The new chapter uses a completely revised graphics engine and the database of even the lesser known championships is frightening: it does not revolutionize the series but leaves its mark. And then there is the last day of the market …
With the Football Manager series, and with all the annual series, gamers are used to the idea of playing the same game but still having something more than the year before: versions that are not designed to revolutionize the structure of a product, and with it most of the problems reported with a cadence of more or less than twelve months, but to smooth it out and introduce little big news in selected aspects. It is the case of Football Manager 2022, a new chapter in Sports Interactive’s long-running management series out on November 9 on PC and Xbox, which doesn’t come as a total rewrite of the game. Yet, if we have to talk about incremental upgrades, it is probably the best of recent times and the one that risks more than any other to get in tune with fans.
Animation update –
One of the great new features of Football Manager 2022 is a new engine for field animations. This introduction has resulted in completely new sequences during the game but above all in many nuances for the movements of the players: the players now no longer behave as if they had just come out of Subbuteo, that is, proceeding for straight lines, but touch the ball credibly and in multiple directions, moving the ball with the heel or with the sole.
As a rule, the “coaches” on Football Manager play at very high speeds (three quarters of the speed bar, usually: the right balance between the readability of the action and the needs related to the times of each), so many they won’t see it as a life-changing tweak. However, even at those speeds, the difference is noticeable and we end up being surprised by movements whose outcome was taken for granted until a year ago and which instead on FM2022 lead to a completely different type of outcome. Rigidities remain, and presumably we cannot ask too much if we think that it is still a management simulation (not a FIFA 22), but the results are in any case positive and open to the addition of further nuances in the next editions. .
The last day of the market –
The transfer market is a fundamental ingredient of the Football Manager experience and in the 2022 edition a few more possibilities are given to ensure that you can add some elements to your squad without having the liquidity of the sheikhs. Sports Interactive has not opted for a solution that leads, as in a couple of versions of FIFA, to buying players with redemption loans that sounded more like “promissory notes”. However, participating this year on the last day of the market, a new interface which takes the place of the game menu as you have come to know it, is equivalent to putting your ear to the ground and hearing all the voices of the sector to probe its availability. Players can participate with the idea of the role or roles they will want to upgrade in the squad, and the agents will step forward to show you an interest in the transfer not necessarily related to the status of that athlete in their squad (whether on the market or not) .
Being the last day of the market, and also wanting to shake up their lineups, the clubs that will receive offers will be much more flexible than usual and will be more open to formulas such as loans or deferred payments. This gives even a Barcelona the chance to participate in the controlled chaos of the very last hours of the market. In the case of the aforementioned Barcelona, Sports Interactive’s attention to the real economy is denoted as it was for the after-effects of Brexit recently: Covid has hit hard all the companies and therefore the movements are not very many, but with the Catalans there is a particular attention to underline the payments of debts and not to make them just a background on which the user’s events happen. Messages appear on the screen about the payments made by the management for the necessary settlements, the alarming warnings on financial fair play sound more like threats than warnings and important figures are withheld after each sale, limiting the adjustments in this way to the starting budget (equal, sadly, at 0 euros).
Football Manager 2022 Data Center –
The data center is every player’s dream by Football Manager. At the presentation, the first thought was that such a complex database, with figures and statistics marked down to the millimeter for all the players in the database and their respective teams, was too complicated to consult and follow. What good will it ever be to know in detail which strikers have made the most passes to their teammates or which midfielders have performed the most slips in a championship (as well as in a single match)? A similar operation, within a video game, may seem excessive and distracting for users.
And instead, especially playing in a league that is little known and just acquired a minimum component of familiarity, these data – thanks to clear and legible graphs – are useful: they make us understand both how their players and their methods are doing compared to competitors, and what other players are around for the championship that could suit the squad at your disposal, beyond the numerical evaluations. In this way, it is possible to create oneself a personal database within the official database, inserting in the selected list those players who will be followed in the long run and keeping an eye on them for a future purchase opportunity. And this is just one of the uses of the database, because other coaches will instead want to evaluate the impact of their choices on the squad you have and change some of them to see improvements.
Some imperfections remain –
Since there was talk of an incremental upgrade situation and not a structural revolution, Football Manager 2022 is in many respects adherent to last year’s. Despite having obtained a noticeable acceleration of the weekly dynamics (also) due to the succession of a match every three days, the superfluous situations remain dominant. The press conferences, as well as the interviews and dialogues with their players, undergo small changes every year and once again the communication, especially internal, has been revised. Each time, in the short and medium term, these steps are however reduced to a series of clicks that you will perform mechanically (“so nothing changes”, and so it is) or to the renunciation of meetings or, with even greater frequency, to the delegation to the poor deputy who has to do all the paperwork.
The absence of certain dynamics that are part of the media dimension of sport would sound strange, so the intentions of Sports Interactive are more than understandable on this aspect; however, it is inevitable to make similar considerations every time and it will be interesting to see if one day it can be found a credible solution and realistic to this problem. On the aspect of injuries, a plague of roughly all the episodes, it still happens to run into several but it is nice to note that, at least in the experience that led to this review, their severity has dropped palpably: they are now more frequent injuries of one or two days or less than a week, which may cause the match plan to be skipped at the last minute, but at least a game and not dozens as soon as you start to fuel.
What is Football Manager 2022 like? –
Released on November 9 for PC and Xbox, Football Manager 2022 remains an update and not a distortion of the frame set up last year: the impression is that this is perhaps the less flashy upgrade but with the most enduring features, which players will find with greater pleasure and with greater usefulness, in recent times. The series would need some drastic design choices to finally take flight, yet, in the landscape of sports video games and even sports in general, come to think of it, it remains a happy island.
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Football Manager 2022, the review: animations and big data, is the best in recent years