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Thursday, November 19, 2009
Football Manager 2010

Jon Carter

The beauty of this game comes, not from the stunning visuals, as you would find in FIFA or PES, but in the details and statistics found in the places that few people want to delve. Tactics, ratings, training and boardroom politics take centre stage in the latest incarnation of one of the world's best football management games. Chances are, if you are reading this review then you have probably already played, or are addicted to, one if its predecessors, so I'll skip right ahead to what it different this time around. First off, it should be said that there are not a huge number of changes. The largest being in the 3D match engine that we were first introduced to in 2009. Now we have an improved AI, over 100 new animations for the pitch view, new stadiums, crowds, realistic pitch degradation and better lighting, creating an even more realistic match experience. Unfortunately, it is still a little 'buggy' and the lag that sometimes occurs can remind you of an old online version; although you are still given the option of using the traditional 2D version, which has had a brief makeover, meaning it runs slightly smoother. The other major change comes from a ''touchline command system'' that means you can change the team tactics, player responsibilities or work ethic while the game is occurring. The gaming equivalent of screaming yourself hoarse from the touchline, it's a realistic addition that can pay dividends if used correctly - although be prepared for it all to go horribly wrong as well. Players are given pre-defined roles now, with the feedback system getting an upgrade so you are fully aware of what you need to change; while a new Match Analysis tool gives you the power to see where shots, passes, crosses, headers, tackles, fouls and interceptions have been made. A brand new User Interface has also been rolled out, taking a step away from the standard navigation sidebar that we have seen in FM games for years, and trying a new tab system that is brought into most of menus. Ultimately, it feels less cluttered and has a more logical setup, but isn't a massive change so FM fanatics won't get lost. In fact, that's pretty much what the whole game feels like. It's not so much a new version, but a decent update that has polished an already impressive engine. Some nice tweaks have made the game more accessible and it feels a little fresher, but there is nothing ground breaking. Not that there really needs to be. • Win three copies of FM 2010 in our competition...

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