old mechanics are not broken;
  • some recommendations from the analytics center;
  • a Bruno Fernandes figurine celebrates a goal realistically;
  • a more viable three-guard scheme.

  Upset

  • there are no innovations that players have been asking for for a long time;
  • the engine is still not impressive;
  • the regen is still terrifying;
  • endless notifications and press conferences;
  • bugged dialogues.

 

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