Football Manager 2022 Review: Still the best football management simulation

Football Manager (FM) is the long-running football management franchise that lets you play out your dreams of managing a football club. And FM 2022 is the 18th and latest iteration.

Meddling with tactics is just one aspect of being a football manager. (Photo: Sports Interactive)

FM is like the typical annual iPhone updates. With each iteration, there are always incremental improvements. For this iteration, the main new features are the new match engine, revamped transfer deadline day, streamlined staff meetings and probably most important of all, the Data Hub.

SPECS
PRICE: From S$59 (PC, version reviewed; Mac; Xbox One; Xbox Series X|S)
GENRE: Football management simulation

I have been playing FM since the times when it was still Championship Manager (yes, I am old). So, I am pretty well acquainted with the interface and the sheer amount of data that is needed to go through in order to play this game.

If you are an absolute newbie, you will probably be overwhelmed of the amount of micro-management (and mouse clicks). You need to be in charge of tactics, training, transfer, scouting, finances while keeping track of players’ performance and of course, getting results.

FOR
+ Still the deepest football management game
+ Data Hub offers great insight
+ Improved match engine
+ More variety in responses for press conferences and team-talks
+ Super addictive gameplay

AGAINST
– Steep learning curve for newbies
– Data overload
– Limited licensed logos and kits

Thankfully, if needed, the game can take you through a step-by-step walkthrough, called induction, to all the aspects of football management.

But the Data Hub moves things up a further notch. When you play enough games, the Data Hub will be there to help you whether you are a FM newbie or veteran. It is a new section that is the go-to destination for everything related to data and performance analysis.

Here, you can look into team performance metrics to analyse what is going right in matches and where there is room for improvement. You can also view analysis on a particular player of your team, thereby allowing you to identify his strengths and weaknesses. And thus, you can work on them in training.

Data Hub is a one-stop section for all your data and performance analysis needs. (Photo: Sports Interactive)

There are also new data visualisations such as momentum graphs and zone maps as well as re-worked passing maps. These tools make it easier for you to see how your players’ decision-making is leading to goals.

In fact, football clubs are using the same metrics and reporting methods to analyse the players’ performance. As such, you might be practically doing the same thing as what Jurgen Klopp or Pep Guardiola are doing.

New match engine allows for more natural player movements. (Photo: Sports Interactive)

While the graphics are not too different from FM 2020, the new match engine allows for players to move more naturally with passes and crosses look more realistic. There are also greater variations in terms of passes, dribbles and build-up play. At times, I am wowed by the intricate short passes that my team was able to produce before their build-up play to scoring a goal.

On the downside, there are still limited kits and logos in this game. Especially if you compare it to the likes of FIFA 22, where you can find almost all the kits and logos of the teams.

The revamped transfer deadline day better replicates its drama and excitement. You will be better informed of the latest done deals, rumours and offers from agents in a new Deadline Day hub. Thankfully, it is not every day you do this.

The Deadline Day hub offers a more streamlined approach to the chaotic date in football. (Photo: Sports Interactive)

On the other hand, you will have weekly meetings with your staff that allows you to better organise your pre-match preparation, player development goals and team structure.

During these meetings, your staff will recommend new training regime for certain players, new signings, add more coaching staff and other recommendations. And it is up to you to decide if you want to follow their recommendations. Some are insightful, but at times, I find it frustrating when they wanted more coaching staff when the board already said we have enough.

Having regular meeting with your staff keeps you up to date with the team’s development. (Photo: Sports Interactive)

More importantly, I like that there are more variety to press conferences and team-talks with more contextual responses available, compared to previous iterations. There are noptions for gestures like throw bottle or place hands in pockets during team-talks to bring your point across. And when you are talking to individual players, you can pat them on their backs before praising them to up their morale.

You need to be always in the lookout for great talents, such as Jude Bellingham. (Photo: Sports Interactive)

Press conferences come thick and fast, before and after matches. And you find yourself answering questions more than participating in training sessions. However, this is just part and parcel for being a football manager. And this game truly replicates that experience on to your computer screen to the fullest.

I find myself looking at every player’s ratings to ensure the training is doing its work. I try to change each positional tactics to fully suit each player’s capabilities, scout for new players and staff to improve the team and examine the next opposition’s weakness to exploit. Before I know it, it is 4am in the morning. If ever I am to quarantine because of Covid-19 (touch wood…), this game is all I need.

VERDICT
Despite incremental upgrades, FM 2022 retains the addictive gameplay for which the franchise is famed. If you are a football fan, this is one game you should definitely buy.

RATING
9/10

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