遊戲品評 - FM 2009 Total Video Games評論

FM 2009 Total Video Games評論

  • Graphics: 75%
  • Sound: 44%
  • Gameplay: 96%
  • Originality: 88%
  • Longevity: 100%
Final Score:   9/10
Sports Interactive has built a better 3D match engine in FM 2009 than can be found in any other game of its type and by quite a margin. True to the rules of success in the game itself, this has been achieved by only introducing the engine when it was ready and making sure it was match fit when they did. Sports Interactive truly are masters of their own craft.

Football Manager 2009 Review 

By Gwynne Dixon on 10/11/2008 

Football Manager enters the third dimension in the series' biggest step forward yet...
Football Manager 2009
  • The best 3D match engine of its kind.
  • Press conferences add depth.
  • Player preferred moves keep you tinkering.
  • The removal of 'cutting-in' runs from formations.
  • No Highlight Speed bar in the match engine.
  • Sound is still a minimalist affair

This year's Football Manager has to be the most eagerly anticipated in the series' illustrious five year history. You'd have to cast your mind back to Champ Man 4, when Sports Interactive was still developing the series, to find an equally ambitious improvement to the worryingly addictive formula. Released back in 2003, Champ Man 4 added a 2D match engine and brought oodles more appeal to your managing experience in the process. In Football Manager 2009, a 3D match engine that builds on the now finely honed 2D engine is primed for PCs everywhere.

Getting It Right

Cynics amongst you might point out that Eidos' current Championship Manager game has had a 3D engine for years, while other football management sims (e.g. Codies' LMA Manager and EA's FIFA Manager) have also displayed the beautiful game in 3D. The difference between these and Football Manager 2009's attempt is that Sports Interactive's engine is actually good. Put it this way: watching LMA or FIFA Manager match engines in the past has always been a bit like setting two AI teams against each other in PES or FIFA. Without a human controlled team involved, the resulting performance just seems a bit lifeless. Last year's Champ Man engine, on the other hand, was pretty entertaining but just didn't have an edge of realism that successfully sucked the player in (examples included way too many goals being scored from corners).

FM 2009 gets it right and the biggest reason for this is because Sports Interactive has dragged the AI behind its 2D engine, which has been tweaked to perfection by now, and dropped it on top of the graphics and animations of the new 3D engine. The spot-on build-up play, perfectly weighted goal scoring opportunities, and well represented formational behaviour is all still there and hasn't been tampered with. In many ways the 3D engine is just a new overlay for the action, a point that's never more demonstrable than your ability to seamlessly switch between both 2D and 3D engines in-game. Handily, it's even possible to watch a mini 2D view of the match in real-time from the tactics menu during a match (unlike last year's game, this allows play to continue while you make substitutions and change tactics).

The engine's mechanics are spot-on then, but what about the animation? Players are detailed enough that you can pick out basic features such as skin tone and hair colour, but not a great deal more than that. You shouldn't expect to notice any deft footwork either, so a Ronaldhino flick-flack or Lionel Messi step-over won't be showcased in the engine. As with the classic 2D view, it's fairly obvious when some intricate dribbling has been performed by a player but you have to use your imagination for the finer details. Your player may slow down as they square-up to a defender before knocking the ball past them and leaving their opponent stranded, but the animation won't display the intimate details of this.

Instead, the ball and player interact more like they would in Subbuteo. You can see player's legs pumping like pistons as they sprint down the wing, but the ball tends to bounce off them more like it would in a game of table football than what we're used to seeing in FIFA or PES. This is not a criticism because it's the same dynamic that was at work in the 2D engine, just extended to a 3D plain. Similarly, on the 2D engine you've always been able to tell whether a shot on goal or long ball has been lobbed, drilled at the target, or had a touch of swerve put on it, and all of these details have been re-created more realistically in 3D. Sports Interactive has simply brought this existing detail into the new engine unfettered and quite literally added another dimension to the gameplay in the process.

In many ways, the fact that the 3D engine works so seamlessly is actually testament to how good the 2D system is. The new engine won't ask too much of your rig either. The system requirements are already very low anyway but, just to check, we ran the game through a rig with the minimum requirement graphics card (an archaic GeForce FX 5900) and it worked a treat. A bit of minor slow down was experienced occasionally and loading up the engine took a bit of time, but other than that it was completely fine.

Silencing The Media

The interface is much the same as last year overall with the exception of one big addition in the form of press conferences. These give you the opportunity to field questions from the press at key points (e.g. after signing for a club or before and after matches etc.). As with any other Football Manager feature, finding the right balance is a fine art and your biggest challenge is to avoid making a decision that will upset team morale. The best way to do this is to answer questions with the aim of giving journalists a non-story. If reports focus on the fact that you're looking for a considered attacking approach in the upcoming game, then you've done a good job. It finally made us realise why football managers come across as such dull people in post-match interviews.

Mistakes are easy to make though and you'll often feel the pressure as a hack hounds you for an answer that you've already given a "no comment" reply to. When we played a season opener, one reporter asked who we thought would win the Premiership. Naturally, we answered that Liverpool (our team) would win, which our players did not react well to. A condescending or sarcastic answer (e.g. Stoke City), on the other hand, resulted in a news story that started "Liverpool's manager appeared in an equivocal mood as he answered questions at a post-match press conference this afternoon..." However, the press can be used to your advantage as well and the conferences are a particularly useful place to credit players for putting in good performances.

The level of depth in these press conferences is certainly impressive and manages to vary things enough around the same canned replies to keep things interesting. Journalists will often pick up on transfer speculation and ask you about it in conferences; they'll also remind you of your previous answers to similar questions in the past (thereby requiring you to think of something different to say). All in all, the press conferences build on an already strong system for media speculation that appeared in previous games and they bring media interaction considerably more into the spotlight for this year's game.

Player preferred moves are another headlining new feature. Contrary to what we'd suspected, tweaking player moves isn't done from the training menu but via Player Interaction options. From here it's possible to ask players to 'stop trying to lob the keeper', 'make runs down the wing', 'make placed shots on goal', or 'drill the ball into the back of the net' (amongst many more choices). While there could've been a couple of useful additions to this list of options (e.g. asking players to cut into the box from the wing), it's a good start nonetheless. Hopefully we'll see this feature grow in the years to come so that it'll allow more control over individual players in future. One thing we are glad about is that Sports Interactive didn't go with a bunch of gimmicky special moves that would make all your players look like the prancing pretty boy that is Christiano Ronaldo.

There are a couple of puzzling omissions from this year's game. Most notably, the Highlight Speed slider bar has now been eliminated from the match engine leaving only the Match Speed slider, meaning that you'll have to watch sped-up highlights if you want to speed the simulated match along. This is a touch annoying but Sports Interactive has coupled the two speeds so that even at a fast match speed the highlights are still easy to follow. An even more curious omission are the restrictions to the 'make runs' arrows in the formation settings. These are now restricted to forward runs only (with no options for long forward runs), while sideways and diagonal cut-in runs have been completely eliminated from the game. It's not a significant problem as it only restricts your options marginally, but we can't help but wonder why Sports Interactive would chose to take it out unless they thought the previous settings were fairly superfluous (in which case, why were they there in the first place?).  

These are minor quibbles though and overall this is the best Football Manager yet (true to the game's billing). Now that Sports Interactive has made Football Manager's match engine a veritable graphical powerhouse for the genre, the series has only got one more point on the gaming star to conquer. It's nailed gameplay, longevity, originality, and graphics already - now all that remains is sound. As things stand in FM 2009, the same football stadium sound effects that have been there for years are the only audio to be found in the game. So, with a 3D match engine in the bag we have to ask: where next for the series? Motty and Lawro on the commentary?